Head Desk…..

Once again, I’ve been quiet. Honestly, I’ve had a lot on my plate. But also once again, I’m drawn to post.

New Zealand has been blessed with minimal mayhem thanks to the pandemic. By this I mean, until recently, only a couple of thousand had gotten ill, and twenty had died. Most of those in the danger zone of over 60s, with underlying conditions that make mortality more likely. Indeed, we managed to get around 94% of the population double vaccinated (95% single dose) and are quickly getting numbers boosted. This is all despite a slow start to the program, due mainly to access to vaccine doses being restricted by the suppliers (we’re not high risk, or at least were when this started.)

But like the rest of the world, the omicron variant has shown itself to be much more transmissible. New Zealand has acknowledged that lock downs, and non-porous boarders are really not sustainable any longer (funny thing however is we are in no more debt than the other western nations, so anyone who says we’ve wrecked the economy, kind of needs to look further).

What has happened and I am beyond disappointed over this, is we have become infected with the mental disease of the QAnon, anti-mandate, anti-mask, anti-vaccine crowd. The is strong evidence that this is being supported by various right-wing groups, including the evangelical churches, and Steve Bannon. But before going full conspiracy, let’s just accept that it is in New Zealand and move on. This group, presumably contains mostly members of the 5 -6 % unvaccinated, as well as people tired of masking?

So here we are February 2022, and there are a few hundred (I’ve seen them, they are not thousands) adults, and some of their children who have been dragged along (and sorry but anyone too young to vote, have sex, or drink, does not count as a free willed adult, this is shown by age of consent being needed). You also have various members of right wing hate groups, and evangelical churches showing up.

Which brings us the churches. Surely you would think the health of their members was paramount. Well apparently, what is paramount is the tithing, and not being allowed to fill halls with members, to berate them into paying more than they can afford, is more important than them not getting sick, and possibly dying. Oh, and before you think I am being another pagan picking on the poor Christians, I will point out, my sister’s husband, who is a follower of the largest mega church in New Zealand, thinks the vaccine contains nano tech that will cause the mark of the beast. Needless to say my sister (not a member of said church) is not happy with his stupidity.

So, here we are, we are at a turning point in New Zealand. We’ve gone from a nation that has no terrorist attacks (to having had two in recent memory, including the mosque shootings), to a nation with no extremist churches, to the largest mega church running one of the groups against public safety measure, because of the Devil. Another group is being run by a white power leader, and now to a group equivalent to the January 6th insurrection, surrounding parliament, and calling to execute politicians, media, and spitting on people they have decided are “the other side”. Just on that last point. As I was typing this, another known neo Nazi, who was jailed for distributing video of the mosque shootings (with a kill count added for “entertainment”), was detained heading to these protests from Christchurch (his home base) because he was heard to have said he was going to execute a politician. But don’t worry they tell us it’s a “peaceful protest”.

So over lockdown in 2020 I took two DNA tests. MyHeritage and LivingDNA. I had previously uploaded my Ancestry data to these sites, out of curiosity. Well, taking a second and third DNA test in late 2019, and eventually I got results (thanks COVID-19 for delaying them).

So lets return to the results from Ancestry (noting that they have updated this a few times since)

Ancestry.com 2021

Ok so using this fairly new result I’m 99% Northern European (Scots, Irish, a little Scandinavian (no shock there, those Vikings got around), and I could join many racist groups, if I was a terrible person, though the 1% African probably disqualifies me… oh dear what a shame, how sad, never mind.

Many see Ancestry.com as the gold standard, due to a truly massive database.

The next results I got was from MyHeritage.com. This tells a somewhat different tale. Now to be fair it’s a different set of databases they have. They also look at some different areas of DNA too, but for the same noncoding parts, as those tend to be less likely to change. No sign of Africa (its probably in the Greek/Italic bits), more Scandinavia, and some Finnish. That’s funny, because in Ancestry I have relatives that have Finnish listed. English is quite high too … I’m curious how they change the distinctions between the non Scots bits of Britain.

My Heritage.com 2021

Lastly, we have LivingDNA, now they look again at different bits of your DNA, they also give you MtDNA and YDNA haplogroups so we can see if the ones I previously interrogated out for YDNA are accurate or not (hint no, but close). LivingDNA specializes in british DNA ancestry. So its bloody accurate on those bits, but quite mediocre beyond that.

LivingDNA 2021

SO, looking at the results, the overall “Gareth is of almost totally British ancestry” theme holds. As I’ve said before, my maternal family tree that’s been traced back a fairly long way, suggested this, but I did not know much about my paternal side (and that’s on “Dad “and his life choices). They also agree with my low (European) Germanic DNA, interestingly its not Scandinavian, but rather where the Anglo Saxons come from. It’s a very interesting British break down too. Zero Cymric but quite high Cornwall. My family had already said that there was a suspicion that my paternal grandfathers, umm grandfather changed his point of origin from Cornwall to Wales.

Now lets see what my YDNA and MTDNA might say?

Maternally (and I’ve had no real evidence what it is so far as my tests have all be Autosomal, not the mitochondrial DNA).

MtDNA 2021

I apparently belong to J1c1c subclade, and they’ve fiddled with the information to interrogate that about 16,500 a woman first displayed these mutations. Basically it’s a hangover from the Hunter Gatherer stock of the last round of Ice Ages. Due to its age its all over Europe and bits of the middle east (actually in the Anatolian Neolithic Farmers too, because they originated from Hunter Gatherers, and did not just spawn one day) as well. Though highest in the Balkans (though Greece is the 4th highest….hmmmm)

Now for Daddy’s contribution, the Y Chromosome. Its R-P312, That’s a sub group of R-L151, which is heavily associated with the Indo-Europeans. R-L151 is a child of R1b which is mostly Western Europeans.R-P312 is most common in Scotland and Ireland (but Spain, Denmark and England are close)

YDNA 2021

Right what was the purpose of all these comparisons?

  • Different tests give different results. Don’t take them as totally accurate on your ancestry. However, they do give an idea where you came from
  • Low % matches usually change between different tests. Don’t get married to them. Even Ancestry changes its numbers, I had no Scandinavian in my first test, now its there. Did I change? No. Their data base got more hits
  • Certain groups are poorly attested in these tests. Africa is one of them! If you know you have African Ancestry, you may not get got information in commercial tests. However there are third party sites to export that data too.
  • Don’t use these tests to define you. You are you, and that should not change with a result. Now it may influence you if you are blind to certain parts of your past.

Que a story.

As I’ve mentioned before, thanks to my Ancestry.com DNA test, I discovered a sister. I went from an only child, to having at least one (half) sibling. She and I have spent a couple of years getting to know each other.

During lockdown I got another close relative show up. A first cousin. One I did not know. Now I need to say, I know my Aunt and Uncle, and only my Uncle has had children, and his kids and I know each others. So before I looked at the DNA overlap, I KNEW it was one of “dads” relatives. This new cousin is great, she helped me fill in some blanks (and I passed this on to my sister). I have at least three half siblings (so one I knew about and two I suspected, and are now confirmed). My “dad” clearly was not big on commitment. Sadly these new siblings don’t appear interested in knowing me. Shrug.

Did that change me? Yes and no. Finding a half sister made me feel like I belonged somewhere some more. Finding more? With out telling the whole tale, no, no it did not. I kind of suspect I have bumped into these half siblings before, as we were at the same primary school at the same time (as was my cousin). If one was a bully I had…. They kind of shaped me.

Anyway that’s the DNA update.

Back to the Light

So I came back thanks to one specific post by a person I have as an acquaintance (looking at you Morgan Daimler).

I will not claim she is a friend, but we are long term acquaintances, who have shared similar group affiliations, and talked on and off. She writes great books on Paganism (and I’m told fantasy, but I’ve not read them, as they’re not in a genre of fantasy I gravitate too).

Morgan posted a day back (and I saw it 5amish this morning as I was convincing myself to surface and face the day), about the resurgence of wonky ideas about ancestry and spiritual practices.

I swear that this is a problem in a Facebook group we both belong too at least twice a year (St Patricks Day and Samhain). People somehow decide their ancestry that may or may not hold Irish links, needs to be used as an excuse for their spiritual practices.

Yes, I’ve blogged at length about this, and I am not going to rehash it all (hint there are three hyperlinks at the start of this sentence on blogs I have written). I will make a quick summary, since people have the attention span of a goldfish it seems.

  • There are are two main ways who you are was influenced:
    •  Knowledge you learned (memetic (knowledge transfer) that includes cultural behaviour).
    • Your physical you. That is Genetic (though it’s a mixture of traditional genetics and epigenetics).

Basically, there is no single way that you became you. Its not all coded in your DNA. If I was raised by my biological father and not my mother and her family, I would have a different input into (a) while (b) remained the same. Similarly if my “dad” were a different person, but the rest of my background was the same (b) would be different and (a) mostly the same (though I might not be blogging here, because who knows what my genetics would be?)

  • Your DNA does not make you an ethnic grouping, or nationality. How you were raised (so (a) again) does. Being raised in Dunedin New Zealand, makes me a New Zealander, despite markers in my DNA making me appear to be almost totally Irish/Scots. I did not grow up in that culture, I am three to four generations removed from ancestors who lived there. I am thus a New Zealander.
  • Having ancestry from an area, does not mean you just have to be on a certain spiritual path. You may feel an affinity for it, which is fine, but that is again you, not your genetics (don’t pull out genetic memory as an excuse, I will cut you). There is nothing wrong with yearning to belong. Hell as a teen I decided I was “Welsh” due to my name, and it made me different than my peers. Yeah decades later I cringe, my Cymric ancestry is minimal (despite my name). So read this slowly, do a spiritual path you feel drawn too, or don’t do it (because you don’t care too) not because your ancestors may or may not have done it, but because its you wanting to do it.
  • Modern paganism is with out many exceptions just that. Modern. Your (say) Druidic order is possibly younger than you (I know ADF was for me, by a decade). That does not invalidate it. But if they try to sell it as “the real deal”…. Leave, its full of either deluded individuals, or liars (perhaps both).
  • Embrace who you are, here and now. Don’t use spirituality as a crutch. OR if you do, don’t snark about others doing that too. I am looking at you folks who attack Abrahamic religions, then do the exact same things.

Ok that aside. Here are some home truths.

IF you only talk about your ancestry at certain times of the year. Its not that important to you. No seriously, don’t be all over Samhain or similar days then forget it again. I saw this in Milwaukee when I lived there around Irish fest. For a week, the city was full of “Irish people” then they were all Cheddar heads again. Why do I say this? Because chances are you are pissing off actual people fro that modern culture.

 You are also not a member of the pagan version of any given culture.  That died out centuries ago, and does not have the functional bits that defined it. Nor are you likely willing to do some of the spiritual practices, especially the vegans among us.

Ok that’s off my chest. Much better.

I’m back

If you actually follow this blog, you undoubtedly noticed me not posting in almost a year and a half (well ok May 2020). This is almost totally due to COVID-19. I’ve been blessed with living in New Zealand for this period, where we have been minimally impacted, thanks to a government who did not play the political game with science, and just said “this is what we need to do, get on with it”.

During this period, I’ve been working hard at work, on projects that include things that will be used in vaccines, which might be used for COVID or might not. Keeping my friends and family happy and going, and well avoiding meaningless BS.

In the last few months I’ve sadly noticed an increase in stupidity on multiple levels. New Zealand now has a growing anti-masking, antilock down, anti-vaccine movement, movement, that sadly has a chunk of my fellow pagans involved, well as our only real MegaChurch of note (ill repute?), and tinfoil hat wearers who also fear 5G and other things.

But I’m back, and ready to go a few rounds.

Next post incoming today.

Like rats from a sinking ship

Some of you who have read this blog for awhile will notice I tend to have some underlying themes and for want of a better word, stories. Well one of those stories are the adventures I’ve had with one Lee Alexander Maurer.

 

Recap\

 

For a quick recap, Lee is a Pagan (of sorts), and a martial artist, or at least has pretenses towards that title. He’s made some claims that are dubious, he’s also opened his mouth (or perhaps since its online, flexed his fingers?) and every time managed to cause himself chaos. In that story, I managed to somehow get involved with helping one of his girlfriends escape a bad situation with him. I also played a part in Lee having to seek some sort of treatment for his underlying mental conditions and substance abuse issues.

 

/recap

 

Lee has recently resurfaced online, after perhaps six months of being mostly absent. He has claimed he is in therapy, medicated and attending addiction counseling. Additionally he and I are talking again. I take anything he says, as I would from any other addict. I don’t believe it until proven true. Its not nice, but its part of his problem.

 

Now to the crux of the matter. Lee has a couple of admirable traits. One is he trusts people he feels are his friend. I admit I exploited that when I worked to stop him abusing people. I still don’t think he fully understands what happened. But that’s not what this is about. Lee has a couple of people he sees as his “friends” who he trusts with out question. These “friends” are a instigators and enablers in his problems in the martial arts community.

 

One is a gentleman who calls himself Johnny Hunter. A clearly fictious name. I am not sure he understands (but I know he reads this, so Hi “Johnny”) that he and I have intersected for some time. Back in the 00s and early 10s, I was active in the Pax Bacculum community, and the group came into conflict with two shady and now infamous members of the Marital Arts community. Ron Collins and Ashida Kim. Johnny is an acolyte of Ashida’s , and has an obsession with a couple of people from the Pax community. “Johnny” has worked on Lee, making him think he can be a great MMA fighter, and Grand Master. Lee c an not, he’s too old to have an MMA career like Johnny suggested, he also does not have the mental toughness for it. Lee and I have talked about this.

 

The other main enabler is a nobody from the Carolina’s called Michael Craig. Mr Craig is a member of the sovereign citizen movement, and an ardent ultra-conservative Christian, who supports Trump with no reservations. I am of the opinion that he has attached himself to Lee, because he wants to “save him”. Not his physical Lee, but his spiritual one. I come to this conclusion, because he talks about how many people he “saves” each time we butt heads. He’s not talking about taking them from physical danger (like a car crash), or from a bad situation (like an abusive partner). No he is “saving” their eternal souls, for his Gods war machine. Uh sorry for their own good. Mr Craig has fully admitted he believes Lee abuses his partners, but its their fault in his eyes, because Lee is into BDSM, and they know better.

 

Big deal right? Well the interesting thing that has caused me to blog, is that Lee and I interacting again, has both Johnny and Michael up in arms. I posted some advice to Lee (on his Facebook) over a situation, after he asked for help with. Neither Michael nor “Johnny” gave advice, nor support. They did come after me. Pretty clumsily. Mr Craig is angry he was removed from a Facebook group, and subsequently banned. He broke all the rules, and has nothing to moan about. When you are heading into a group to cause problems you live with the consequences. In the end it as not about Lee, it was about Michael Craig. His ego was hurt.

 

What all this illustrates, is that when someone burns brightly (even if it’s a madness causing them to burn) parasites latch on for the ride. They are quick to vanish when it comes time to burn out however.

That feeling of a coming storm?

So a lot of us have felt a coming storm for a number of years. Both Odin and herself ( An Morrigan) have been recruiting followers.

Well the current COVID 19 virus and likely recession ( or worse) counts as a storm. A shit storm if handled badly, a wild storm either way.

But it seems like we are here. What’s the play? Well for those of us who feel the call of being a Warrior I feel one mission is to stop the extremists raking hold. We’ve seen a rise in white lower types about as long as as psi and the Morrigan have been recruiting heavily. Sadly Me Wednesday seems to have grabbed some racists.

So what do we do?

Say no to bigotry

say no to abuse

Say no to just letting them be.

They want a war? Hi guys, you are u welcome. Keep moving. I hear the sun is nice this time of year.

This is fine ….

 

In psychology the idea of creeping normality (aka landscape amnesia) is used to the idea that societies choose to fail or succeed. Jared Diamond in his 2005 book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed coined the term. The idea is a failing society might choose to go out with a whimper not a bang. That societies can slowly fall apart and fail.

 

Well I am seeing this inside many older Pagan organizations, where they refuse to address the problems, and just fade away, till nothing substantial is left. In particular for me, my previous pagan church Ár nDraíocht Féin is slowly dying. Members are not renewing in increasing numbers, long term dedicated members, such as clergy and initiates are refusing to acknowledge their qualifications, and leaving, or at leat retreating from service, and finally, Groves are disbanding, or defecting .
This last part is very problematic, as the Groves held a lot of membership. For a Grove to disband or defect, it means you have a group of members, who have decided they can’t continue. Sure one or two may remain, but it does mean that most members have called it quits in the unit. We are seeing larger and larger Groves make that call. Some have chosen to just stop being, others are making arrangements to make sure that their property and funds remain with them, rather than return to the mother organization.

 

Yet the Mother grove is sitting in a burning room saying “this  is fine. ADF will justify this, as people who are not dedicated to the “excellence”, not noticing that the excellence has long since decided enough is enough. As I’ve said here before, ADF is dying. But so are other large groups. We’ve not evolved as a group of spiritual practioners.

 

 

A little knowledge is dangerous …

Its funny looking into a sub-culture from the outside. You can see things that look “normal” to them, that are bizarre to everyone else. Yes I am going to be judging them. I’m not a Christian, I’m under no spiritual compunction not to judge 😛

 

The sub culture in this case is the white power movement. They latch onto some odd ideas to justify their core idea of “white people are the pinnacle of human evolution and social evolution”.

 

One of the most ridiculous examples they use is lactose persistence. The ability to drink milk, as an adult, and not have digestive issues.

 

But lets take a step back. Somewhere in the last decade or so, white power types have co-opted aspects of the straight edge lifestyle.

 

The what?

 

Straight edge grew out of the punk subculture and its members refrain from using alcohol, tabacco, and other drugs. Some taking it even further to not partake in promiscuous sex, caffeine, or even prescription drugs, though this last part is uncommon. Many members are however vegan.
Well the white power movement was for a time bedevilled by alcohol and elicit drug abuse. Many of the white power gangs made money through selling drugs (like methamphetamine) and of course partook in their product. But since the rise of the Alt-right, probably before that even, its been encourage to abstain from alcohol (at least in public), illicit drugs, most certainly promiscuous sex (more on that soon). They’ve adopted drinking milk in public displays of homoerotica…uh I mean supremacy. Yeah “supremacy”…. Well take a look for yourselves.

 

White power ninnies

Yes that’s  right, these homophobic white men, strip shirtless, and chug milk, jump around, and slam into each other. Embacing their manly, milk digesting, superior selves.

 

But what made this subculture decide that the ability to drink milk is a sign of being superior? One of their members must have had some level of education, and read that you could trace the migration of animal herding peoples that might be the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) culture. They stopped reading pretty much around there as far as I can tell.

 

A Quick lesson

 

Lactase persistence (the ability to digest milk using the lactase enzyme into adulthood is not the norm for most mammals, including humans. However sometime between two thousand and twenty thousand (2 000 to 20 000) years ago there was a mutation in the MCM6 gene that allowed digestion (using the lactasae enzyme) of milk to hang around (that’s the persistence part). The cultural advantage of this was, you did not have to kill the milk (lacatase) bearing animals you had domesticated, you could drink milk, make cheese and butter, and have a mobile food source.

 

Pretty cool right? Wow, those PIE folks were superior as hell right?

 

Well you white power nit wit, I have bad news for you. There are at least six different mutations (all good old single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the MCM6 gene), further its not unique in any way to Europeans. Its seen in Central Asia and Africa (which contains 5 of the 6 mutation variants). Africans really have to wind the white power types up. But sorry boys, its there, and they appear to have evolved all by themselves.

 

I don’t expect these goose-stepping fools to listen, or read, let alone understand this. They see milk as a symbol of white (its literally that colour) purity. The ability to drink it as a sign of being more evolved, and well its non-intoxicating right? Oh wait….. Add to this, the idea that people who avoid milk (especially if they are “white”) are liberal idiots, they even have a name for them “Soy Boys”. What we have here is a political movement co-opting science, for its own needs.

 

Sadly for these individuals they conveniently ignore some hard facts.

 

While the idea of “race” as we know it is pretty much social, not scientific, you can group people into broad clumps. The interesting thing is that if you go back several thousand years, you do not see the “races” that racists think of. In Europe there are three major groups that met, and blended:

 

  • The Hunter Gatherers (HG) of the Paelo and Mesolithic.
  • The First Farmers of the Mesolithic, probably from Anatolia.
  • The Steppe Pastoralis probably out of the Eurasian Steppe. Oh these are the people most likely to be the PIE folk I’ve mentioned.

 

hunter-map.f1d122250ff8

Figure 1: Hunter-Gatherer migration

 

The White power types always seem to want to be Hunter-Gatherers, thinking they are more manly, and primal. So lets talk about the HG peoples. Figure 1 shows how we believe they migrated int o Europe. You will notice the ice caps are on that map. These tough people were around near the end of the last Ice Age, and survived. They had blue eyes that account for 75% of the variation in blue eyes vs non-blue yes in modern Europeans. They had dark hair. What the racists will not like hearing is the next part, they had dark skin. Yes indeed, these were not white people. Bugger. This fact, when mentioned, causes racists to rant about Liberal academics, and that these folks could not have been white. What they don’t get, is anyone can test this, if they have the knowledge of how to an analyse the freely available ancient genome data.

farmer-map.2cc9a4a6dfcf

Figure 2: Migration of the First Famers.

 

The First farmers probably came out of Anatolia (or the farming skills did). Figure 2 shows the general migratory path they may have taken. Please note that these folks still had some ice to deal with, but Europe was thawing. No unmixed groups of these people survive today, though modern-Sardinians have the highest percentages of that group in their makeup. These people mixed with the HG people to some extent, ultimately leading to the extinction of that way of life, but its unclear if this was because the HG folk took farming up, or the unmixed groups died out. What is clear is that there were probably only a few thousand HG folk in Europe, due to the way of life being intensive. There were many thousands of these first farmers.

 

yamnaya-map.873c2b500a8e

Figure 3: Migrations of the Steppe Pastoralists.

 

The Steppe Pastoralist lifestyle came out of Eurasian steppe, and brought with it the beginnings of the Europe we know today. The Celts, Germans, Slavs, Italians, Greeks, etc can all traced to these pioneers. Its believed that somewhere on the Russian Steppes, the farmers mixed with the Hunter  gatherers of eastern Europe, to give the society call the Yamnaya culture, then around 5000 years ago, they entered Europe. Ultimately they replaced 90% of the farmers on Britain and 30% of those on the Iberian peninsula.

 

So the white power types all want to return to a hunter gather lifestyle (or be Vikings, not that they know what that means). So they need to darken their skin, stop drinking milk, oh and reduce their numbers a lot.

 

As for wanting to be Vikings. The job of Viking, was that just a job. On top of that, Vikings  tended to dress in a flashy manner, perfumed their hair, and beards, and gave control of their funds to their wives or mothers. They lived on an allowance. Oh and if their wife wanted a divorce? She just had to say it, and she got it. That’s not what the misogynistic Alt-right things now is it?

 

Ok last topic to tackle:

 

As I mentioned near the top. Part of some of the straight edge culture could include the lack of promiscuity. The white nationalist movement has grabbed this with both hands. They’re all about feminism killing the white race, and how a woman should be subservient to the male. But there is also the sub subculture, of the involuntary celibate (inCel). Not surprisingly a growing number of far right men, can’t get a relationship. This could be ascribed to a total inability to connect with women as people, but no, they claim it’s a feminist plot, to destroy the white race. ]

 

There you have it, the superior white male, who drinks milk, and wants to be a hunter gatherer and a Viking warrior, with subservient women, missing the point, milk digestion is not unique to the European, Vikings wore perfume and listened to their wife on matters of money, and the HG they idolize had dark skins. Chew on that boys.

 

That memory is not in your genes

An other less racist result from last weeks shenanigans online, was people bringing up the idea that “genetic memory” is a thing.

 

That is used by racists, but the general public have also mistake what this really is.

 

When people talk about studies in “genetic memory” they really are talking about epigenetics. This is “the study of heritable phenotype changes that do not involve alterations in the DNA sequence”. Most of the studies have been performed on a very simple organisms (nematodes mostly), but has indeed been observed in humans. Though the “memory” is not quite what people want it to be. One of the most famous studies is one involving the descendants of the survivors of the Dutch Famine of 1944 to 1945. (1)

 

All well and good. But what did the study find? Well that the descendants tended to have an increased level of glucose intolerance into adulthood. There is only one problem here. That is a trend in modern populations anyway.

 

Similarly, descendants of Holocaust survivors have altered stress hormone level. (2)
While I am not going to deny there is a correlation of some sort here. I will stand up to anyone who calls this evidence of genetic memory. To begin with it does not involve changing the DNA directly, and then we move onto the fact, that glucose intolerance is not a memory in the brain. Using these as an example is a stress. It has to be noted the two main examples waved around, are most likely caused by catastrophically horrible events from a few generations ago. IF we were to say our religious preference is from 1500 years ago,  that’s a large number of generations (on the average of 25 years per generation that is 60 generations ago). What changed someone’s epigenetics enough, to make a modern recreation of spiritual practices of a dead culture so strong that their “blood calls out to it?”.

 

SO, no, genetic memory is not a thing for culture. No there is no scientific evidence of it. Stop playing in science. Stick to spirituality, and be happy.

References

  1. Veenendaal, M. V., et al. Transgenerational effects of prenatal exposure to the 1944-45 Dutch famine. BJOG. Apr 2003, Vol. 120, 5, pp. 548 -553.
  2. Rodriguez, Tori. Descendants of Holocaust Survivors Have Altered Stress Hormones. Scientific American. [Online] scientificamerican.com/article/descendants-of-holocaust-survivors-have-altered-stress-hormones/.

 

 

Worlds End

First I’ve had a good week of Music. I saw Queen plus Adam Lambert live

And I also got to hear the first single from Illumishade

Everything happens in cycles it seems, and well one particular topic seems to happen at least once every quarter.

 

Late last week, I got to play another round of whack-a-racist. There were two sources of this:

 

  • The Conovirus

And

  • The ever-present idea that your ancestral heritage, as proscribed by DNA tests, dictates your spiritual path in some way.

So lets talk about these in turn.

 

To me the most concerning one was the Coronavirus (more correctly A Novel Coronavirus aka nCoV) bigotry. So let’s start there.

 

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large common family of viruses. The can cause things from the Common cold, to the Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and yes the current paranoia over nCoV.

 

Take a second to digest that. The common cold is one of the conditions that can be caused. Now to be fair the “common cold” is caused by over 200 different viruses, and that’s why we don’t have a vaccine for it. I would also point out to populations who had never been exposed to the “common cold”, such as the American First Nations, the common cold was devastating, and killed innumerable numbers.

 

Still not convinced. Then go google the “Spanish Flu” epidemic that began in 1918 (and is one reason that WW1 actually ended) and dragged on to December 1920. It had a mortality rate of about 20%. Let that sink in. 1 in 5 who caught it, died. ONE in FIVE. It is estimated to have infected 500 million people out of the estimated 1.8 billion alive at that time. The Death toll low estimate is 50 million, and probably was 100 million, or 3 to 6% of the planets humans died. This is all from a influenza that suddenly became much worse than the seasonal flu. For the record it is called the Spanish flu, not because it started there, its been traced to a battlefield hospital in France, the Spanish as a neutral nation in the world war, just reported honestly, and did not censor things. Indeed, some postulate that the Spanish flu ended the first world war faster than with out its presence.

 

Let’s look at nCoV, which is in its early days. There is the problem that many nations are not reporting in a timely manner on how many people have it, let alone how many are dead. But using the Johns Hopkins website  as of me typing this, there have been roughly 37 500 people with it, 2 900 got better, and 814 dead. Quick and dirty mathematics shows the mortality at the moment is about 2%.

 

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Figure 1

 

Figure 1 shows a breakdown of major viruses over the last 50 or so years, from Marberg to nCoV. Its early days but nCoV has actually the lowest morality rate of these so-called global pandemics. But let’s call it a Chinese virus, and shut every thing down ok? Now when I lived in the USA I got the H1N1 influenza of 2009, aka Swine Flu. I was very lucky to not get a severe case, but it did cost me 2 weeks off of work (they quarantined me from returning). In the US it had a mortality of 17.4%. DO we call this an American Virus? Because it started in either Mexico or the USA? Nope. We don’t. Was the USA quarantined from the rest of the world? Nope, business as usual.

 

idiots everywhere

Figure 2

 

Add to this people claiming it is an escaped and engineered virus from a biolab in Wuhan, its nothing but racism. (Figure 2) Indeed some people think that the virus has HIV as part of it’s genome.  All because the Chinese are trying HV anti viral drugs to try and stop the progress in a host. People assume it’s a bioweapon. If it is it has done two things (a) Its failed, as its mortality is terrible (thankfully) and (b) who ever did it is really good at making it look natural. Sadly (a) and (b) are mutually excusive of one another.

 

Now for the other source of racism of my weekend.

 

DNA tests and ancestry. I’ve blogged on this so much, I am not going to even link the damned blogs. If in doubt go read them, if you don’t care? Why are you reading my blog then?

 

But in summary.

 

DNA tests:

 

  • DNA tests only give broad brush strokes of your ancestry. There is no marker for being (say) Celtic or Germanic. At best they tell you you are descended (say) from someone from the British Isles, or Western Europe. These tests are more likely to throw in a curve ball for you, like you have African heritage, or NO British heritage.
  • These tests are measuring a portion of your DNA, where they expect to find a three “letter” code, and it has changed potentially changed by a single letter. These are known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). These are not unique to any ethnic group, but some have been shown to have a higher proportion of one over another.
  • The assigning of say “British Isles” heritage may vary depending on the company testing. Don’t get too attached to the results, or up in arms over them. As I’ve blogged I am either 1% Polynesian (from an old test I did at University in 2010), 1% African (according to Ancestry.com) or 1% Greek (according to another site, using the Ancestry data, but a different data base to compare it too).

 

Take all that and remember this.

 

Culture does not get transmitted by your DNA. You must learn it from someone. You are not born speaking the language, knowing the songs, the rituals, the sports. You learn that. So you could be a Pakistani born in Glasgow, who wears plaid and plays the bagpipes, and be more Scottish than someone in the USA who has done all the research into their ancestral clan (of course forgetting they are more than one Clan in heritage).

 

If you feel drawn to a spiritual path, because of your actual or perceived ancestry, more power to you. But even if your DNA test agrees with your personal gnoses, it still does not mean you are any more  that culture than anyone else is. Chances are you are drawn to a pre-Christian Indo-European path. That means you are at least 1000 years if not longer removed from that culture. Your more recent ancestors were all most likely Christian. So you are choosing to follow a path, and you are justifying it, based on something that is not actually so.

 

IF you can’t cope with this idea. Its not my fault. But be honest, you have all chosen this path on some level. I know I did.

 

A little retelling of my pagan history.

 

In High school (a Scottish Presbyterian private school I got a scholarship too, my mother worked to keep me in, and my absent father was made to pay to send me too) I identified initially as an atheist. But by what Americans would call my freshman year (the school was 7 years not 4, combining middle and High School) I had decided to walk the path that is today called heathenry. By the time I went to my first year of University that changed to “Celtic” Paganism. That began as “Druidry” but has over the decades become Celtic Reconstructionism. I did not go there, because I was drawn by ancestors, no I liked the myths, and Legends. Once there, the Gods (one in particular) drew me in deeper, but I can’t blame my DNA.

 

So moral of the story? Don’t be a racist prick. I’ll go after you 🙂