Ancestry DNA: Dwelling in the Tents of Shem

To please my genealogist mother, I paid £65 to Ancestry DNA for the privilege of having them analyse a bottle of my saliva. They pass the substance through their machines, comparing its genetic data to their worldwide records. It tells me where my ancestors came from and matches me with distant cousins, sometimes around the world. It is expensive, but potentially interesting. It correctly identified my own mother, which was a relief, and so far has listed 168 distant relations. As the current TV ad campaign wears on, I imagine this number will swell further.

Not surprisingly, 94% of my DNA is typically ‘English and Northern European’, with the remainder being Scotch or Irish. Within England, my ancestors came from the Northwest (Lancashire and Westmorland) and Pennine Yorkshire. As someone living in Lancashire a mile from the Yorkshire border, it’s fair to say that I've not strayed far from my ancestral stomping grounds.

Before the Roman invasion, my ancestors worshiped Amaethon, god of agriculture, and Aine, goddess of love and summer. When the Romans came, they absorbed the invaders’ pantheon, including Jupiter the king of heaven and Venus goddess of love. My Saxon forbears brought their own deities to the island. Woden, after whom the day is named, and his wife Frige, to whom women prayed to care for their households. The Norse and Danish invaders gave them their own names, Odin and Freya. As the medieval period climaxed, they began worshiping pieces of bread, along with saints such as Wilfrid and Felicity. My latter kin abandoned such devotion, but they pursued wealth and prosperity with all the zeal of any druid. To think that the God of heaven, whom my ancestors ignored and discarded, should call me to join His Israel is astounding indeed: 

‘God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem’.