Ancestral connection work has been one of the foundational tools I have used to live a more grounded life in these difficult times. It has been an anchor for me in my journey to emotional wellness and knowing my truest self.
In This Episode:
I talk with Jenn Campus, best-selling author and teacher of Old Ways for Modern Days. We discuss all the various avenues one can take to explore ancestral practices: from food, to land, to craft, and more.
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Episode 29: Unraveling Ancestral Reconnection with Jenn Campus
people, ancestors, stories, feel, practices, land, important, Jenn, ancestral, place, connecting, unraveling, engage, grew, family, live, part, world, sardinia, find
Jenn Campus, Kelsey Mech
Kelsey Mech 00:05
Welcome to the unraveled life Podcast. I’m Kelsey Mech, a registered clinical counselor and creative coach. On this show, we’re committed to unraveling the stories, expectations and beliefs of our capitalist and patriarchal society, and reconnecting to who we were before the world told us who we should be. I’m so excited you’re here. Let’s unravel this together.
Hello, and welcome back to the unraveled life. I’m always so excited to be here recording and sharing this with you, and I am thrilled about the guest that we have today. So I’m going to jump right into introducing our guest and then backtrack a little bit to give you a couple other pieces of information before we dive into the interview.
Our guest today is Jenn Campus. Jenn is a best selling author and teacher of old ways for modern days. She has a degree in anthropology and indigenous and Native American studies from Hampshire College, and she studied Culinary Arts at Sterling College. Jenn and her husband renovated and ran a homestead in Vermont for almost 10 years. And she has been working with her herbs and creating her own remedies since the early 90s. And now she is living in Sardinia and doing a lot of incredible work in creating amazing offerings around connecting to your ancestral lineage. She does that through her Patreon and her podcast, and her Instagram and little booklets she makes for different months with all of the different seasonal celebrations. So she’s a great resource for all of this kind of stuff.
Now, I want to explain why I’ve decided to invite Jenn on as we explore all of these concepts of unraveling for me, connecting to my ancestors, and my traditional lineage and traditional practices, has been probably the most foundational cornerstone of my work of unraveling capitalism, patriarchy ableism all of these things, because it’s one thing to shift our mindset, how we prioritize how we view success, how we live our lives, all of these things. But actually having a more concrete alternative to attach, or anchor that new mindset to, has been really helpful for me. And one of the ways I’ve created that for myself is by connecting to ancestral practices, to practices that were more nature based, more land based, perceived the world as animate. And so many of these things that Jenn and I will talk about today. So even though for some of you ancestral work, although I’ve talked about it before, might seem like a tangential to this broader conversation we’re having around unraveling capitalism and all of these systems, actually, I see it as fundamental. And that ancestor work can look different. It can be very spiritual in terms of connecting with your ancestors, it can be tangible connection to ancestral practices through food or craft, it can actually just be connecting to the land you live on now, even if it isn’t your ancestral land, and just seeing land as ancestor in general, or cultivating a sense of belonging to place which we talked about in this interview, as well. So all of those can be really practical ways of actually anchoring this new mindset, separate from capitalism, hustle, culture, productivity, colonization, all of these harmful systems that we reside within. So it’s been so helpful for me for those reasons. It’s been so helpful for my mental health and my emotional well being. It’s given me a sense of purpose, a sense of place, a sense of belonging, that just makes me feel so much more well. And so I’m actually incorporating conversations around ancestral lineage work a lot more into the work that I do.
And one more thing I want to mention before we dive into the conversation with Jenn, is that Jenn is actually going to be joining us on the equinox on March 21, inside Wellspring. So, if you’re interested in this conversation, and you want to have a deeper conscience to do a workshop with Jenn, we would love to have you inside Wellspring. You can join just to come to her workshop, if you want. You can join for a month, you can stay for a year, whatever feels good to you. The membership, I’m changing the model. So it’s now open anytime and it’s on a sliding scale with three payment options. So you can either pay the regular fee of $65 Canadian per month. Or if you need a subsidized rate, you can pay $50 Canadian a month. Or if you have a little bit extra to share and want to step into a role of community care, you can pay $80 Canadian a month. And that gives you access to a workshop from an amazing guest teacher every month, to our sharing circle calls on the new moon, to a workshop that I run every month on something related to the themes we’re exploring, to our book club that we’re starting in April, to creativity circles where we hop on a call together and write or create and in space with one another, as well as to a beautiful community weekly invitations and resources that I send out with prompts to deepen into the themes we’re exploring, a beautiful seasonal guide book, lunar calendars to walk you through that lunar cycle and apply that lens to what we’re doing. It’s like there’s so much and I’m really, really excited about the direction Wellspring is going, it feels so aligned to the work that I’m doing. It’s just like such a beautiful community. So if you’re loving this conversation with Jenn, she’s joining us for a workshop on the 21st. I would love to have you for that; you can like join the workshop. And then decide if Wellspring is a community you want to stay in or not beyond that.0
I also will be running a workshop on March 30, about designing and creating your own personalized Wheel of the Year, weaving in practices from your own ancestral lineage. And so that sort of our focus for the month of March is leaning into ancestral lineage work. Our whole focus for the season of spring is all about learning to trust yourself. And so in March, we’re doing ancestor work. In April, we’re going to be doing some work with cultivating our intuition. We have a guest teacher on the Tarot. And then in whatever the next month is May, we’re going to be looking at radical permission giving and be doing some some work in that realm: how we can trust our needs and meet them. So it’s going to be a really juicy few months. I’m really, really, really excited for the space, for what we have going. I’m going to keep sharing about it. Because this is sort of becoming like the home online for all of the people who follow me who want to do work a little bit more closely, but still very, very excessively. So I think I’m going to be sharing less in spaces like Instagram and more inside this community. And I would love for you to join us. And it’s like a really wonderful way to support the podcast too. Because if you love the podcast, I don’t you know, have a Patreon or a way for you to directly support the podcast. But joining Wellspring supports me financially and allows me to continue creating this content and doing this work that’s accessible to everyone. So if that sounds like super rad, and which I think it is, it’s like the best place to be on the internet, I think you should come hang out with us. It’s Kelsey Mech dot com, slash Wellspring. You can sign up anytime, including right this second. And I would love to have you.
What else do I need to say? I don’t think anything. So without further ado, now, like several minutes after I introduced her here is my interview with Jenn Campus. Just kidding. Let’s try that. Again. I actually did have one more thing to say. And that is that when I did this interview with Jenn, she is in Sardinia and the Internet there was a little bit slow. And so we had a little bit of a lag. It’s not a huge issue for the most part. But you might notice a couple of places where we just sound super awkward or accidentally talk over each other. I think we got into the rhythm partway through the interview of just like letting there be a pause. But have you noticed any weirdness or awkwardness or quiet moments? That’s what’s going on? It’s not actually that we’re both just incredibly socially awkward. It was Zoom problems. Okay, now for real this time, here’s Jenn.
Can you begin by sharing just a little bit about you and who you are and the work that you do in the world?
Jennn Campus 09:40
Sure. Um, so first and foremost, I guess right now I’m just feeling like a mom. I have two young children at home. And they’ve been home a lot over the last two years because of the pandemic stuff. So I’ve been really spending a lot more time with them which is great and And I’m looking for ways to really share with them the work that I’m doing, because I’m passionate about making ancestral practices available and relevant to them as a way to preserve not only their own creativity and innate wisdom that they’re born with, that actually we’re all born with. But, you know, I think so many of us are working hard to reclaim that after years and decades of programming. And I just feel like it’s so important to share that with my kids. So I’m a mom, who is really trying her best to keep everything that I’ve learned over the years going on. Because I think that those who feel called to this process have a duty to pass it on to their loved ones in whatever way that they can. I also come from an academic background, I’m an anthropologist, but I’m also a pagan practitioner of reclaiming these ancestral traditions, and realize that we can’t know everything about our past. So I really am interested in the nuance and the liminal spaces in between what traditional research can find and also personal experience and bridging a gap between those things, making these practices relevant today.
Kelsey Mech 11:27
I love that I really appreciate you saying that we can’t know everything about our past, and that there is going to be the bridging of that gap that’s inherent to this work. I think so often I find myself like looking for all the answers in in books or in resources and and sometimes coming up short and recognizing that there’s, there’s a role to play for like creating our own sort of Gnosis. And knowing around that as well.
Jennn Campus 11:55
I just wanted to add one little part, which was to say that I think that, you know, I think often we don’t remember that we ourselves are vessels of the of our own ancestors, and therefore, you know, are able to access knowledge through ourselves, and not just through books and research.
Kelsey Mech 12:17
Mm hmm. Yeah, that’s so important to remember. So to dial this back, actually a moment because the art this podcast sort of jumps around and talks about a bunch of different things. And obviously, today with you, Jenn, we’re going to be exploring ancestral practices and the role that they play in our modern lives and how we can kind of bridge the gap that you’ve talked about. I’m curious if you could just for those who are maybe a little bit newer to this work, share a bit about why you think it’s so important or supportive for folks to be reconnecting with ancestral practices.
Jennn Campus 13:00
Because I think it lends a lot of information that’s been lost, not lost, but just not appreciated. Maybe for a long time, it helps us remember who we are, it helps us to remember our role here on this planet in this time and place, which I think a lot of people are really just stuck in the modern paradigm of, you know, working nine to five jobs and being stuck maybe in situations that don’t necessarily feel right. And when we engage with ancestral practices, and we think about the way our ancestors lived, it opens up a door to so many other possibilities for how we can live and how we can engage not only with each other, but with the earth and even with ourselves. So I feel like it’s just it’s a way for us to to have more options of how we want to walk in this world.
Kelsey Mech 14:05
Hmm, yeah, that resonates with me so deeply. And I think in my own journey of trying to unravel some of these paradigms of capitalism, and patriarchy, and ableism, and all these things you’re sort of alluding to, it’s been such an important piece to, as you said, like, open that door to a different possibility. And I think it’s incredibly important when we’re, as a tool, almost, when we’re exploring work around, you know, mental health and emotional wellness, that this can actually be a really beautiful way to support ourselves.
Jennn Campus 14:40
Definitely, I definitely think so. Because, you know, ancestral practices, I see them sort of as a roadmap back to ourselves as a way for us to help understand our own specific gifts and really as a way to connect more with our intuition. I think when we connect to our intuition, and we can start trusting our instincts, it’s really a key to mental health and emotional wellness. I mean, at least it has been for me, because it helps, it has helped me to trust myself. And so many mental health issues I think come from not really either not knowing ourselves fully, because we’ve been sort of cut off from it. And we haven’t been encouraged to develop our gifts, or because we’re afraid to allow the full blossoming of our gifts and ourselves.
Kelsey Mech 15:38
So for for folks who are like interested in this, but maybe newer to this work, I’m curious if you can share a bit about your own journey into connecting so deeply with your own ancestral practices as just an example of one pathway into this work that someone might maybe resonate with a little bit themselves?
Jennn Campus 15:59
Yeah, sure. I think my, my, I’ve really been interested in this my whole life, because I am adopted. So I grew up in a wonderful family full of really rich traditions, I grew up in an Italian American family, which was wonderful. And I had a great childhood. But um, you know, I didn’t know my own people that I came from. And if anybody listening to this is adopted, I mean, I think it’s a common feeling that we all share, which is that there’s just this part of us that we don’t know, like, there’s this missing piece, it’s not really missing, but it’s just a piece we don’t understand, it’s a piece of us that hasn’t had the light on it, so to speak. So, for me, it was really a way for me to rediscover parts of myself that I was not privy to, for most of my life. And it started with me, learning more about my ancestry through a lot of different ways through DNA testing for the first thing, because that became available, you know, in the mid to middle 2000s. And so I was very excited about that, because finally, it was a way for me to understand more about myself. And with that, then I began to really hone in and dive into the histories of those specific groups of people that I was related to, and came from. And eventually, it led me to finding my birth family, actually, and getting to meet them and form relationships with them. But it just came from this longing that I had really all my life to, to know myself. And I felt like, because of being adopted in that situation, I was sort of born into a life where very deliberately, a lot of who I was, was, was cut off from me. And so it was a way for me to come home to myself, and to understand myself better. So that’s really what the motivation was, for me to start understanding where I came from, who my people are, and then it’s just going down the rabbit hole after that.
Kelsey Mech 18:28
Yeah, and it’s a big rabbit hole that whole idea of coming home to ourselves, I think, is just such a beautiful framing of this. And it’s it’s language I’ve used as well in my own work around this and other pieces of the work that I do in the world. And I really appreciate actually also what you said at the beginning about some of your work in this been supporting parents or families to find ways to teach their kids this, this process and this work because I just remember myself as a as a kid growing up in what is now called Canada, and feeling very disconnected from any source of culture or my own traditions, because my parents and family didn’t really practice any of that in the home and just feeling this complete emptiness around that and now as an adult really working to figure out figure out who I am and what my roots are and what is what is mine and but I love that you’re working with parents and families to help them engage in that process for kids because I think that is so important and something we’ve lost a lot of connection to in this culture.
Jennn Campus 19:42
Yeah, I agree. I mean, I grew up feeling a lot the same way I grew up in, you know, what is now the United States and it I just never felt a connection to that place and I just felt kind of lost and wanting to connect with with, you know, the land and the earth and the different plants and animals that were around me, but just not sure how exactly to do that, and I thought to myself, you know, what if what if I could change that for my own children, you know, what if I could make them, you know, just structure our lives and the way that we live in such a way that it’s that this innate Ness that they have about knowing that we are a part of the earth and that we are, we do belong and we are connected, was never a question in their mind that they just knew it and felt it with all of their being. And it’s one of the reasons why our family moved to Sardinia, because that’s where my husband’s family is from. And we thought that that was one step in the right direction of just physically being in a place where they have roots. And I know that that is not possible for a lot of people. And so I also have been trying to make this work relevant, and to help people who can’t go back to the place where their people are from, and they are going to have to figure out where they are. And there’s a lot of beauty that can unfold from that, too. So I’ve just tried to hit it from as many angles as possible, in a way to to serve, you know, as many people as I can with, with what has been coming up for me, as I have delved deeper and deeper into into this work.
Kelsey Mech 21:38
So cool, I’d love to talk about that piece a little bit more the this the sense of belonging to place, for those of us who are on land, that is not the land that our ancestors have inhabited. And I’m curious, you know, how you how folks can create that sense of connection to place, even if they’re settlers, as my as I am, and without appropriating the ancestral traditional knowledge of the folks whose land they’re on now? Like, how do we find that balance, that feeling rooted in place when we’re so disconnected in so many ways?
Jennn Campus 22:18
I mean, I think it’s first just really important to acknowledge that, you know, we are on we are living on somebody else’s ancestral land. And the fact that we are there now is not necessarily from our own choosing, the way it happened, or how our people ended up there, or the interactions that took place between them and the original inhabitants of that land, think it’s really important just to acknowledge that it’s the first step to kind of sit with that and say, Okay, I need to, I need to think about this, and I need to understand this. And then I think, you know, the next step is to learn maybe some of the stories like this is where local libraries and local historical societies can be really good is learning some of the stories of that particular piece of land. And you know, as much that you can learn from the indigenous cultures is the best. And it’s good to understand, you know, sort of what is the history of this place, because that energy stays in the land, it stays there. And if we want to have a relationship with the land, and we want to get to know it, we have to acknowledge those energies, and really sit with them and try to find a way to work together to say, well, you know, this is where I am now. And this is where I’m going to make my life. And I really want to work with you, whether it’s land spirits, or ancestral spirits, or it’s a place to say, how do we do this? You know, how can I make a positive contribution? How can I be a part of this place? And answers do come it’s not, it’s not something that seems to be hard to get, because, you know, we’re all all our energy is all around a place where we live, we leave our imprint everywhere and the imprint of the land, is there the imprint of the people who lived there before we did and it’s all kind of like swirling together. And it’s like in any group that you would meet even today, whether it’s at work or with you know, extracurricular activities, or hobbies, or whatever you have to learn to, to coexist in that group in a way that is peaceful and towards a goal that is similar, which is like, I just want to live a peaceful life here and contribute as best as I can. And I think when you do that sincerely, it opens up the door to a communication with, you know, those other beings that we share our space with, that we don’t always see or acknowledge, but are there nonetheless. And that is really where to start. That’s really where to start. And, and then, of course, you know, getting to know if you can, your own people and where they came from and some of their traditions. And this is how you can really find your base, you know, find your foundation, so that you’re not appropriating, and you’re not trying to take that which is not yours, but coming to a new place with a sense of how do I really love this place? I think, you know, for me, being an immigrant in a different country, I’ve been able to have that perspective, because I haven’t come here and want to change it to be more like what I was used to growing up, or how I used to live when I lived somewhere else, but it’s like, how can I really love you? How can I? How can I live here peacefully? How can I raise my family in a good way and, and respect and honor the traditions that are here and the people that are here, but be also be a part of it moving forward?
Kelsey Mech 26:33
How can I really love you, that’s a beautiful question in in considering relationship to land. I love that thank you for that offering. You also brought up something about appropriation that I want to circle back to, which is I’ve been kind of grappling with this a little bit myself, in my own journey right now of connecting to my ancestral lineage and practices, I’m primarily polish. And so I’ve really been living leaning, pardon me into exploring Slavic practices and polish practices where I can find them. And yet, because I didn’t grow up with any of those of my family, and the Polish side of my family is actually quite disconnected from that. And I really have very little information about what would have resonated or what would have been practiced in my family, I don’t even know the region of Poland, my family is from and I know there’s, you know, so many nuances based on region. So I’m wondering, I’m kind of grappling with the sense of like, is it? Is there a point where it’s possible for me to appropriate my own culture, because I’m coming at it as kind of an outsider, even though it’s in my DNA, and I love if you can share a little bit about your thoughts on on that?
Jennn Campus 27:49
Yeah, um, I don’t, I personally don’t believe and I mean, I am not, I’m not the be all end all. This is just my own personal opinion from, you know, My academic background as an anthropologist and looking at cultural appropriation, and all of those things, I don’t think you can culturally appropriate your own culture. But I do think that it’s important to have a respect for the fact that you don’t know everything. And Google Translate is your friend. So my, the way I always look at these things is to go directly to the source. So you know, if you’re, if you want to learn more about the practices of you know, your people in Poland, and what they’re up to going to people who are Polish, and writing in Polish about their traditions, I think is a really great place to start. That sort of what I’m doing right now is I’m trying to learn more about my adopted homeland here in Sardinia is that, you know, I’m going to Sardinian sources using Google Translate. I’m getting the help of my husband to be like, Okay, I don’t understand this part. Because I really want to hear it from their own voices, and not kind of come up with what I think it is. But I think sometimes it’ll surprise you like, I kind of felt a lot like that, too. The first time I went to visit Scotland, I have a lot of Scottish heritage, genetically. And so I found out that for example, my clan used to have ownership of a castle. At that still open to the public to go and visit so I went to visit it. And, you know, during the tour at the end of the tour, I think I you know, they asked, you know, like, what made you come to visit this place? And I said, well, because you know, I’m from this specific clan, and I know that there’s some ancestral ties here to this place. And I just want wanted to learn more. And she was like, Oh, so you’re part of the family. And she took me back to like, the special room. And she gave me like a paper with the whole family tree and all the different things. And I thought, wow, I thought I was such an outsider and thought that people, you know, might think I was weird for coming here and trying to learn about my ancestry. And, and instead, they were, like, so welcoming. And, you know, she kind of made a comment of like, yeah, you’re, you’re part of the family. And like, you know, no matter how many degrees or how many years, you’ve been gone from this land, you’re still Scottish, you know, so I thought, wow. So sometimes, you know, it’s, it’s surprising. I mean, I’ve heard other people have different experiences when they go back to ancestral homelands and people like, No, you’re American, or whatever. But I think unless you sort of have grown up as a settler on someone else’s land, like, you know, you in Canada, me in the US, other people in Australia, etc. It’s hard for them to put themselves in our place to say to understand that, yes, although maybe a couple of generations of our family have lived in these other places, like more than that much more than that had lived in this place. And so I think that there are still ties there. So that’s my thought on that.
Kelsey Mech 31:32
What a magical story about the Castle in Scotland? I love that. Thank you for sharing that little anecdote. Yeah, it’s interesting, because so often, it isn’t that far back. I mean, my own might like my dad came over from Germany when he was a teenager. And yet, I feel so disconnected from that, but like, he grew up with it very recently. And so yeah, I think it’s important to remember that, like, we’re not talking about being necessarily for many of us, anyway, removed or disconnected from the land of our ancestors. for that long. It is like quite recent history, which I hadn’t really thought about before. So thank you. Mm
Jennn Campus 32:12
hmm. Yeah. Forget about that a lot.
Kelsey Mech 32:25
Sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off. If you were gonna say something else. Go for it. We can all edit some of this out.
Jennn Campus 32:31
No, no, no, I’m good. No, I’m good. I’m good.
Kelsey Mech 32:38
So I know, you’ve mentioned that one of the things you most love is talking about the power and wisdom in stories. Can you speak a little bit to how stories can how we can use stories to connect with these practices or even to unravel some of this capitalist nine to five patriarchal paradigm that were really stuck in, in our society now?
Jennn Campus 33:02
Yes, I think that stories and myths are really one of the most important tools to getting back to our roots. Because this was the way that our ancestors were able to communicate the important things about their lives, it was their way to communicate to others around the fire at night, or to their children about how to live with the land, where they were, how to live with the creatures that they inhabited that place with, how to live with the ancestors, and the gods, and all of these things. And so really looking back to these stories, and thinking of them more and more as research, I think turns it on its head, and we can see glimpses into the past that are not readily available in traditional research. Because traditional research tends to be pretty dry, it tends to be done, you know, many, many years, sometimes centuries after the actual fact of the events. But stories in many cases had been passed down orally. And yes, maybe they would change over time somewhat. But, you know, the heart of them was still there. And so I think that it gives us a glimpse into really the way the mindset and the worldview of our ancestors and how they interacted and how they engaged with life in pretty much every way you can imagine. So for me, I think it’s also really important to remember like the stories from your childhood, the ones that you heard growing up that like, were your favorites, the ones that really tugged at your heart or your soul and maybe influence the person that you are today in some way, maybe it called you to some sort of action, or it just made you feel like you could do something or that you needed to do something. And I think when we really listen to those stories as teachers, and we go back to the ones that meant so much to us as children, and we look at them with adult eyes, and with the lens, of ancestral practices and ancestral remembering, we they can really be our teachers. And this is something that I delved into a lot and will delve into, again with another group, hopefully, the spring of the course that I taught this past fall old ways for modern families. And part of it was really looking at stories, and especially the stories that are important to us individually, for how they can teach us more about ourselves. And our work really, that we are here to do in this time place. And also as a lens and a roadmap back to the way that our ancestors saw the world. So I think stories are just almost the best tool that we have for this work as a whole, and are not fanciful in any way, but also, again, opens up a door so that we can see that there are options, that there are other ways to live, that there are people who also like us maybe felt uncomfortable about the way and the world and the society in which they were living. And they did something about it. And depending on the story, there was so many different ways that they handled those situations. And I think the ones that speak the most to us, maybe can tell us or teach us how we can move forward, or maybe past some of the things in our own lives that don’t sit well with us and that don’t feel aligned. And they give us they give us a step forward. And they give us inspiration to take a leap of faith maybe, and do what we need to do to be more aligned with ourselves and with our gifts and with what we’re supposed to be doing here.
Kelsey Mech 37:43
Can I ask if there’s been a particular story or one that comes to mind in this moment that really stands out to you as being impactful in your own journey? Or your own way of seeing the worlds?
Jennn Campus 37:58
Um, oh my gosh, there’s so many, but I guess if I was going to come up with one in this moment, I think, you know, with us talking about capitalism and the patriarchy and all of that stuff, maybe the one that comes to mind right now is Robin Hood. Robin Hood has been a story for me, that has captivated me since I was very, very young. And just the idea that common people, I guess, on the fringe, literally living in the forest, and you know, kind of doing some guerrilla goodwill really just speaks to the rebellious part of my soul. And, and, you know, in researching that and looking to Robin Hood as a teacher, you know, I could see a lot of parallels because like, for me, I have a lot of in my ancestry have a lot of history of rebels, you know, people who were an act of rebellion against things and decided to find another way. And interestingly enough, my my mother, my birth mother’s maiden name is Sherwin. And so the name is most prevalently found in the in Nottinghamshire and England, which is where Sherwood Forest is. So, these things are not random. You know, these things are not random. And if we open our hearts and we open our minds to the stories that mean something to us, you know, I would not be surprised if you found those sorts of treasures for yourself and your own meaning.
Kelsey Mech 39:45
I just got shivers. That’s cool. I really appreciate ya, you’re talking about story and land as teachers and this sort of the word that comes to mind for me is this sense of like, reverence for these things. And I’m wondering in addition to to land and story, what are the other ways folks can tangibly or tangibly I guess, engage with ancestral practice? What are the other avenues and the first thing that I always talk about is food. Food is the easiest way in because food touches land, food touches people, food touches, culture, food, touches, language, food touches, everything, everything that we would hope to learn from ancestral practices, food is there. And so for me,
Jennn Campus 40:37
I mean, I love food. I’ve been a foodie, you know, my career before this was as a food writer, and recipe developer. So like food is majorly important part of my life. But it really was a it is also a teacher for me as well, when it comes to the ancestral practices, because we can learn so much about the geography of where people came from when we cook their traditional foods, you know, because it tells us well, what ingredients can grow in that place. And what kind of conditions are needed to grow those particular foods. So it tells you about, you know, the type of geography, it tells you about the weather, it might give you some glimpses to the seasons and seasonal changes. It might even tell you how people cook, did they cook on a fire? Did they cook in an oven, did they cook on the ground, you know, there are so many ways that food can really get us going super deep with ancestral work. And the best part is that it’s something that we all already engage with, hopefully, on a daily basis, if we’re fortunate. And in that way, it’s already so second nature, but it’s a way to dial it back and find the magic. And I think, for me, that’s really the crux of how I tried to present this work in the world is just, you know, how can we take what we’re already doing every day, and just dial it back and, and put on our ancestor eyes and our ancestral worldview, and see this for the sacred thing that it really is, because everything we do in our lives can be sacred, it is sacred, we just a lot of us don’t have the perspective, right now to see that. But I think it’s very easy to shift into that perspective. And that’s when you know, a lot of a lot of people call it mindfulness. But it’s just a way of shifting, the way that we see things and realizing that the impact that we have, is very real, even in the smallest everyday things that we do. So food is one a big, big one. You know, traditional crafts, you know, or another one, a lot of people are really crafty and enjoy working with their hands. And that can be another way into it is all kinds of art, dance, song. Any of those things are a way to just, you know, when you’re engaged in any of those things, think about, you know, why did my ancestors, why did these people start doing these things? Like what is this dance mean? Who are they dancing with? Who are they dancing for? What is the story behind this dance? Because it’s not just a dance, you know, there, there’s always something behind it. And I think part of us is part of our work in this is to find out what is the story behind behind these traditions and various folklore rituals. And it’s not something you’re going to find in a book. I mean, you might find some of it in a book. But I think the physicality of engaging with that thing, whether it is cooking a meal, or dancing, or singing, or knitting or cutting fire, you know, cutting firewood or whatever it is gardening. When you’re in it and you’re doing it. You’re engaged with the ancestors because really, we are just the most latest model of them. They are us we are them. We cannot be separated. And there’s a familiarity there. When you start doing things that your ancestors would have done that they would recognize. You can almost sense them there with you while you’re doing it.
Kelsey Mech 45:04
Yeah, that’s so true. I had an experience recently where I took a workshop with, I’ll make sure to drop the name and resource in the show notes. I’m completely blanking on her name right now. But it was a workshop on traditional form of traditional Polish, like, open throat singing. And I have kind of always I used to love to sing as a kid. And then as an adult, I’ve really shied away from using my voice, because the way I sing just doesn’t really, I find I have to like really soften my voice and make myself sort of small to like, fit in with how other people sing. And that’s never felt good. And so I took this workshop, and it was just this, like, it’s almost yelling, you know, it’s just this open throat, like someone’s calling and singing through the forest. And it just felt so right in my body. I was like, Oh, this is what my vocal cords were made for. And it was this deep resonance of like, I feel this in my
Jennn Campus 46:02
Yeah. Oh, yes. Yes. I love that. That is so awesome. I just love that.
Kelsey Mech 46:11
I don’t know that my partner loves it as much because I was like demoing it for him. And he’s like, that’s, I love it. I was like, No, this is singing for me. Okay. But I think it’s so interesting, you know, as you as you talked about, like, when we see, you know, it’s not just a dance, it’s not just a song. It’s not just a delicious, tasty dessert. It’s a whole story. It’s a whole way of being it’s a whole There’s reason behind it. And I think when we can get at all of the why and the the deeper understanding or the felt visceral sense in our bodies, that’s also when we kind of move beyond any kind of like potential, you know, even appropriation from our own culture or sort of sense of like, tokenizing usage of these things, and really deeply connected with like, No, this is a part of Yes. And I’m a part of that. Yes,
Jennn Campus 47:02
yes. I think that is such an important distinction. And you just hit the nail right on the head. Yep.
Kelsey Mech 47:11
So for people who, because I’ve had this question come up a few times, for folks who have a lot of maybe intergenerational trauma or religious trauma, or just really feel potentially come, you know, through, like, similar to your own story, have been adopted, or just feel really uncomfortable or disconnected from their ancestry. I mean, you and I are obviously really into this. And so it’s like, easy to want to dive in. But when folks feel a little more tender about this, what sort of thoughts or guidance or even suggestions do you have to just like, begin dipping your toe in the water and seeing if this might feel resonant, I think
Jennn Campus 47:50
it’s so important to remember that we individually have like millions of ancestors. So although we may have some troubled ones that we’re personally aware of, because it’s from more recent times, I think it’s important to remember that there is such a diversity in everyone’s lineages. We all have bad people. We all have, you know, people who were ill, or people who hurt other people intentionally. I mean, you cannot escape it, you know, we all have. So there’s, like, every diversity that you could possibly imagine is in your lineages, it’s there. And so I think it’s important to know that there are ancestors, maybe far back in your lineage who had a they were let’s just say they were used to your other ancestors that came after them, between you and them who revered them, because the one truth that I guess I can always filter, any of the research that I do, or the things that I do is that we all have, like a pagan past. I mean, it’s really the easiest way to explain it. You know, we all have ancestors in our past, who saw our role on this earth in a very different way than modern people do. And, and really, at cross culturally, people revere their ancestors. And so we have ancestors in our own lineages who were already part of very intact ancestral practices from our other ancestors who are sort of in the in between us and them. And they remember what it’s like to be in communication with their descendants. And so they’re kind of, you know, almost like what happened? What happened to my descendants? Why is it so quiet? On the other side now, Where has everyone gone, and so they’re ready, like they are ready to have a relationship with you, they are ready to guide help guide you and to be there for you, in so many ways, you just have to reach back there and say, you know, to the ones who are who are ready and willing to help you because they are there, you know, speak to them directly and say, you know, hey, you guys are the ones who remember what it’s like to have your descendants talk to, you helped them. And you care about this lineage, and you care about this line, come, you know, come and have relationship with me now. And it’ll happen, it’ll happen. So we don’t have to necessarily invite those other problematic ones in at the beginning, or really ever. But just like people, there’s good, there’s bad there’s in between, there’s gray areas, and it’s just our ancestors are no different. They are all, all kinds. And so it’s just important to remember that, that there are good ones out there. And there are ones that are solid, and gracious and kind and compassionate, and who want to help and who feel like that is their job in the in the other worlds to assist us.
Kelsey Mech 51:38
That’s such an important framing. And I think so often we get stuck in in considering when we want to connect with our ancestors, that it has to be a known ancestor, or you know, a grandmother, or great grandfather or whatever it might be, and that sometimes if that doesn’t feel resonant, or those people are unknown to us, or we don’t have that information, or there’s a lot of trauma there that it can just be sort of this connection to all of these, you know, as you said, millions of of unknown, but still deeply connected ancestors in our lineage. So that’s so beautiful. I love just imagining that like just all of the ancestors sort of hold us. And there’s that the endless number of people that have lived and survived in order for us to be here, it just gives me returns me to that sense of reverence, reverence, we weren’t Yeah, and I mean,
Jennn Campus 52:24
that’s, that was like we are their dream, like we are what our ancestors dreamed about. Because I mean, anybody who loves another person, or has children, you know, you know that feeling, you know, that you know, you are here to, to help them to not just survive, but to thrive and flourish and be the best versions of themselves and be happy and content with their lives. And I mean, that’s what our ancestors want from us. I mean, that’s what they lived and breathe to make possible for us. And I think that’s so important to remember is that even if we’ve had bad relationships with our family that you know, our current family or family that has passed on that’s recent, that there are ancestors behind us who deeply love us and deeply want us we are so wanted and we are so loved by them.
Kelsey Mech 53:32
That feels like a really powerful place to move toward wrapping up. Thank you so much for providing such a like beautiful smorgasbord of information in this realm. I feel like it’s such a juicy and delightful and powerful jumping off point for a lot of folks who are interested in starting to engage with this work. So if people want to find more about you, or connect with you, or work with you, where can they find you? What have you, what sort of ways do you have for people to deepen into this,
Jennn Campus 54:01
I always like to direct people first to my website, which is Jennncampusauthor.com. Because it’s really, you know, sort of the it’s the virtual hearts, I like to refer to it, as you know, where you can jump off to all different things. So I have a Patreon I have books, I have booklets and guides that I write I have classes. I have Instagram, I have all of these things, but it’s really easy to just go to the website and find what you need. They’re
Kelsey Mech 54:34
wonderful. Yeah, and I highly recommend I mean, your podcast.
Jennn Campus 54:37
Yeah, my podcast.
Kelsey Mech 54:40
information. Thank you. Hello. Yeah, no worries. I always do that. There’s always like, there’s just one too many. It’s great. It’s great. If you’re Yeah, I would highly recommend checking out any of these offerings from John if you’re like wanting to begin exploring this because I think the way you present This is just so it’s so accessible. It’s so easy and like friendly kind of tool to engage with. So for folks who are newer to this, I really appreciate the the way you invite people in days. Thank you so much. Thank you
Jennn Campus 55:14
so much for having me. I really, really appreciate it a lot. So nice to talk to you.
Kelsey Mech 55:22
Okay, folks, that was our imperfect recording with some awkward lags. But I hope you enjoyed hearing from Jenn. I know I really appreciate the breadth and scope of wisdom and ideas that she has to offer. And I hope this has given you a little bit of inspiration for where to begin your own exploration in this area. Like I mentioned at the top of the podcast, we’re going to be deep diving into all of this with Jenn and also through my guidance and invitations inside wellspring. So if you’d like to join us in that work and do a little bit of a deeper dive, we’d love to have you again, you can find that at Kelsey mech.com/wellspring Or at the link in the show notes. Otherwise, I hope you have a beautiful rest of your day spring is springing here in the northern hemisphere. And I know the world is a pretty scary place right now. So I hope you can find some point of connection in this that serves as a little bit of comfort or a bomb or some soulful medicine for you in these really really painful scary times. Thank you so much for being here sending you so much love and as always if you know someone else who might like to listen to this episode, please please share it with them. Bye for now.