Those Who Came Before
Our ancestors are always connected to us. Every day of the year. At this time of year (Samhain/Hallows) and at Beltane when the veils between the realms are thinner, it is easier to access this connection, to feel, hear, and sometimes see the spirits of our lineage.
Some folks have an ongoing relationship with them and some honor occasionally and some have no interaction at all. What is ‘right’ is what works for you at this stage in your life. Be open to that changing as you change, as your needs and lessons change, and as you learn more of the how and why regarding ancestral connection.
A common challenge for people is the desire to have ancestral connection yet not with all of their ancestors. Some ancestors, just like those in our current life and time, were hateful, abusive, or other forms of unsavory and undesirable. How do we connect with only those we desire to? Is that the best choice… all or nothing? Any advantage to honoring or at least acknowledging the undesirable ones? This recent blog by occult author and teacher, Jason Miller, gives wonderful perspective and options for this quandary. https://bit.ly/3BB9QOQ
Who are the Ancestors? There are various categories of lineage that people choose to honor. Some honor a chosen line of connection, while others honor some or all. Again, it is what is pertinent to you personally that should determine your workings. There are ancestors of bloodline, ancestors of the craft (witches who came before us in time even if no direct genetic relation to us. They survived and passed the lessons of magic along which has in some form trickled to us as well – the knowledge and the power to survive.), and the lineage of your personal wisdom and gnosis – the minds and souls whose existence, work, written word, teachings, and example – have helped to inform who you have created yourself to be today.
Honoring ancestors is not solely done at an altar. They are literally all around us. Their energy infused in the air we breathe and imbedded in our inner wisdom and intuition.
To make an Ancestor Altar – a physical space indoors – recommendations are as follows: Photos or items of your beloved dead, letters they sent to you personally are extra potent for reforging communication currently, offerings of their favorite alcoholic beverage (there is an aspect to alcoholic drinks that make them a favorable offering even if we ourselves do not partake in alcohol – vapors and essence and influence from alcohol connect with spirits in a special way), favorite food or drink – coffee, tea, cake, cookies, fruits. White candles are always best when connecting to, communicating with, and honoring spirits.
The ‘work’ can be as simple as setting this space with honor and reverence – even a tealight in front of a single photo – and saying hello, sharing a favorite memory of them, expressing gratitude to them and for them for all that they were, are, and experienced.
You can also honor your ancestors outside – any time of day or night. This can be at their gravesite, or ANYWHERE out in nature. If there is a place they used to enjoy – even if it is a local (to you) version of it – for example, sitting under a tree – select a spot, and either sit there in communication - verbal or silent – with them, and/or leave offerings and call them to the space, and proceed much as you would at an indoor altar. Use only SAFE candles (ie a tealight in glass or metal) and NEVER leave it unattended – you can snuff a candle after your ritual outside and bring the candle indoors to relit and finish safely there), and make sure that all food is safe for wildlife (NO chocolate outside – very enticing AND very toxic to animals) as they will come by to eat it, and do not litter and abuse the Earth – leave all offering on the ground directly (yes cookie on the ground, pour your libation on the ground) or place in something that is food itself – ie carve out inside of a small pumpkin or orange and put food or drink offerings in the scooped out half orange peel as a cup.
You also – need none of this – speak from your heart – anywhere – any time.
Remember as you honor your ancestors that you, yourself are an ancestor in the making to all who are in your world…those who interact with you and learn from you, get inspired by you, as well as genetic relations.
As Samhain approaches, the veil thins… you can begin your ancestral rites at any point in time, but especially in these days.
Remember that they are there for you – they lived so that you may live; they survived so that you may exist. If you need their help – protection, blessings, guidance – ask for it with respect and gratitude.
May you and your ancestors revel together in the amazing magic of this season, and may you feel their magic within your own.
*I do not know who the artist of this image is. Please advise if have such information so that I can edit to attribute artistic credit. Thank you.*