Ancestral Work and Practices
Last year my post in the Pagan blog project on ancestors (Ancestors and why Ancestral Veneration exists)was at the start of my exploration of ancestral worship and working with the powers and spirits of our ancestors. Most of what I was doing there really had no meaning to me. It was a basic understanding of concepts. Yes I had an ancestral altar that was set up but there really wasn’t any meaning to my work. I prayed to my ancestors because I thought I should. The altar was set up because I thought I needed one. There was no reason behind any of it.
I did believe that our ancestors had power. I just wasn’t sure how to work with them. I knew that as I had said in ancient cultures it was a common practice. I also knew that there were a few modern pagan religions that had continued the practice of ancestral veneration. I saw that it was a part of many forms of traditional witchcraft and as well as part of Asatru. So I wanted to make it a part of my path. I wasn’t sure how.
For me part of it was the process of how complex my ancestry is. I consider the fact that I have spiritual ancestors. Those are the people who were the first authors in bringing witchcraft to the world today. In that group is Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valienete, Sybil Leek, and several others. I also have my ancestors of the heart. This is where my Foster and Adoptive ancestors lie. They are not connected to me by blood but by the bonds of love through my adoption and family ties. Then I have my ancestors of blood. These would be the ancestors tied to my biological family. These multiple ancestral lines were some of the reasons I wasn’t sure how I could work with my ancestors. Which type did I honor and work with?
I recently started to realize that I can work with all of my ancestors in different ways. I just needed to think about applying ancestral veneration in different ways that did not just relate to prayers and offerings at the altar. I found that because I had the different lines I could find three different ways that I can honor my ancestors and so far this revelation has been working for me.
My witchcraft ancestors (Gardner, and the like) I work with and honor simply by continuing to practice witchcraft and keep it alive. They feared that witchcraft would die out. Instead it has grown beyond what they imagined. So for me to practice, study, and explore as many venues of witchcraft as I can is a way of honoring the witches who have walked the paths before me. This was one of the first ways I actually started to work with my spiritual ancestors.
My ancestors of the blood were a bit different. I did some traces of where the various ancestral lines my biological family came from. In this practice I have found that my ancestry is Germanic in nature. Around the same time I had a dream where several of the Germanic/Norse Gods appeared calling for me and for one of them. I concluded that by studying and by working with the Gods of my blood ancestral tribes I could honor them as well. So that was another way I could honor my ancestors. It has worked well for me.
Its been my adoptive ancestral lines that I have really had some issues working in. While I prayed to my Grandmother for advice (she had made herself known to me early on as a spirit guide for me) I had no real way to integrate the rest of that ancestral line into my life and I honestly didn’t think that they would approve of the work I was doing. So it was something I didn’t quite understand.
Even in my studies of Traditional witchcraft while I would acknowledge the power of the ancestors in the land I wasn’t I was sure I actually believed in. I also never actually called my ancestral powers into ritual before. I would call on the spirits of the land and the God and Goddess but not my ancestor when I was doing that work.
Now things have actually changed. I am actively working with my ancestors. I pray daily and I actively maintain an altar to them. On this altar I regular light a candle to them as an offering. I also give them fresh and clean water on a regular basis so that when they visit they always have a clean drink. In rituals I have an item I use to give them a manifestation in the room that sits on the altar the rest of the time.
Yes. I never actually worked with my ancestors in magic or in rituals before. Now things have started to change. I actually call them into my rituals. They have a place that they can manifest in ritual and in magical work. Like the God and Goddess can manifest in my statues and in me, my ancestors have a vessel with which they can manifest in this world during ritual. I am actively forming relationships with them like I would any other spirits, through now working with them in formal rituals.
Recently I have started to study a new magical tradition. I have started to study Hoodoo. Now I am not African American nor do I belong to the culture that Hoodoo was created in and for. That being said I do respect the origins and I know that today Hoodoo is not practiced by just those of African American descent or in that culture. There are Caucasian Americans who practice this art. They all however pay respects to the origin of the path and understand where the roots of Hoodoo come from.
Hoodoo in some forms was heavily influenced by forms of Catholicism. My adoptive ancestry on my mother’s side is all Catholic. I have felt that by practicing and studying Hoodoo I could connect with that part of my ancestry. In Hoodoo a lot of time is spent focused on working with ones ancestors. So for me Hoodoo provides a way for me to connect with my Catholic ancestors while still remaining the witch that I am and that forms the base of the tradition I am developing.
I feel that my connection with my ancestors has started to grow because I have started to work with them in ritual and pray to them daily. I invite them into my life on a regular basis. I know they are around me now. I know that they are there. I just needed to find a way to interact with them all and I have found a way to work with them. Now I just need to make sure I maintain the practice.
Posted on April 6, 2014, in Ancestral worship, Daily rituals, Hoodoo, Pagan Blog Project and tagged Ancestral Veneration, choices, Daily Practice, daily rituals, Hoodoo, Pagan Blog Project, Spiritual development, traditional witchcraft. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.