Being October, the most holy month of Samhain, (a time we pagans set aside to honor our ancestors) seemed like an apropos time to receive my Ancestry.com DNA Test Kit. Elated? That would be putting it mildly. I have been wanting to do an ancestry DNA test for years now, and thanks to a generous gift from my grandma Susanne, I have done so!!!
I expected the finger prick, with carefully placed drops of blood, in neat little circles; but it was not like that at all. The test consisted of a small cardboard box with nifty design, a padded business return envelope, and a plastic vial to catch my saliva. That’s right, saliva not blood. You fill the vial with a small amount of saliva (I did it in one tongue rolling mouth churn) up to a very clearly defined black line. Once you have the requisite amount of saliva you close the first lid which breaks a seal and pours a solution into your saliva that the box says, “helps stabilize your DNA sample”. Pop it in the return envelope, activate your test online with a code, mail it, and your done.
I am not sure yet what information I will get back but the test sounds like one of the most thorough offered anywhere. Without getting too technical, the new test analyzes your autosomal DNA, which includes the entire genome—all 23 pairs of chromosomes—as opposed to only looking at the Y chromosome or Mitochondrial DNA. Not only can everyone take the new test, but it also provides a more complete picture of your family history. Also, the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests look at much smaller amounts of your DNA. For example, YDNA tests only look at about 40 locations whereas AncestryDNA comprehensively looks at the entire genome at over 700,000 locations.
This fascination all started for me when I read a book a few years back called “The Seven Daughters of Eve”. Despite the obvious Christian title I decided to read it anyway. (Joking) It was a fascinating read to say the least. The main topic of the book is that through DNA research, researches and scientists have discovered that all people of European descent are descended from one of seven women, dubbed the “Seven Daughters of Eve”. Through the study of mutation, and descendent distribution, researchers have come up with rough dates on when they arrived in Europe and where they lived. They even have names:
- Ursula (Latin for she-bear)
- Xenia (Greek for hospitable)
- Helena (Greek for light)
- Velda (Scandinavian for ruler)
- Tara (Gaelic for rocky hill)
- Katrine (Greek for pure)
- Jasmine (Persian for flower)
Oh the pagan in me started to drool reading this book! And not only that, researchers have done extensive testing on the Y chromosome as well; this is the imprint of male ancestry. For instance did you know that researchers have determined that the famous *Pagan* Irish King Niall of the Nine Hostages has over 3 million descendents? (Crossing fingers) The research would be far to long to detail here, but author Bryan Sykes does a Carl Sagan like job in explaining it to us lay folk.
Here is a list of the things I hope to discover:
- Who of the Seven Daughters can I call “grandma”?
- To which line of Y chromosome males do I belong to?
- What was the migration route that my ancestors took into Europe from Africa?
- What are my ethnicity percentages?
- Do I really have an American Blackfoot ancestor or is it just a fable in my family?
- Do I have blood from people/places that I would never expect?
I will be posting the test results here when I get them! It is going to be a long 6 to 8 weeks.