When I took my first DNA test, it was not because I expected or wanted this hobby to become a passion. I was merely somewhat interested to see whether my ethnic breakdown percentages matched what I expected and whether or not I should change my diet based on genetic predispositions.
When I learned about my male line ancestors through Y chromosome testing, I became more intrigued because the path of my ancestors did not seem obvious based on the data at hand.
At the time it seemed like that J-M241 in general was less understood than other haplogroups, many of which had been broadly associated with the expansions of certain ancient technologies, such as agriculture, horse domestication and metallurgy. I wanted to help solve the mystery behind my lineage. Where did they go and what were they doing?
Now I have come to realize that many of these associations were oversimplifications. The story of an entire haplogroup over 30,000 years cannot be boiled down to a 1:1 association with a particular ethnic group that formed 1000 years ago. Even so, people have a hard time unlearning that I1 means Anglo Saxon or Norse because it has been the dominant narrative for so long.
A few years ago, I decided that the distribution of modern samples pointed to a possible Celtic origin of my lineage, J-Z1043. I became interested to learn more about these people. I did a pilgrimage by bicycle to Celtic sites in Germany, culminating in Celtoi 2017 at Ringwall Otzenhausen. The following year I saw the Golden Hats in Berlin, remnants of a possible early continental Celtic rite.
I feel content with this ancient association, even though it is not for certain and could change over time. People want to feel connected to something greater than themselves. And somehow I find my ancient ancestors' mysticism more fulfilling and interesting than modern equivalents.
We are lucky to live in a time when a $58 test can forge a link between you and the ancient world via the path of your ancient ancestors.