Like many dreamers, I want to embrace spooky action at a distance. I’m also pragmatic and tend to poopoo too much cosmic debris, as the late great Frank Zappa might describe it. I may have my head in the clouds, but my feet are firmly planted on the Cozy Toes heater under my desk.

Because I do a lot of writing (mostly resumes) for women at the age of enlightenment (50+), I am interested in and feel called to my own demographic. And so, I signed up for the online workshop “Empowered Aging for Women.” I want to empower women (myself among them) and the workshop was led by one of my best friends. Katherine and I met when I was 21; she was 22. She is now Dr. Katherine Lawson, MA, Ph.D. She is a psychotherapist who specializes in dreams. I figured what the hell, two birds, one stone. I’ll learn something about my peers and see my friend at work.

I got more than two birds.

On the first day of the workshop, I fell in love with an actress who also does standup comedy about her Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. This is the subject of an entirely different love letter.

On the second day of the workshop, Katherine led us in an ancestral healing journey/experience/hogwash…what? As much as I love and admire Katherine, I was on the hogwash end of that continuum. But I’m nothing if not game.

Katherine explained that if we wanted to plumb the depths of our father’s mother’s ancestors, we should direct our attention to the right. If we wanted to check in with our mother’s mother’s ancestors, we should look left. I moved away from the computer to the couch (where I would not fall off the exercise ball that is my work chair). Dewey cuddled up on my left. I have always been closer to my mother’s mother. And I am a dog person. I settled in.

(I later learned that in the practice of ancestral healing, dogs are considered strong messengers and allies of the “ancestral/spirit realm.”)

Katherine talked us into a semi-hypnotic state and drummed us into an experience with our ancestors. (She actually played a drum, which made my blood pressure skyrocket and brought my breath into the top of my chest. I have always been a staunch opponent of drum circles.) I entered the experience regardless. There I met a short, strong, and old woman. Her hands were big and commanding, fingertips cracked from hard work. She was at the seaside. Not the Jersey Shore, but a small fishing village in Sweden. The earth was cold and muddy, the sea smelled of low tide. She wore a wool dress, wool stockings, sturdy leather shoes, an apron, a scarf over her head. She did not smile, but her eyes flashed.

At my first glimpse of her, I immediately saw younger versions of herself in rapid succession—the youngest of which looked very like my mother as a young girl. She chastised me for getting ahead of myself. “Come back,” she commanded. “We are right here.”

Katherine instructed us to ask our ancestor the date. Mine scowled. “Eighteen hundreds,” she said to me as if I should have known better. 

Katherine instructed us to ask for a blessing we could take back into our lives. My ancestor scowled again, but this time, after the frown, she winked. “You’ll have to work for that,” she said.

After twenty minutes or so, Katherine called us back to our group on Zoom. She could see my face and asked me to tell of my experience. After the workshop, I texted Ann my sister. She is a genealogy buff, inspired by our late grandmother. “Do you have any photographs of Grandma Lindquist’s mother or grandmother? Do you know their names?” Of course she did. She is dependable like that. “Charlotte’s mother was Hilda Maria Olausdotter, changed to Olsson when she arrived in the US. Her mother was Maria Eriksdotter.” (In Sweden at the time, surnames reflected origin very specifically. Hilda Maria Olausdotter was the daughter of Olaus; Maria Eriksdotter’s dad was Erik, Maria’s brother’s last name was Erikson.)

These women were not quite far enough back for my spooky action. Maria’s mother, however, fit the bill. Annika Nilsdotter was born 1813 in Jämjö, Sweden. She died in 1854 near the coast. She worked hard, had children, fished. Hello, Annika! She lived only 41 years, which is why I suspect I saw so many younger versions of her. 

Ann did not have a photograph. But I speculated that Annika’s peers probably all had the same manner of dress. I Googled. The woman you see in the image above is very like the woman I met in my semi-hypnotic state. She is an Affischorskan which means fisherwoman in Swedish.

No wonder I love pickled herring!

*“Entanglement is what Einstein referred to as “spooky action at a distance.” It’s a phenomenon by which one particle can effectively “know” something about another particle instantaneously, even if those two particles are separated by a great distance.”