The Deeper Meaning

It is well-known that genealogy is one of our most popular and rewarding leisure pursuits. Technology in data archiving and in genetics have certainly expanded the limits of enquiry but far less explored are the motivations that drives the enthusiasm for ancestry. This is an ancient pursuit in every culture and the present-day flurry of activity is only the latest manifestation of what is a very primal instinct. But why should we be interested in our ancestors at all and why for the past twenty years should people have spent time and money on not inexpensive genetic tests to find out about them?

The urge to connect to close relatives is strong, most likely an evolved response to our dependence on kinship in the ancient past. Then we all lived very different lives, hunting in small bands, protecting each other from predators, and in many different ways surviving the rigours of the Ice Age. The instincts that sustained us are still alive, even as they lie dormant in our unconscious minds. Our DNA serves as a portal to these ancient rhythms.

I have attached two video clips to illustrate this. The first is by the eminent Jungian psychoanalyst Dr. Anthony Stevens who has spent a lifetime exploring these antique instincts. The second is by Sting and the Police whose 1989 track “Every breath you take” seems to expose a more sinister side to human nature but which to me encapsulates the ever watchful presence of our ancient maternal ancestor who gave us her DNA so that we might breathe until the day we die.