Your body is an ancestor. Your body is an altar to your ancestors. Every one of your cells holds an ancient and anarchic love story. Around 2.7 billion years ago free-living prokaryotes melted into one another to form the mitochondria and organelles of the cells that build our bodies today. All you need to do to honor your ancestors is to roll up like a pill bug, into the innate shape of safety: the fetal position. The curl of your body, then, is an altar not just to the womb that grew you, but to the retroviruses that, 200 million years ago taught mammals how to develop the protein syncytin that creates the synctrophoblast layer of the placenta. Breathe in, slowly, knowing that your breath loops you into the biome of your ecosystem. Every seven to ten years your cells will have turned over, rearticulated by your inhales and exhales, your appetites and proclivity for certain flavors. If you live in a valley, chances are the ancient glacial moraine, the fossils crushed underfoot, the spores from grandmotherly honey fungi, have all entered into and rebuilt the very molecular make up of your bones, your lungs, and even your eyes. Even your lungfuls of exhaust churn you into an ancestor altar for Mesozoic ferns pressurized into the fossil fuels. You are threaded through with fossils. Your microbiome is an ode to bacterial legacies you would not be able to trace with birth certificates and blood lineages. You are the ongoing-ness of the dead. The alembic where they are given breath again. Every decision, every idea, every poem you breathe and live is a resurrection of elements that date back to the birth of this universe itself.

Today I realize that due to the miracle of metabolic recycling, it is even possible that my body, somehow, holds the cells of my great-great grandmother. Or your great-great grandmother. Or that I am built from carbon that once intimately orchestrated the flight of a hummingbird or a pterodactyl. Your body is an ecosystem of ancestors. An outcome born not of a single human thread, but a web of relations that ripples outwards into the intimate ocean of deep time.

Your Body is an Ancestor, Sophie Strand

"Your Body is an Ancestor" by Sophie St…

— Grandma, how to do deal with pain?

— With your hands, honey. If you do it with your mind in place to relieve the pain, it becomes even harder.

— With our hands grandma?

— Yes. Our hands are the antennae of our soul. If you move them by weaving, cooking, painting, playing, or sinking them into the ground, you send signals of care to the deepest part of you. And your soul lights up because you are paying attention to it. Then the pain signals will no longer be necessary.

— Are hands really that important?

— Yes, my daughter. Think of babies: they begin to know the world thanks to the touch of their little hands. If you look at the hands of old people, they tell you more about their life than any other part of the body. Everything that is made by hand is said to be made with the heart. Because it is really like that: the hands and the heart are connected.

Masseurs know it well: when they touch the body of another person with their hands they create a deep connection.

It is precisely from this connection that he comes to healing.

Think of lovers: when they touch hands, they make love in a more sublime way.

— My hands grandma ... how long have I not used them like this!

— Move them, my love, start creating with them and everything within you will move. The pain will not pass. And instead what you do with them will become the most beautiful masterpiece. And it won't hurt anymore. Because you will have been able to transform its essence.

Grandma, how to do deal with pain? by E…