The archetype of origins is in resurgence since the advent of ancestry-mapping programs. What are the psychological and symbolic meanings of ancestry? Identity is often strongly linked to ancestry in its ethnic and cultural aspects, and as the carrier of personal traits.
Genealogy gives rise to meaning-making narratives such as: I get my talent for storytelling from my Irish forebears. Jung knew that family complexes are handed down when he said, “Psychologically, the central point of a human personality is the place where the ancestors are reincarnated.” Genograms, another mapping technique, allow us to trace those intellectual and emotional family patterns.
Every individual rests on a historical foundation of family, tribe, clan, and nation—and, at levels below consciousness, we are also affected by our common roots in the primeval past and the mysterious central fire of life. In order to differentiate from this multi-layered context, it can help to know it.
“I was in a quaint English village. Next to the village ran a river, and on the other side of this river were fields. A traditional Cotswold stone bridge joined both sides of this river. Suddenly, I seemed to be competing in some sort of local race. I was competing in this race against 2 friends/girls (unknown to me). I remember pushing myself past one of the girls to place first in this race. I remember feeling a little self-conscious of the fact that I had not let this friend of mine win, and hoped that she didn’t think I was being a “dick”. The race centered and finished around the bridge joining both sides of the river. As I stood on this bridge and looked down at the river, I noticed a dog (possibly a Springer Spaniel) was drowning. I felt a strong urge to save this dog, and felt sad that it was in such distress. As I looked on in horror I noticed some netting was beginning to cover the surface of the river (a bit like when you cover a pond or swimming pool). I knew at that point the dog was going to die, as it could no longer come up for air. I could hear sirens in the distance, which seemed to indicate both the possibility of help and danger in the form of police sirens (something/someone coming to reprimand me). It was forbidden to jump in the river but I did it anyway. I pulled the dog out of the river, at which point I noticed it had morphed into a Seal. I began to care for this Seal, and in doing so, it again morphed in to a small, pudgy young boy. I held the young boy in my arms, and I told myself, “I’d do it all again despite the potential danger”. I was relieved I had saved the dog – seal – young boy. There was a sense of heroic accomplishment.”
Monica McGoldrick: source of multiple books on genograms (Amazon).