Category Archives: Spirituality

Book Review: Backwoods Shamanism

Backwoods ShamanismThis book is full of information. At first I wasn’t really sure what to think by the title of the book. The book is titled backwoods Shamanism, and for me most books on shamanism are vastly different from this book. Most books cover spirits of the land, trance work, and some rituals to honor those spirits. This book contains information on working with spirits and some rituals/ways to honor them but it is not your typical book on shamanism.

I’d put this as a mixture of shamanism and hoodoo myself which is what makes the book so unique. The author teaches about working with spirit and how we need to focus on the physical and the spiritual to heal and have holistic lives. Yet his approach to shamanism and shamanic work is not the familiar Native American style. Its more reminiscent of the African traditions which is due to the Hoodoo practices.

This book comes in three primary sections with five different appendix resources. Each section including the appendix actually deals with a specific and unique area of Hoodo/conjure work. This set up makes the book ideal as a reference for a beginner to the craft and spiritual practice that is Hoodoo.

The first section of the book is all about the history and basics of Hoodoo. One thing I like is how the author approached Hoodoo themselves. In many books you get the feeling that unless you were either raised in the south or are African American you can’t practice Hoodoo. He takes a slightly different approach to this view.

The author makes it clear this it is a specific culture or way of life that makes Hoodoo what it is. He makes it clear that if you can respect the origins and the culture that created Hoodoo you can practice it.

The author spends some time talking about the view of God in Hoodoo. He makes it clear that while Hoodoo is not a religion, a relationship with God and some spirits is essential. The view of God the author expresses is not a conventional view either which further shows that Hoodoo is not a religion but a holistic craft that deals with the spirit and the body together.

For those who are new to magic in general the author includes a basic idea about how magic works. He describes the process of working magic known as sympathetic magic or imitative magic.. This is also part of the authors explanation on how and why you will see things like hair, nails, shed skin and much more in Hoodoo workings.

The last bit of information in the foundation of the book is on ancestral veneration. Working with ancestral spirits is one of the key components that make Hoodoo what it is. The author includes the reasons for working with our ancestors as well as how we can work with them and instructions for setting up an ancestral altar.

The second section of the book is one I wish the author had spent more time with. This is the section on home remedies and folk medicine. A major component of Hoodoo is the medicinal work with herbs and treatments. It is here that the author gives information on the medicinal practices in Hoodoo.

Rootdoctors are one of the many names associated with hoodoo practitioners. This is because many rootworkers were also the neighborhood healers. They were the ones with the knowledge of what herbs could be used for healing what ailment. In the areas where Hoodoo was formed there was little to no money to go see a city doctor unless it was a major problem. So they relied on the local Root Doctors.

This section though is a bit too small. While there are instructions on the different medical terms for herbal mixtures and how they are used there are only a small handful of remedies available. The definitions of the types of remedies and the information on the doctrine of signatures is very useful.

The remedies offered include a cough syrup, flu relief, sleep aid, and a general salve. So while there are only a few remedies these are simple and are enough to start a newbie working on holistic medicine for themselves and their family. They are a starting point, and we all need someplace to start from.

Now we get to where the real meat of the work is. The third section in the book is all about the magical practice. The author titles this section Conjure. This section is full of spells, rituals, workings, and many other useful bits of information. This is why many people will buy the book.

The author starts off by going over the importance of performing divination before doing any sort of working. It is a part of the Hoodoo traditions. These readings not only tell you if work needs to be done but also what sort of work needs to be done to correct the situation you are in. The author covers bone reading and playing card reading and gives instructions on how to work with and use both of them.

The author covers mirror work, making a scrying mirror & scrying, container spells, a few bottle and jar spells, poppet, baths, and more. The author provides detailed instructions on how to perform each spell and how they will work.Something I had never heard of before were wish boxes. With the information provided by the author I may just make one myself.

The last section of the book before we get to the appendices and resources is a section on related traditions. Here the author provides what information he can on traditions that are related to Hoodoo or have similar practices. The author includes this information as he believe that there is something about Hoodoo that is attracting more and more people and that these related traditions may have connections to our own ancestral paths or have something that Hoodoo doesn’t and we need in our practice.

The book serves as an excellent primer on Hoodoo and provides a little bit of everything you need to get started in the practice of Hoodoo.

Book Review: The Wiccan Wellness Book

Wiccan Wellness Book

The Wiccan Wellness book is one of a kind. If you are looking just for spells and rituals for healing then this book is not for you. If you are looking for herbal remedies and solutions to your health issues this is not the book for you. If you are looking for ways to increase your health in all areas mental,physical, and spiritual this book is perfect for you. While the author comes from a Wiccan perspective the book is geared towards any and all philosophies or religious views. The goal of the book is to provide simple tools to allow a person to have optimum health in the mind, the body, and the spirit.

Right now my biggest complaint is that the book seemed to be too short and was missing a conclusion. I felt like the final chapter just left us hanging for more. I wasn’t thinking another chapter, even though another chapter would have been useful but maybe a final word or two to tie everything we had read about in the book together. It just ended with no real tie to put it all together.

The rest of the book is great. There is excellent material in here. Several of the tips in one chapter have already made a huge difference in the way I approach my day to day tasks and my day job at the local CVS. It may be small but there is alot of information packed into this one book.

The book begins with an introduction. Here the author covers both her reasons for writing the book and how she connected her spiritual path with health, healing, and wellness. It is also here that we learn that the author wrote this book not just focusing on Wiccans but having it be open to any one open to holistic natural healing and natural spirituality.

The first chapter really sets the tone for the book. This is where the real concept of holistic person is. Right of the bat the book hits you with the biggest concept of all: Thou Art God and Thou Art Goddess. This is part of the concept core to the book. The belief that we have an inner divine spark and we can control how we heal and live. This is also how we learn we can serve the Gods we work with through our daily lives by honoring that divine spark within you.

The author gives us a few questions to think about right off the bat like how we react to stress and what sorts of foods are we eating in our diet. She asks us to take a look at how we stand and what our relationship with our body and the world really is at this point in our lives. After this the author discusses the Wiccan Rede and how it can be a part of healing the world around you and yourself. The chapter ends with a definition of what the path to health really entails.

The second chapter is one that you don’t find in a lot of health books. This is a chapter on using writing or more specifically journaling as a healing tool for the mind, body, and spirit. I’ll be honest. I originally laughed at the chapter concept having done some health journals before I wasn’t convinced that it deserved to be in a book on wellness and healing.

After reading through the exercises I can see how it works in this context. This journal is more than a healing journal. It is a connection to your mind, your body, and your spirit. I found the spirit letter to be the most useful of the exercises in that section of the book. It is something I am going to start including in my practice. There are other exercises in this section that may be useful to others. Some I have tried and some I have not. I do advise at least trying the daily journal exercise if nothing else.

The exercise chapter is the third chapter in this book. The author gives us right off the bat an exercise to do in order to deal with the excuses people seem to come up with for not exercising. This was something I found useful as I know I am guilty of coming up with excuses not to do exercise.

The second part of the chapter goes over several types of exercises that can be done. Some at home with DVD’s and minimal or no tools and others with joining classes or going to the gym. Two of the exercises she mentions I have to support which are the martial arts and yoga both of which have spiritual traditions behind them in many cases, which means you can exercise your body, your mind through awareness, and your spirit all together.

Chapter four is the one that I got the most about. This is a chapter about healthy surroundings. This chapter covers a technique/style that is often used called Feng Shui. That was something I expected. What I didn’t expect was a detailed section on bringing joy, happiness and well being into a day job like working for CVS.

The section on bringing well-being into my day to day job was wonderful. The author mentioned two things that I took to heart and am now trying to do in work. Each of these items was a simple task that doesn’t take much time. Together they provide a powerful spiritual and emotional exercise for day to day life.

The first is dedicate one single task during the work day to service of the Gods. The other is find one thing positive about your job (not thinking about paychecks, but other aspects like something you enjoy about your job). For me when I realized why I enjoyed my job at CVS was because I get to help people I was able to find much more enjoyment out of my shifts and it feels much more productive while I work. I have not done a task with the Gods in mind yet but I am going to try to do that during my next shift.

The fifth chapter is one that I found very useful. This was the section on versions of natural healthcare and health alternatives. Here the author covers several methods of health services some that we can practice ourselves with little or no formal training and others that require certifications and or licenses. The best part of this chapter was that is covers some traditional methods like acupuncture and herbalism but also covered Reiki and Polarity therapy. With each section of type of natural health care the author provides a resource so that you can find a practitioner in your area!

My favorite sections of the book though are the last two chapters. Chapter six is all about finding an herbal spirit partner to do healing work with. For me this gave me several ideas on ways I can connect to herbs I use in healing oils, incense, and tinctures better. For anyone interested in working with plants as magical and spiritual aids this chapter is really for you.

The final chapter is a chapter on several different healing rituals. This is where the religious/and spiritual connection really fits into the book. Most of these rituals have a Wiccan flair to them as the author is Wiccan herself. However if you don’t follow Wicca but work with other Gods or No Gods you can still work many of these rituals with minor alterations.

In the end the best thing I can say about this book is not only does the author have an extensive bibliography she also added a book or two at the end of each chapter for the material in that chapter. This is where I am most impressed as there were minimal Wicca/Witchcraft books referenced and many healing and health or spiritual journals and books listed showing that author really did take a wide approach to spirituality, healing, and the connections that exist there.

Reading Progress
04/28 marked as: read

Post a comment »
Comments

No comments have been added yet.
Email me when people comment

comment
add book/author (some html is ok)

Daily Cleansing Ritual and Spell

Daily Cleansing Ritual

This is a simple spell that I use every day to cleanse and remove negativity from the day before. This spell was written at a time when I was really depressed and staying in a mental health hospital. I needed something to help me feel charged and clean each day mentally and spiritually as well as physically. I still use this spell to this day to start my day and have me feeling good about the day.

Materials:
Soap
Shampoo
Conditioner
Washcloth

Spell:

If you feel the need cast a circle in the shower or bath. The elements are present (air-steam, fire-source of hot water, earth-soap, water-water you wash with) so they will be there. If you don’t feel the need you don’t have to cast a circle. Just step into the shower with the intent to be cleansed of all negativity and blocks from the previous day.

Turn the water to as hot as you can stand.

Shampoo your hair and rinse it out.

Add in the conditioner.

Take the soap and make the wash cloth full of suds and lather.

Begin to lather yourself up. As you lather your body see the soap bubbling gray and the negativity and all issues coming from within into the bubbles. See them flowing down your body and down the drain in a gray mess.

As you lather state:
“water water wash away
Water water cleanse today”

Repeat this over and over again till you feel that you have been cleansed and all negativity has started to flow down the drain.

Then step back under the shower and let the suds be rinsed off.

State:
“By the earth in the soap I am cleansed and clean
By the air in the steam I am cleansed and clean
By the fire which heats the water I am cleansed and clean
and by the water which washes I am cleansed and clean.”

Turn the water to cold (as cold as you can stand for a moment)

State:
“By the power of the elements I am cleansed, clean, and ready to meet the day”.

Let the cold water recharge you for a moment and then step out and dry off.

 

Starting Ancestral work

Starting Ancestral Work

Introduction:

What is Ancestral Veneration and Ancestral Work

Ancestral Veneration is one of the most ancient religious and spiritual practices. The respect and belief in an afterlife as well as honoring ancestors can be traced back to paleolithic mankind. It is believed that honoring our ancestors was the first religious and spiritual form of ritual work. From ways the dead were buried to views of the afterlife ancestors and the dead were never far from the mind of our paleolithic ancestors, and for some this truth remains today.

Ancestral veneration is not worshiping our ancestors, at least not in the common sense of worship. Ancestral veneration is more like honoring the dead in a respectful way. Its a belief that they are still with us in a spirit form. That they can hear us and can effect our lives from the other side. Its a belief that our ancestors like other spirits can help us become the best person we can be and to live the life that we really want and desire.

There are exchanges of offerings and gifts. This isn’t worship. In some ways I think of it like when I put a flower on my ancestors grave. Its giving something to them to signify that you remember them and care for them. These gifts can be basically anything. Though some cultures do have rules against some items being given to different spirits.
In some cultures flowers are only for the dead and it’s ok to leave offerings to the dead till they rot as this signifies they have taken everything. In other cultures and practices only water is offered to the dead. Even Christianity has mention of the value of prayer for the dead. Working with and honoring our ancestors is a powerful spiritual path and there are many ways to go about it.

The act of the gift and the offering is the important thing though. Its through these exchanges that relationships with our ancestors can develop and grow. Its believed that a gift will ensure a gift. Its also believed that because the dead and our ancestors are beyond the veil they have access to energy and powers of the universe that we don’t so by asking them to help us in our work and our lives they can tap into those energies for us. Granted they dont help us unless we help ourselves. So the gifts symbolize our part to do our work.

Many religions and traditions have celebrations and days of the dead. Halloween, All saints and All Souls day, Samhain, Dia de los Muertos(Mexican Day of the dead), The Bon Festival (Japan), and Pitru Paksha (Fortnight of the Ancestors-Hindu) are different festivals in different cultures. They have one thing in common. They are all festivals to honor the dead and the ancestors. These are only a handful of celebrations that exist to celebrate ancestors and the dead. The point is that the concept of honoring the dead is still alive and well in this world today.

The practice of honoring the dead is starting to become more common in Pagan practices today as well. Part of that is that many of us are reclaiming this practice. It was a part of ancient pagan traditions, so the practice was largely destroyed in the west. For many reclaiming ancestral veneration as a part of our practice not only connects us to our more recent ancestors and keeps our passed loved ones in our lives, but it also allows us to reach the deepest ancestors we have which can be powerful guides for those starting down pagan paths.

Personal Development of Ancestor work

One of the reasons I am writing this post today is in honor of a new ancestor. A loved one of mine has just crossed the veil. It is this passing that has once again made me think about working with my ancestors and how is really always been a central part of my practice. I haven’t always considered the contact with my ancestors and the shrines to my past loved ones ancestral veneration. I thought it was simply remembering them and keeping them alive.

Ancestor veneration is a large part of my practice and spiritual work. My ancestors have a lot to teach me. I have an ancestor altar that I pray at everyday. While it is a strong part of my practice these days, ancestral veneration and honoring has not always been a large part of my path. In fact it was at one point something I really only did on the festival of the dead (Samhain) as that was the focus. I thought that was really all that was needed, and at the time maybe that was for my best.

When I started to practice witchcraft I had recently lost my Grandmother. Many of the psychics and readings I had done at the time confirmed that she was staying close to me as a spirit guide (I was having dreams of her). So I started working with my ancestors through a single ancestor as a spirit guide. That was 17 years ago. Now I have an altar to all my ancestors as I have learned that any of our ancestors can be our guides and guardians.

Originally I didn’t offer any prayers, or much to my ancestors. I would simply say hello to them when I needed to feel their presence. I had a place of memory for them where I could see them and keep them in my life. Then when I started to explore traditional witchcraft as a religious and spiritual practice I heard of the concept of giving them offerings and having shrines and altars to them. So I created one and started an ancestral prayer working.

The practice with ancestral veneration got even deeper when I started to explore Germanic paganism and found I had Germanic ancestry. When I read how they honored their ancestors and the powers of wyrd and Oorlog I decided that I had to develop my relationship even further. So I started to work them into Germanic rites and rituals through the phrases “The Alfar and the Disir”

There was a time when I stopped practicing basically everything. Then I started to explore Hoodoo. My interest and desires to understand magic and witchcraft returned. Through this I found more focus on ancestors and honoring your culture. I found that ancestors will be powerful allies in spells as well as in meditations and trance work. So through Hoodoo my work with my ancestors started to develop further and I learned new prayers to use for my ancestors.

Now today I have a prayer I say to them every morning and I have a prayer I say every evening to my ancestors. I give them offerings when I perform rituals and I invite them into my ritual circles. They have a part of my day to day life and my spiritual life. I couldn’t imagine my spiritual work without my ancestors at all. They are always there for me and they always will be. I may not be able to physically hold them and see them, but when I need them I can feel them and I know they are always there for me.

The types of ancestors:

Being adopted my ancestors actually come in different forms and types. Not all of my ancestors are of the blood. Some are of the spirit and some are of the heart. I have legal blood ancestors and blood ancestors. I have ancestors in all of my families that I don’t know but are my allies through the bonds of the heart and the spirit. I even have ancestors that are not really in my family at all but are in my spiritual family. All of these ancestors have roles to play in my life and I honor them all.

I dont consider ancestors limited to just the blood and the heart though.This post is going to discuss the different ancestors I have through my adoption and my spiritual practices and how I can honor and work with each of them. For the longest time I didn’t engage in ancestral veneration because of my adoption. I wasn’t sure if I should honor my ancestors of my adoption, my foster family, or my biological family. Thinking about this also was painful so while I wanted to honor my ancestors I didn’t go about it until I had answered my confusion.
How I came to see the types of Ancestors

That was how I came to see the different ancestral lines. One year I went to the local Pagan Pride day. I typically attend a few of the workshops that go on. This year there was one about ancestral work and contacting your ancestors. The key component of that workshop was a meditation on ancestral lines. During this meditation I saw three lines of ancestral blood flowing from my body. There was a fourth that was some what gray at the time and today its now clear.

It was then I knew that I was to honor all of my ancestors. Those of my foster family, my blood or biological family, and my adoptive family. It was through this work that I came to see that there are many different types of ancestors and that not everyone will have access to blood ancestors. Through these meditations and concepts I came to see that there are
four primary types of ancestral allies: You have your ancestors of the Blood, your ancestors of the heart, and the ancestors of the spirit. Adoptive ancestors are actually a mixture of two types which I will get into in the next sections as well as being their own type of ancestor.

Ancestors of The Blood

Every one is familiar with the concept of blood ancestors. These are those of your family or blood line that goes back generations. These are the strongest allies that one can have. These are the ancestors that everyone thinks about when they think of ancestors. Ancestors of the blood also include ancestors gained through marriage and long term committed relationships. When I got engaged to my fiance his ancestors joined mine and mine his. We are a family unit. These ancestors go back generations on each side. So the lines of blood ancestors are very long.

These are the strongest allies that you can have as a spirit. They are the ones that have your best interest at heart. Through the strands of Fate, and the workings of Wyrd we are always directly connected to our ancestors. Our actions reflect them as much as their actions reflect on us. So we need to honor them in our lives and we need to keep them close to us. Before any other spirit is petitioned the ancestors will work stronger for you and faster for you. There is little that is stronger than the power of the blood.

Adoptive Ancestors

For me I also have my adoptive ancestors, These are the ancestors of my adoptive family. They are the family that raised me and that belongs to me. In ancient cultures at times the roles of the blood ancestors would be replaced by the foster and or adoptive family. In my case I never considered them to replace the blood ancestors at all. I considered them additional ancestors that I was blessed to have.

We have no physical blood that ties us. However to all of the world and all legal meanings they are my flesh and blood. That is how I feel about them as well. In all honesty at times they are more my family than my blood and biological family simply because I have minimal contact and my relationship with that family is in its infancy (until recently was non existent). Which is why they are both ancestors of the blood and of the heart. The time that they spent raising me and being involved in my life can not be undone.

They gave their blood, sweat, and tears to me. They are for my my most powerful allies. They have been there for me more than the blood ancestors. They were the first ancestors I have contacted and they were the first ones to make themselves known to me. This is the ancestral line that has been the strongest for me. My blood ancestral work is focused on more ancient pagan ancestor while my adoptive ancestral work is more with Saint and angel work (Hoodoo influences as well).

It is because my adoptive Ancestors gave so much of their blood, sweat, and tears into my life and that they took me in they are also ancestors of the heart. They are of the blood because of the family ties and concepts but of the heart because there is no physical blood. Its a spiritual and memory based blood love. The bond of the heart here shows how even just being in a family for a short while can create strong family bonds.

Ancestors of the Heart

Those of the heart are the family that has passed that are not connected through marriage or blood or even legal adoption. In my case this is where my foster family lies. They did not adopt me but are still my family. I have lost several members of that family and they were all close to me. They are now my ancestors and they watch over me. Our bond is somewhat stronger than blood or law.

These ancestors are some of my more recent ancestors. It was my Uncle Cleve’s passing which made me think about ancestors. He was my foster uncle and is an ancestor of my heart. His two brothers are also my ancestors here. I have a Grandfather here as well. To them and to me the fact that I did not live with them, and was not legally a part of the family after my adoption never mattered. I never stopped being their family. That is what the ancestors of the heart are all about.

The ancestors of the heart are those that have passed on we considered family even if there was no blood between you. These can be friends you thought of as brothers and sisters, close friends and even those who you would consider “father”or “mother” figures. If you feel that they were and are apart of your family in your heart than they are your family and are your ancestors. Never let anyone else tell you any different.

Ancestors of the Spirit:

Finally there are ancestors of the spirit. For me I consider any Occultist, Witch, and Magician who worked hard to preserve the magical and spiritual arts are my spiritual ancestors. Even though I dont agree with all of their teachings and philosophies people like Gerald Gardner, Aliester Crowley, Doreen Valiente, Scott Cunningham, and many others put a lot of work into making magical spirituality acceptable and part of our day to day lives again. Those are a few of my spiritual ancestors as a witch based on the practices I have taken into my practice.

As I explore Hoodoo and other magical systems other spiritual ancestors will come into my practice. For example Marie Laveau is a famous Hoodoo worker in New Orleans. In some respects I could consider her a spiritual ancestor. Other ancestors in the case of Hoodoo would in general be any one who struggled to keep African American spiritual heritage alive through Hoodoo and Rootwork. When a teacher passes I would add them to the spiritual ancestors as well.

You can also have ancestors of the spirit when you are spiritually adopted into a tradition. There are many religions and paths where they are only open to people of a specific culture. Occasionally through the practice of spiritual adoption outsiders are initiated and welcome into that spiritual family. The ancestors of your initiator in these situations become your ancestors and guides as well. It is a spiritual family you have entered into and like all families they will help you and work with you if you honor them as taught.

Working with your ancestors

Now that we have covered the types of ancestors out there and I have mentioned the importance of working with your ancestors its time to actually start thinking about how we can work with them. Why do we work with them, and what the best ways of working with them are.

There are three primary ways aside from meditation and spirit travel work that a person can work with their ancestors. These three forms are the altar, prayers, and offerings. They work well together and serve as a starting point for building power with your ancestral allies. Unless one is experienced in astral travel and spirit communication using those tools right away to work with your ancestors is not the best of ideas. Prayers and altar work are all you really need.

The altar

Really when it comes to working with your ancestors the only real must do I have found is having an altar of some sort where you can offer prayers and other items to them as you get to know them. These altars can evolve and change over time. The point of the altar is to serve as a focal point in your work. The altar is a place for you to offer your prayers and your gifts to them.

Your altar doesn’t need to be fancy. Many people start off not knowing any of their ancestors. In which case a candle, a cup for water, and a plate for offerings is all you would need to contact them. If you know your passed on loved ones and you have photos of them you can and should add those photos to the altar.

The altar also serves as a place of remembrance of the dead. So its a place to put items that make you think of your ancestors as well as their photos. You want it to look nice and appealing. This is going to be their home for you in your house and their place in your life. So its also important to keep the altar neat looking.

Here are some examples of my own ancestral altars and how its changed over time:
Ancestor altar alpha

Ancestor Altar 2

Ancestor altar

As you can see by looking at these altars they have changed over time. As they have changed so has my relationship with my ancestors evolved. The reason I wanted to show you the evolution of the altar is that I want you all to know that you can let your altar change over time. Its not meant to be a static thing! Its meant to be something that evolves with you and with your relationship with the spirits!

There are no limits on your ancestral altar. Let their spirits come through. There are reasons for the symbols I have placed on my altars. They grew as my focus and my relationships grew. One thing has always been common though-the focus has been on remembering them and keeping their memories alive in my life.

Ancestral Prayers

The best way to work with your ancestors even before starting an altar is simply to pray to them. Prayers to your ancestors aren’t really any different than prayers for gods and spirit guides. You are simply having a conversation with your ancestors. Prayers are how we can communicate with them directly and its our best way to communicate with them. They can communicate with us in different ways (dreams, scents, meditations, sudden insights etc) but we can really only speak to them through prayers.

The easiest prayer is simply:
“Blessed Ancestors I welcome you into my life. May you bless and guide me and may you teach me what you yourself can”

That’s all your prayers to your ancestors need to be. You dont need to praise them. You don’t need to have a fancy invocation. You simply can address them as your ancestors and they will listen to you. You dont even really need to ask for a blessing. You could simply say something along the lines of:
“Good Morning Ancestors. I welcome you this day”.

All you are doing with your prayers is acknowledging that they exist and that they are apart of your world. By giving them a simple welcome everyday you will start to feel their presence build up. You will begin to know them and feel them like you do can with other spirits and beings that you work with. The more attention you give them the more you will notice them.

Prayers can be more complex and verbose. My personal prayers evolved from a simple Hello and welcome to a full blessing and daily petition for them to be here. There is a bit of praise and there is a bit of thanks. These prayers are offered twice daily. I feel that they flowed from me into the written form when I was channeling spirits and writing prayers for them. My ancestors let me know what they wanted.

Offerings and Gifts

The final way that we can work with our ancestors is in offerings and gifts. These gifts are ways that we say thank you and show our appreciation to them. There are many ways types of gifts that can be given to our ancestors. You can give your ancestor basically anything you would give yourself or a person. They are still family and they are still people.

For myself I consider flowers on graves a gift to them. I also place flowers on the altars every so often as remembrances of them. I try and give them their favorite flowers. I also try and give them their favorite things. For my grandmother I will think of her when I go bowling and send her some of that energy as play and a memory of our times together.

On holidays I will set aside a portion of the food on my plate for my ancestors. I will let it sit till the end and eat that last. They eat the essence of that portion while I eat my meal. When I have finished the portion for me they will have had their fill and I can take nourishment from the food. Other cultures burn food offerings to ancestors and spirits. Some burry the food in the yard. Other throw it into the woods for animals to eat.

There are some taboos in various cultures about what can and can’t be given to ancestors and the dead. If you belong to a specific culture, religion, and or tradition I suggest that you look into ways that they honor the dead. By honoring the traditions of your culture, your religion and your tradition you are honoring your ancestors in that way as well. These traditions after all were ancestral in many cases.

Conclusion:

This post has covered my own discovery into the importance of ancestral veneration. It has covered the types of ancestors and a few of the ways that we can work with our ancestors. Your ancestors are part of who you are. They are powerful allies that can teach you things you wouldn’t imagine and who can be there for you in ways none else can. Your ancestors are still here in this life and in this world just in a different form.

There are many ways to work with them. Once you start working with them you will find that there are many more ways and reasons to work with them. I’ve been working with my ancestors actively for several years and my relationships with them continue to grow and develop. I am constantly learning new reasons to honor them and new ways of working with them. The more I learn the more I realize there is to learn.

These allies seem to be the ones that develop the most as I develop spiritually. The more I understand spiritual and magical practices the stronger they seem to become and the more things we seem to be able to so together. Its my hope that any one who has read this will start to develop their own relationships with their ancestors and start to find the power and comfort in ancestral grace and guidance.

Ancestral Veneration: What it is, types of ancestors, and working with them

Ancestors:
What Types there are and How to work with them

Introduction:

What is Ancestral Veneration

Ancestral Veneration is one of the most ancient religious and spiritual practices.  The respect and belief in an afterlife as well as honoring ancestors can be traced back to paleolithic mankind.   It is believed that honoring our ancestors was the first religious and spiritual form of ritual work.  From ways the dead were buried to views of the afterlife ancestors and the dead were never far from the mind of our paleolithic ancestors, and for some this truth remains today.

Ancestral veneration is not worshiping our ancestors, at least not in the common sense of worship. Ancestral veneration is more like honoring the dead in a respectful way.  Its a belief that they are still with us in a spirit form.  That they can hear us and can effect our lives from the other side.  Its a belief that our ancestors like other spirits can help us become the best person we can be and to live the life that we really want and desire.

There are exchanges of offerings and gifts.  This isn’t worship.  In some ways I think of it like when I put a flower on my ancestors grave.  Its giving something to them to signify that you remember them and care for them.  These gifts can be basically anything.  Though some cultures do have rules against some items being given to different spirits.
In some cultures flowers are only for the dead and it’s ok to leave offerings to the dead till they rot as this signifies they have taken everything.  In other cultures and practices only water is offered to the dead.   Even Christianity has mention of the value of prayer for the dead.  Working with and honoring our ancestors is a powerful spiritual path and there are many ways to go about it.

The act of the gift and the offering is the important thing though.  Its through these exchanges that relationships with our ancestors can develop and grow.  Its believed that a gift will ensure a gift.  Its also believed that because the dead and our ancestors are beyond the veil they have access to energy and powers of the universe that we don’t so by asking them to help us in our work and our lives they can tap into those energies for us.  Granted they dont help us unless we help ourselves.  So the gifts symbolize our part to do our work.

Many religions and traditions have celebrations and days of the dead.  Halloween, All saints and All Souls day,  Samhain, Dia de los Muertos(Mexican Day of the dead), The Bon Festival (Japan), and Pitru Paksha (Fortnight of the Ancestors-Hindu) are different festivals in different cultures.  They have one thing in common.  They are all festivals to honor the dead and the ancestors.  These are only a handful of celebrations that exist to celebrate ancestors and the dead.  The point is that the concept of honoring the dead is still alive and well in this world today.

The practice of honoring the dead is starting to become more common in Pagan practices today as well.  Part of that is that many of us are reclaiming this practice.  It was a part of ancient pagan traditions, so the practice was largely destroyed in the west.  For many reclaiming ancestral veneration as a part of our practice not only connects us to our more recent ancestors and keeps our passed loved ones in our lives, but it also allows us to reach the deepest ancestors we have which can be powerful guides for those starting down pagan paths.

Personal Development of Ancestor work

One of the reasons I am writing this post today is in honor of a new ancestor.  A loved one of mine has just crossed the veil.  It is this passing that has once again made me think about working with my ancestors and how is really always been a central part of my practice.  I haven’t always considered the contact with my ancestors and the shrines to my past loved ones ancestral veneration.  I thought it was simply remembering them and keeping them alive.

Ancestor veneration is a large part of my practice and spiritual work.  My ancestors have a lot to teach me.   I have an ancestor altar that I pray at everyday. While it is a strong part of my practice these days, ancestral veneration and honoring has not always been a large part of my path.  In fact it was at one point something I really only did on the festival of the dead (Samhain) as that was the focus.  I thought that was really all that was needed, and at the time maybe that was for my best.

When I started to practice witchcraft I had recently lost my Grandmother.  Many of the psychics and readings I had done at the time confirmed that she was staying close to me as a spirit guide (I was having dreams of her).  So I started working with my ancestors through a single ancestor as a spirit guide.  That was 17 years ago.  Now I have an altar to all my ancestors as I have learned that any of our ancestors can be our guides and guardians.

Originally I didn’t offer any prayers, or much to my ancestors.  I would simply say hello to them when I needed to feel their presence.  I had a place of memory for them where I could see them and keep them in my life.  Then when I started to explore traditional witchcraft as a religious and spiritual practice I heard of the concept of giving them offerings and having shrines and altars to them.  So I created one and started an ancestral prayer working.

The practice with ancestral veneration got even deeper when I started to explore Germanic paganism and found I had Germanic ancestry.  When I read how they honored their ancestors and the powers of wyrd and Oorlog I decided that I had to develop my relationship even further.  So I started to work them into Germanic rites and rituals through the phrases “The Alfar and the Disir”

There was a time when I stopped practicing basically everything.  Then I started to explore Hoodoo.  My interest and desires to understand magic and witchcraft returned.  Through this I found more focus on ancestors and honoring your culture.  I found that ancestors will be powerful allies in spells as well as in meditations and trance work.  So through Hoodoo my work with my ancestors started to develop further and I learned new prayers to use for my ancestors.

Now today I have a prayer I say to them every morning and I have a prayer I say every evening to my ancestors.  I give them offerings when I perform rituals and I invite them into my ritual circles.  They have a part of my day to day life and my spiritual life. I couldn’t imagine my spiritual work without my ancestors at all.  They are always there for me and they always will be.  I may not be able to physically hold them and see them, but when I need them I can feel them and I know they are always there for me.

The types of ancestors:

Being adopted my ancestors actually come in different forms and types.  Not all of my ancestors are of the blood.  Some are of the spirit and some are of the heart.  I have legal blood ancestors and blood ancestors.  I have ancestors in all of my families that I don’t know but are my allies through the bonds of the heart and the spirit.  I even have ancestors that are not really in my family at all but are in my spiritual family.  All of these ancestors have roles to play in my life and I honor them all.

I dont consider ancestors limited to just the blood and the heart though.This post is going to discuss the different ancestors I have through my adoption and my spiritual practices and how I can honor and work with each of them.  For the longest time I didn’t engage in ancestral veneration because of my adoption.  I wasn’t sure if I should honor my ancestors of my adoption, my foster family, or my biological family.  Thinking about this also was painful so while I wanted to honor my ancestors I didn’t go about it until I had answered my confusion.

How I came to see the types of Ancestors

That was how I came to see the different ancestral lines.  One year I went to the local Pagan Pride day.  I typically attend a few of the workshops that go on.  This year there was one about ancestral work and contacting your ancestors.  The key component of that workshop was a meditation on ancestral lines.  During this meditation I saw three lines of ancestral blood flowing from my body.  There was a fourth that was some what gray at the time and today its now clear.

It was then I knew that I was to honor all of my ancestors.  Those of my foster family, my blood or biological family, and my adoptive family.  It was through this work that I came to see that there are many different types of ancestors and that not everyone will have access to blood ancestors.  Through these meditations and concepts I came to see that there are
four primary types of ancestral allies: You have your ancestors of the Blood, your ancestors of the heart, and the ancestors of the spirit.  Adoptive ancestors are actually a mixture of two types which I will get into in the next sections as well as being their own type of ancestor.

Ancestors of The Blood

Every one is familiar with the concept of blood ancestors.  These are those of your family or blood line that goes back generations.  These are the strongest allies that one can have.  These are the ancestors that everyone thinks about when they think of ancestors.  Ancestors of the blood also include ancestors gained through marriage and long term committed relationships.  When I got engaged to my fiance his ancestors joined mine and mine his.  We are a family unit.  These ancestors go back generations on each side.  So the lines of blood ancestors are very long.

These are the strongest allies that you can have as a spirit.  They are the ones that have your best interest at heart.  Through the strands of Fate, and the workings of Wyrd we are always directly connected to our ancestors.  Our actions reflect them as much as their actions reflect on us.  So we need to honor them in our lives and we need to keep them close to us.  Before any other spirit is petitioned the ancestors will work stronger for you and faster for you.  There is little that is stronger than the power of the blood.

Adoptive Ancestors

For me I also have my adoptive ancestors,  These are the ancestors of my adoptive family.  They are the family that raised me and that belongs to me.  In ancient cultures at times the roles of the blood ancestors would be replaced by the foster and or adoptive family.  In my case I never considered them to replace the blood ancestors at all.  I considered them additional ancestors that I was blessed to have.

We have no physical blood that ties us.  However to all of the world and all legal meanings they are my flesh and blood.  That is how I feel about them as well.  In all honesty at times they are more my family than my blood and biological family simply because I have minimal contact and my relationship with that family is in its infancy (until recently was non existent).  Which is why they are both ancestors of the blood and of the heart.  The time that they spent raising me and being involved in my life can not be undone.

They gave their blood, sweat, and tears to me.  They are for my my most powerful allies.  They have been there for me more than the blood ancestors.  They were the first ancestors I have contacted and they were the first ones to make themselves known to me.  This is the ancestral line that has been the strongest for me.  My blood ancestral work is focused on more ancient pagan ancestor while my adoptive ancestral work is more with Saint and angel work (Hoodoo influences as well).

It is because my adoptive Ancestors gave so much of their blood, sweat, and tears into my life and that they took me in they are also ancestors of the heart.  They are of the blood because of the family ties and concepts but of the heart because there is no physical blood.  Its a spiritual and memory based blood love.  The bond of the heart here shows how even just being in a family for a short while can create strong family bonds.

Ancestors of the Heart

Those of the heart are the family that has passed that are not connected through marriage or blood or even legal adoption.  In my case this is where my foster family lies.  They did not adopt me but are still my family.  I have lost several members of that family and they were all close to me.  They are now my ancestors and they watch over me.  Our bond is somewhat stronger than blood or law.

These ancestors are some of my more recent ancestors.  It was my Uncle Cleve’s passing which made me think about ancestors.  He was my foster uncle and is an ancestor of my heart.  His two brothers are also my ancestors here.  I have a Grandfather here as well.  To them and to me the fact that I did not live with them, and was not legally a part of the family after my adoption never mattered.  I never stopped being their family.  That is what the ancestors of the heart are all about.

The ancestors of the heart are those that have passed on we considered family even if there was no blood between you.  These can be friends you thought of as brothers and sisters, close friends and even those who you would consider “father”or “mother” figures.  If you feel that they were and are apart of your family in your heart than they are your family and are your ancestors.  Never let anyone else tell you any different.

Ancestors of the Spirit:

Finally there are ancestors of the spirit. For me I consider any Occultist, Witch, and Magician who worked hard to preserve the magical and spiritual arts are my spiritual ancestors.  Even though I dont agree with all of their teachings and philosophies people like Gerald Gardner, Aliester Crowley, Doreen Valiente, Scott Cunningham, and many others put a lot of work into making magical spirituality acceptable and part of our day to day lives again.  Those are a few of my spiritual ancestors as a witch based on the practices I have taken into my practice.

As I explore Hoodoo and other magical systems other spiritual ancestors will come into my practice.  For example Marie Laveau is a famous Hoodoo worker in New Orleans.  In some respects I could consider her a spiritual ancestor.  Other ancestors in the case of Hoodoo would in general be any one who struggled to keep African American spiritual heritage alive through Hoodoo and Rootwork.  When a teacher passes I would add them to the spiritual ancestors as well.

You can also have ancestors of the spirit when you are spiritually adopted into a tradition.  There are many religions and paths where they are only open to people of a specific culture.  Occasionally through the practice of spiritual adoption outsiders are initiated and welcome into that spiritual family.  The ancestors of your initiator in these situations become your ancestors and guides as well.  It is a spiritual family you have entered into and like all families they will help you and work with you if you honor them as taught.

 

Working with your ancestors

Now that we have covered the types of ancestors out there and I have mentioned the importance of working with your ancestors its time to actually start thinking about how we can work with them.  Why do we work with them, and what the best ways of working with them are.

There are two primary ways aside from meditation and spirit travel work that a person can work with their ancestors.  These two forms are the altar and prayers.  They work well together and serve as a starting point for building power with your ancestral allies.  Unless one is experienced in astral travel and spirit communication using those tools right away to work with your ancestors is not the best of ideas.  Prayers and altar work are all you really need.

The altar

Really when it comes to working with your ancestors the only real must do I have found is having an altar of some sort where you can offer prayers and other items to them as you get to know them.  These altars can evolve and change over time. The point of the altar is to serve as a focal point in your work.  The altar is a place for you to offer your prayers and your gifts to them.

Your altar doesn’t need to be fancy.  Many people start off not knowing any of their ancestors. In which case a candle, a cup for water, and a plate for offerings is all you would need to contact them.  If you know your passed on loved ones and you have photos of them you can and should add those photos to the altar.

The altar also serves as a place of remembrance of the dead.  So its a place to put items that make you think of your ancestors as well as their photos.  You want it to look nice and appealing.  This is going to be their home for you in your house and their place in your life.  So its also important to keep the altar neat looking.

Here are some examples of my own ancestral altars and how its changed over time:

First ancestral altar

First ancestral altar

Second Ancestral Altar

Second Ancestral Altar

Ancestor Altar 3

As you can see by looking at these altars they have changed over time.  As they have changed so has my relationship with my ancestors evolved.  The reason I wanted to show you the evolution of the altar is that I want you all to know that you can let your altar change over time. Its not meant to be a static thing!  Its meant to be something that evolves with you and with your relationship with the spirits!

There are no limits on your ancestral altar.  Let their spirits come through.  There are reasons for the symbols I have placed on my altars.  They grew as my focus and my relationships grew.  One thing has always been common though-the focus has been on remembering them and keeping their memories alive in my life.

 

Ancestral Prayers

The best way to work with your ancestors even before starting an altar is simply to pray to them.  Prayers to your ancestors aren’t really any different than prayers for gods and spirit guides.  You are simply having a conversation with your ancestors.  Prayers are how we can communicate with them directly and its our best way to communicate with them.  They can communicate with us in different ways (dreams, scents, meditations, sudden insights etc) but we can really only speak to them through prayers.

The easiest prayer is simply:
“Blessed Ancestors I welcome you into my life.  May you bless and guide me and may you teach me what you yourself can”

That’s all your prayers to your ancestors need to be.  You dont need to praise them.  You don’t need to have a fancy invocation.  You simply can address them as your ancestors and they will listen to you.  You dont even really need to ask for a blessing.  You could simply say something along the lines of:
“Good Morning Ancestors.  I welcome you this day”.

All you are doing with your prayers is acknowledging that they exist and that they are apart of your world.  By giving them a simple welcome everyday you will start to feel their presence build up.  You will begin to know them and feel them like you do can with other spirits and beings that you work with.  The more attention you give them the more you will notice them.

Prayers can be more complex and verbose.  My personal prayers evolved from a simple Hello and welcome to a full blessing and daily petition for them to be here.  There is a bit of praise and there is a bit of thanks.  These prayers are offered twice daily.  I feel that they flowed from me into the written form when I was channeling spirits and writing prayers for them.  My ancestors let me know what they wanted.

Offerings and Gifts

The final way that we can work with our ancestors is in offerings and gifts.  These gifts are ways that we say thank you and show our appreciation to them.  There are many ways types of gifts that can be given to our ancestors.   You can give your ancestor basically anything you would give yourself or a person.  They are still family and they are still people.

For myself I consider flowers on graves a gift to them.  I also place flowers on the altars every so often as remembrances of them.  I try and give them their favorite flowers.  I also try and give them their favorite things.  For my grandmother I will think of her when I go bowling and send her some of that energy as play and a memory of our times together.

On holidays I will set aside a portion of the food on my plate for my ancestors.  I will let it sit till the end and eat that last.  They eat the essence of that portion while I eat my meal.  When I have finished the portion for me they will have had their fill and I can take nourishment from the food.  Other cultures burn food offerings to ancestors and spirits.  Some burry the food in the yard.  Other throw it into the woods for animals to eat.

There are some taboos in various cultures about what can and can’t be given to ancestors and the dead.  If you belong to a specific culture, religion, and or tradition I suggest that you look into ways that they honor the dead.  By honoring the traditions of your culture, your religion and your tradition you are honoring your ancestors in that way as well.  These traditions after all were ancestral in many cases.

Conclusion:

This post has covered my own discovery into the importance of ancestral veneration.  It has covered the types of ancestors and a few of the ways that we can work with our ancestors.  Your ancestors are part of who you are.  They are powerful allies that can teach you things you wouldn’t imagine and who can be there for you in ways none else can.  Your ancestors are still here in this life and in this world just in a different form.

There are many ways to work with them.  Once you start working with them you will find that there are many more ways and reasons to work with them.  I’ve been working with my ancestors actively for several years and my relationships with them continue to grow and develop.  I am constantly learning new reasons to honor them and new ways of working with them.  The more I learn the more I realize there is to learn.

These allies seem to be the ones that develop the most as I develop spiritually.  The more I understand spiritual and magical practices the stronger they seem to become and the more things we seem to be able to so together.  Its my hope that any one who has read this will start to develop their own relationships with their ancestors and start to find the power and comfort in ancestral grace and guidance.

 

Ancestral Veneration

Ancestors:
What Types there are and How to work with them
Introduction:
What is Ancestral Veneration

Ancestral Veneration is one of the most ancient religious and spiritual practices. The respect and belief in an afterlife as well as honoring ancestors can be traced back to paleolithic mankind. It is believed that honoring our ancestors was the first religious and spiritual form of ritual work. From ways the dead were buried to views of the afterlife ancestors and the dead were never far from the mind of our paleolithic ancestors, and for some this truth remains today.

Ancestral veneration is not worshiping our ancestors, at least not in the common sense of worship. Ancestral veneration is more like honoring the dead in a respectful way. Its a belief that they are still with us in a spirit form. That they can hear us and can effect our lives from the other side. Its a belief that our ancestors like other spirits can help us become the best person we can be and to live the life that we really want and desire.

There are exchanges of offerings and gifts. This isn’t worship. In some ways I think of it like when I put a flower on my ancestors grave. Its giving something to them to signify that you remember them and care for them. These gifts can be basically anything. Though some cultures do have rules against some items being given to different spirits.
In some cultures flowers are only for the dead and it’s ok to leave offerings to the dead till they rot as this signifies they have taken everything. In other cultures and practices only water is offered to the dead. Even Christianity has mention of the value of prayer for the dead. Working with and honoring our ancestors is a powerful spiritual path and there are many ways to go about it.

The act of the gift and the offering is the important thing though. Its through these exchanges that relationships with our ancestors can develop and grow. Its believed that a gift will ensure a gift. Its also believed that because the dead and our ancestors are beyond the veil they have access to energy and powers of the universe that we don’t so by asking them to help us in our work and our lives they can tap into those energies for us. Granted they dont help us unless we help ourselves. So the gifts symbolize our part to do our work.

Many religions and traditions have celebrations and days of the dead. Halloween, All saints and All Souls day, Samhain, Dia de los Muertos(Mexican Day of the dead), The Bon Festival (Japan), and Pitru Paksha (Fortnight of the Ancestors-Hindu) are different festivals in different cultures. They have one thing in common. They are all festivals to honor the dead and the ancestors. These are only a handful of celebrations that exist to celebrate ancestors and the dead. The point is that the concept of honoring the dead is still alive and well in this world today.

The practice of honoring the dead is starting to become more common in Pagan practices today as well. Part of that is that many of us are reclaiming this practice. It was a part of ancient pagan traditions, so the practice was largely destroyed in the west. For many reclaiming ancestral veneration as a part of our practice not only connects us to our more recent ancestors and keeps our passed loved ones in our lives, but it also allows us to reach the deepest ancestors we have which can be powerful guides for those starting down pagan paths.
Personal Development of Ancestor work

One of the reasons I am writing this post today is in honor of a new ancestor. A loved one of mine has just crossed the veil. It is this passing that has once again made me think about working with my ancestors and how is really always been a central part of my practice. I haven’t always considered the contact with my ancestors and the shrines to my past loved ones ancestral veneration. I thought it was simply remembering them and keeping them alive.

Ancestor veneration is a large part of my practice and spiritual work. My ancestors have a lot to teach me. I have an ancestor altar that I pray at everyday. While it is a strong part of my practice these days, ancestral veneration and honoring has not always been a large part of my path. In fact it was at one point something I really only did on the festival of the dead (Samhain) as that was the focus. I thought that was really all that was needed, and at the time maybe that was for my best.

When I started to practice witchcraft I had recently lost my Grandmother. Many of the psychics and readings I had done at the time confirmed that she was staying close to me as a spirit guide (I was having dreams of her). So I started working with my ancestors through a single ancestor as a spirit guide. That was 17 years ago. Now I have an altar to all my ancestors as I have learned that any of our ancestors can be our guides and guardians.

Originally I didn’t offer any prayers, or much to my ancestors. I would simply say hello to them when I needed to feel their presence. I had a place of memory for them where I could see them and keep them in my life. Then when I started to explore traditional witchcraft as a religious and spiritual practice I heard of the concept of giving them offerings and having shrines and altars to them. So I created one and started an ancestral prayer working.

The practice with ancestral veneration got even deeper when I started to explore Germanic paganism and found I had Germanic ancestry. When I read how they honored their ancestors and the powers of wyrd and Oorlog I decided that I had to develop my relationship even further. So I started to work them into Germanic rites and rituals through the phrases “The Alfar and the Disir”

There was a time when I stopped practicing basically everything. Then I started to explore Hoodoo. My interest and desires to understand magic and witchcraft returned. Through this I found more focus on ancestors and honoring your culture. I found that ancestors will be powerful allies in spells as well as in meditations and trance work. So through Hoodoo my work with my ancestors started to develop further and I learned new prayers to use for my ancestors.

Now today I have a prayer I say to them every morning and I have a prayer I say every evening to my ancestors. I give them offerings when I perform rituals and I invite them into my ritual circles. They have a part of my day to day life and my spiritual life. I couldn’t imagine my spiritual work without my ancestors at all. They are always there for me and they always will be. I may not be able to physically hold them and see them, but when I need them I can feel them and I know they are always there for me.
The types of ancestors:

Being adopted my ancestors actually come in different forms and types. Not all of my ancestors are of the blood. Some are of the spirit and some are of the heart. I have legal blood ancestors and blood ancestors. I have ancestors in all of my families that I don’t know but are my allies through the bonds of the heart and the spirit. I even have ancestors that are not really in my family at all but are in my spiritual family. All of these ancestors have roles to play in my life and I honor them all.

I dont consider ancestors limited to just the blood and the heart though.This post is going to discuss the different ancestors I have through my adoption and my spiritual practices and how I can honor and work with each of them. For the longest time I didn’t engage in ancestral veneration because of my adoption. I wasn’t sure if I should honor my ancestors of my adoption, my foster family, or my biological family. Thinking about this also was painful so while I wanted to honor my ancestors I didn’t go about it until I had answered my confusion.
How I came to see the types of Ancestors

That was how I came to see the different ancestral lines. One year I went to the local Pagan Pride day. I typically attend a few of the workshops that go on. This year there was one about ancestral work and contacting your ancestors. The key component of that workshop was a meditation on ancestral lines. During this meditation I saw three lines of ancestral blood flowing from my body. There was a fourth that was some what gray at the time and today its now clear.

It was then I knew that I was to honor all of my ancestors. Those of my foster family, my blood or biological family, and my adoptive family. It was through this work that I came to see that there are many different types of ancestors and that not everyone will have access to blood ancestors. Through these meditations and concepts I came to see that there are
four primary types of ancestral allies: You have your ancestors of the Blood, your ancestors of the heart, and the ancestors of the spirit. Adoptive ancestors are actually a mixture of two types which I will get into in the next sections as well as being their own type of ancestor.
Ancestors of The Blood

Every one is familiar with the concept of blood ancestors. These are those of your family or blood line that goes back generations. These are the strongest allies that one can have. These are the ancestors that everyone thinks about when they think of ancestors. Ancestors of the blood also include ancestors gained through marriage and long term committed relationships. When I got engaged to my fiance his ancestors joined mine and mine his. We are a family unit. These ancestors go back generations on each side. So the lines of blood ancestors are very long.

These are the strongest allies that you can have as a spirit. They are the ones that have your best interest at heart. Through the strands of Fate, and the workings of Wyrd we are always directly connected to our ancestors. Our actions reflect them as much as their actions reflect on us. So we need to honor them in our lives and we need to keep them close to us. Before any other spirit is petitioned the ancestors will work stronger for you and faster for you. There is little that is stronger than the power of the blood.
Adoptive Ancestors

For me I also have my adoptive ancestors, These are the ancestors of my adoptive family. They are the family that raised me and that belongs to me. In ancient cultures at times the roles of the blood ancestors would be replaced by the foster and or adoptive family. In my case I never considered them to replace the blood ancestors at all. I considered them additional ancestors that I was blessed to have.

We have no physical blood that ties us. However to all of the world and all legal meanings they are my flesh and blood. That is how I feel about them as well. In all honesty at times they are more my family than my blood and biological family simply because I have minimal contact and my relationship with that family is in its infancy (until recently was non existent). Which is why they are both ancestors of the blood and of the heart. The time that they spent raising me and being involved in my life can not be undone.

They gave their blood, sweat, and tears to me. They are for my my most powerful allies. They have been there for me more than the blood ancestors. They were the first ancestors I have contacted and they were the first ones to make themselves known to me. This is the ancestral line that has been the strongest for me. My blood ancestral work is focused on more ancient pagan ancestor while my adoptive ancestral work is more with Saint and angel work (Hoodoo influences as well).

It is because my adoptive Ancestors gave so much of their blood, sweat, and tears into my life and that they took me in they are also ancestors of the heart. They are of the blood because of the family ties and concepts but of the heart because there is no physical blood. Its a spiritual and memory based blood love. The bond of the heart here shows how even just being in a family for a short while can create strong family bonds.
Ancestors of the Heart

Those of the heart are the family that has passed that are not connected through marriage or blood or even legal adoption. In my case this is where my foster family lies. They did not adopt me but are still my family. I have lost several members of that family and they were all close to me. They are now my ancestors and they watch over me. Our bond is somewhat stronger than blood or law.

These ancestors are some of my more recent ancestors. It was my Uncle Cleve’s passing which made me think about ancestors. He was my foster uncle and is an ancestor of my heart. His two brothers are also my ancestors here. I have a Grandfather here as well. To them and to me the fact that I did not live with them, and was not legally a part of the family after my adoption never mattered. I never stopped being their family. That is what the ancestors of the heart are all about.

The ancestors of the heart are those that have passed on we considered family even if there was no blood between you. These can be friends you thought of as brothers and sisters, close friends and even those who you would consider “father”or “mother” figures. If you feel that they were and are apart of your family in your heart than they are your family and are your ancestors. Never let anyone else tell you any different.
Ancestors of the Spirit:

Finally there are ancestors of the spirit. For me I consider any Occultist, Witch, and Magician who worked hard to preserve the magical and spiritual arts are my spiritual ancestors. Even though I dont agree with all of their teachings and philosophies people like Gerald Gardner, Aliester Crowley, Doreen Valiente, Scott Cunningham, and many others put a lot of work into making magical spirituality acceptable and part of our day to day lives again. Those are a few of my spiritual ancestors as a witch based on the practices I have taken into my practice.

As I explore Hoodoo and other magical systems other spiritual ancestors will come into my practice. For example Marie Laveau is a famous Hoodoo worker in New Orleans. In some respects I could consider her a spiritual ancestor. Other ancestors in the case of Hoodoo would in general be any one who struggled to keep African American spiritual heritage alive through Hoodoo and Rootwork. When a teacher passes I would add them to the spiritual ancestors as well.

You can also have ancestors of the spirit when you are spiritually adopted into a tradition. There are many religions and paths where they are only open to people of a specific culture. Occasionally through the practice of spiritual adoption outsiders are initiated and welcome into that spiritual family. The ancestors of your initiator in these situations become your ancestors and guides as well. It is a spiritual family you have entered into and like all families they will help you and work with you if you honor them as taught.

Working with your ancestors

Now that we have covered the types of ancestors out there and I have mentioned the importance of working with your ancestors its time to actually start thinking about how we can work with them. Why do we work with them, and what the best ways of working with them are.

There are two primary ways aside from meditation and spirit travel work that a person can work with their ancestors. These two forms are the altar and prayers. They work well together and serve as a starting point for building power with your ancestral allies. Unless one is experienced in astral travel and spirit communication using those tools right away to work with your ancestors is not the best of ideas. Prayers and altar work are all you really need.
The altar

Really when it comes to working with your ancestors the only real must do I have found is having an altar of some sort where you can offer prayers and other items to them as you get to know them. These altars can evolve and change over time. The point of the altar is to serve as a focal point in your work. The altar is a place for you to offer your prayers and your gifts to them.

Your altar doesn’t need to be fancy. Many people start off not knowing any of their ancestors. In which case a candle, a cup for water, and a plate for offerings is all you would need to contact them. If you know your passed on loved ones and you have photos of them you can and should add those photos to the altar.

The altar also serves as a place of remembrance of the dead. So its a place to put items that make you think of your ancestors as well as their photos. You want it to look nice and appealing. This is going to be their home for you in your house and their place in your life. So its also important to keep the altar neat looking.

Here are some examples of my own ancestral altars and how its changed over time:

First ancestral altar
First ancestral altar

Second Ancestral Altar
Second Ancestral Altar

Ancestor Altar 3

As you can see by looking at these altars they have changed over time. As they have changed so has my relationship with my ancestors evolved. The reason I wanted to show you the evolution of the altar is that I want you all to know that you can let your altar change over time. Its not meant to be a static thing! Its meant to be something that evolves with you and with your relationship with the spirits!

There are no limits on your ancestral altar. Let their spirits come through. There are reasons for the symbols I have placed on my altars. They grew as my focus and my relationships grew. One thing has always been common though-the focus has been on remembering them and keeping their memories alive in my life.

Ancestral Prayers

The best way to work with your ancestors even before starting an altar is simply to pray to them. Prayers to your ancestors aren’t really any different than prayers for gods and spirit guides. You are simply having a conversation with your ancestors. Prayers are how we can communicate with them directly and its our best way to communicate with them. They can communicate with us in different ways (dreams, scents, meditations, sudden insights etc) but we can really only speak to them through prayers.

The easiest prayer is simply:
“Blessed Ancestors I welcome you into my life. May you bless and guide me and may you teach me what you yourself can”

That’s all your prayers to your ancestors need to be. You dont need to praise them. You don’t need to have a fancy invocation. You simply can address them as your ancestors and they will listen to you. You dont even really need to ask for a blessing. You could simply say something along the lines of:
“Good Morning Ancestors. I welcome you this day”.

All you are doing with your prayers is acknowledging that they exist and that they are apart of your world. By giving them a simple welcome everyday you will start to feel their presence build up. You will begin to know them and feel them like you do can with other spirits and beings that you work with. The more attention you give them the more you will notice them.

Prayers can be more complex and verbose. My personal prayers evolved from a simple Hello and welcome to a full blessing and daily petition for them to be here. There is a bit of praise and there is a bit of thanks. These prayers are offered twice daily. I feel that they flowed from me into the written form when I was channeling spirits and writing prayers for them. My ancestors let me know what they wanted.
Offerings and Gifts

The final way that we can work with our ancestors is in offerings and gifts. These gifts are ways that we say thank you and show our appreciation to them. There are many ways types of gifts that can be given to our ancestors. You can give your ancestor basically anything you would give yourself or a person. They are still family and they are still people.

For myself I consider flowers on graves a gift to them. I also place flowers on the altars every so often as remembrances of them. I try and give them their favorite flowers. I also try and give them their favorite things. For my grandmother I will think of her when I go bowling and send her some of that energy as play and a memory of our times together.

On holidays I will set aside a portion of the food on my plate for my ancestors. I will let it sit till the end and eat that last. They eat the essence of that portion while I eat my meal. When I have finished the portion for me they will have had their fill and I can take nourishment from the food. Other cultures burn food offerings to ancestors and spirits. Some burry the food in the yard. Other throw it into the woods for animals to eat.

There are some taboos in various cultures about what can and can’t be given to ancestors and the dead. If you belong to a specific culture, religion, and or tradition I suggest that you look into ways that they honor the dead. By honoring the traditions of your culture, your religion and your tradition you are honoring your ancestors in that way as well. These traditions after all were ancestral in many cases.
Conclusion:

This post has covered my own discovery into the importance of ancestral veneration. It has covered the types of ancestors and a few of the ways that we can work with our ancestors. Your ancestors are part of who you are. They are powerful allies that can teach you things you wouldn’t imagine and who can be there for you in ways none else can. Your ancestors are still here in this life and in this world just in a different form.

There are many ways to work with them. Once you start working with them you will find that there are many more ways and reasons to work with them. I’ve been working with my ancestors actively for several years and my relationships with them continue to grow and develop. I am constantly learning new reasons to honor them and new ways of working with them. The more I learn the more I realize there is to learn.

These allies seem to be the ones that develop the most as I develop spiritually. The more I understand spiritual and magical practices the stronger they seem to become and the more things we seem to be able to so together. Its my hope that any one who has read this will start to develop their own relationships with their ancestors and start to find the power and comfort in ancestral grace and guidance.

Review: Old Style Conjure Wisdoms, Workings and Remedies

Old style Conjure Wisdoms, workings, and remedies

This book is not exactly what I expected. However Mama Starr didn’t leave me without wisdom and insight. To be honest I wasn’t entirely sure exactly what I thought I was getting when I got this book. I knew there would be folk remedies in there but that was about it. It was actually for the folk remedies that I bought this book.

The introduction of this book is actually very uplifting. This section should not be ignored. It contains the reason why she wrote this book and a cleansing exercise for the readers to do if they are ready to start making changes in their lives. Its simple exercises and affirmations that really make the meat of this book. The introduction cleansing rite is just the first to open the doors.

Prior to really getting into the meat of the word Mama Starr provides associations for candle colors and other magical and spiritual associations for the days of the week. The first section of this books covers daily affirmations. There is an affirmation or “daily wisdom” for each and every day of the year. Each month starts out with the Herb of the month, basic month trivia, sacred stone for the month and birthstone for the month.

The second part of the book is full of folk magic and healing remedies. She starts this section off with a fair warning that she does not expect anyone to try these themselves but if they do each individual must take their own responsibility for any averse effects that the treatments may have. She is not a doctor after all. These are just things that her family did while she was growing up to treat various ailments as they had no money to go to the doctor.

This is the reason why I bought this book. This section covers a small variety of the remedies that she used growing up and continues to use them. From earaches to dipper rash, nightmares and spirit removal this small section of the book covers many remedies that have proven to be effective. Some of these remedies are things I had seen elsewhere like the earaches with garlic oil.

Finally she ends the book with resources and references that readers may find useful. She also includes her own websites on there for further references as well as many other well known and trusted Conjure resources.

So if you are looking for a book of simple daily wisdom this is it.

Forming new Products

The process of forming new Products

 

Today I am going to discuss the process that goes into developing each and every herbal product that we sell. I handcraft each tincture and each incense blend and over the next few weeks will be crafting oils and candles. The process that goes into crafting each of these items is the same regardless of what form the product takes. It is a mixture of intuition, research, and hearing experiences from others in crafting similar items or when working with similar oils and products. The process is intense and it does take a lot of time but I as a witch and magician learn a lot about herbs and oils through this research and am able to grow my craft so I can best benefit you my customers.

In this post I am going to discuss the importance of each part in crafting the items I sell for you here. Without any one of the aspects of this process I would not be able to ensure the quality of the products I have to my customers. These parts are also essential to how I approach my spiritual crafts and practices in general so the crossover is essential. As I grow in my craft and practice so do my skills and my abilities to provide products that serve the needs of my customers.

 

Research

When it comes time to develop a new product I think about what I want to make.  For example when I think of oils I make a list of oils I have thought about working with and or have worked with.  I also think about spells and what sort of magical oils would best work with those spells I want to help my customers cast.  With the list of the oils I want to craft based on needs created I turn to books and websites. This is where the research portion really begins.

There are three Primary books I work with on my general witchcraft and magical oils, incenses, tinctures, and brews.  Those books are Magical Aroma Therapy, & The complete book of Incense, Oils, and Brews both by Scott Cunningham.  The last physical book I work with is the book Kitchen Witchery by Marilyn Daniels.  These three books form the basis of my general occult, witchcraft, and magical herbal products..  I also have an e-book by Lady Gianne called The Magical Oil Recipe Book.

A few of my new Oils, Tinctures, and Powders have a Hoodoo Inspiration to them.  This is true.  I am starting to as I have mentioned on the Facebook page, this blog and our other outlets that I am starting to study and explore the practice of Hoodoo.  These products that are inspired by Hoodoo have been deeply researched.  I have books and websites I have looked into for herbal associations, recipes, and spells from the Hoodoo perspective.

These Hoodoo inspired products have additional prayers and charging aspects done with them.  They are also prepared in a slightly different mentality as the ethics within Hoodoo vastly differs from the ethics found within most modern witchcraft traditions.  So I make it my own by adding my witchy inspiration to the mix.  Its the addition of herbs from a witches cabinet as well as those from Hoodoo/Rootwork/Southern Conjure that makes the products Hoodoo inspired rather than being strictly traditional Hoodoo.

After I use my book resources I start to look into the second phase of developing my products.  The second phase of product development really doesn’t make any sense without the research first.  The research prepares you for what you might encounter in this next phase.  For me this helps temper my overwhelming inspiration and intuition at times with the research.

Personal Experiences

This second phase is one of the main reasons I have joined so many different forums and social media exchanges related to witchcraft over the years.  The sharing of personal experiences for me is one of the best ways to explore experiences both that you have had and that you have and those you have read about.  The sharing of personal experiences by others is also a way to prepare oneself for doing new work.  Its a way of gathering insight and may provide ways of looking at things that you would not otherwise consider.

Personal experiences with herbs can also help a person develop a wider understanding of herbal spirits and practices.  While there are some spiritual and magical aspects that seem to cross cultures with various herbs, other experiences are based in culture or tradition specific practices.  By combing the traditional lore shared in books with personal experiences deeper relationships with herbs can develop.

At the same time new herbs and new ways of performing magic and working with herbs based on the needs can also be learned through discussions of personal experience.  Through these discussions healing charms that can be carried in the pocket and may be a single herb can be learned about and simplicity can be embraced.  Other applications could be learning edible and medicinal aspects to herbs as well as folk medicine and remedies that one may not have considered before.

One personal experience notes have been taken down and added to the notes from book research the final stage of the actual preparation begins.  This is the stage where my witch hat gets applied and my spirit speaks through me.  This is where the actual crafting of the spell and magical actions beginnings before the physical development starts.  here is the mental preparation and focus.

Intuitive decisions

During the research portion I write down copies of the recipes that spark my intuition and make me think “yes this is what I want”. When I am done with the personal experience notes I gather the recipes and I put them into piles based on need and topic (all money oils together, all healing oils together etc).   After a while I look at the piles.  I will then take all the recipes of that need (lets work with money for example here) and compare the components in each recipe.

I’ve noticed that it is very common to have multiple recipes in a book related to needs.  There are several different types of money oils I have found in each of my resources.  In noticing this factor I also made a note of the exact nature of the money oil (wealth, employment, fast cash, etc).  This helped me further refine my own product decisions and allowed me to start refining magical and spiritual practices to more specific needs and desires.

I make a list of the herbs and oils I find in each recipe.  From there I look at my herbal correspondence lists from earlier research.  These lists provide excellent resources for future development as associations are already listed and correspondences have started to become known.  Through using the herbs in multiple ways I start to know them very well.  After working with them in a time the knowledge becomes second nature and I just know what herbs to add to a spell or ritual.

Its at this point that I start to write down what oils and herbs are going to be used in what new product.  I often look at what I already have in stock so I can continue to develop working relationships with those herbs.  However I am also always looking for new herbs and minerals to add to my practice.  In each new product release I am working with a new herb or mineral.  The last batch added sea salt to my practice.  This new batch is adding several new herbs and essential oils.

Once I have the herbs and oils decided I can start the actual blending.  After making decisions based on the research and personal experience my intuition decided in the end which herbs and oils to be used for each blend.  Aside from choosing the herbs and oils there is one other essential aspect to the product development with the use of my intuition.  That is the actual ratios of the herbs.

Often times in practice the actual plans end up needing to be changed to an extent.  The ground herbs can take up more or less space than originally planned and envisioned.  In this case slight changes need to be made based on how much of an individual herb I have left as well as for occasionally looking at substitutions.

This is where the intuition and personal knowledge and experience with the herbs comes into play.  The more I know an herb through experience the better I can decide what to substitute and what to add.  This also for me is where being crafty can come into play as I have to let the spirits of the plants and my spirit speak to me much as artists must let their muse speak to them.  The blending of herbs is an art form in its own right.  Its a spiritual art that often goes unappreciated.

Once these are all placed into balance the product has been developed.  I test its use myself and keep some of each batch for my own personal use.  This ensures to me that the quality of the product I send out is the same quality I would use myself.  If I wouldn’t use it I wont sell it.  This philosophy is also why the development of herbal products is tied directly into my own personal spiritual development and magical studies.  The more I study and experience the more I can provide here.

Why I am not a Traditional Witch

As many of you may or may nor know I don’t consider myself a strict traditional witch, though I do have a lot of traditional leanings. I feel that I needed more direct experiences and practices within Traditional witchcraft to consider myself a traditional witch. Training in the Feri tradition is a part of that.

The other reason I didn’t consider myself really a traditional witch is that I didn’t work really directly with local land spirits and forces. I worked more with my personal energetic forces rather than spirits. That has been changing recently with my studies in the Feri tradition and in Hoodoo/Conjure.

So recently I did a prayer and asked if there were any fairy spirit in the area to make themselves known. A few days later a mushroom ring appears in my backyard. For the first time in my life a fairy ring appeared in my home. It made me feel like the local fairies and spirits did take the first offering I gave at my home/house spirit shrine.

Its just something I thought I would share. I have never experienced a fairy ring in my yard before. So for me its a special gift of the fairies. To me its a signal that my connections with the local forces and spirits is growing and they are listening to me.

Review: The Magical Powers of the Saints-Evocation and Candle rituals

Magical Powers of the Saints

The book The Magical Power of the Saints: Evocation and Candle books was an interesting read. It was just what it states its about. The book focuses on Saints and candle magic and nothing else. THis book never claims to be Hoodoo or anything than working with saints which is excellent. Its a great introduction guide for working with saints and gaining spiritual knowledge from the practice of working with saints.

Before I read this book I knew about maybe two or three saints. I knew of Saint Joan of Arc, Saint Jude, and Saint Paul. This book while not providing detailed information about the saints provides information on 74 different saints that can be worked with for spiritual and practical gains in our lives. The information provided is direct and to the point.

This book contains 11 different chapters. Each of the chapters focuses on a different aspect of what the author calls “popular religiosity” or the working of religio magic or magic with the saints. The topics of the chapters are varied but provide a cohesive system for working with saints.

The book gets started right away in the first chapter by talking about working with saints and deities. The author begins by telling you a bit about how ancient pagans gave offerings to deities and spirits when asking for something. The author then goes on in to how the saints started to have the same roles and practices used with them. This is popular religiosity. From there he gives a list of saints some with images and some without with their associations, colors, and what they are patrons of. You can start formulating your work right away.

The second chapter deals with the practice of divination before doing any sort of working. Now this is not just about telling things based on as they appear with the cards or tool used. This discussion of divination includes finding out what sort of offerings to give, blocks in the way of the working, and the proper saints and spirits to work with. This chapter also discusses the importance of the diviner priest to know magic and divination.

The third chapter focuses on ancestors and the dead. The author explains how prayers to the ancestors can work with a biblical verse. The author then talks about a concept called the “Mighty dead” which is found in various traditions of witchcraft. He relates this concept to working with saints and ends the chapter with a prayer you can offer to your ancestor for working with them.

The fourth chapter is all about working the candles. Here we get our first taste of the type of work that is ahead of us. The author goes into the history of candles in magic and prayer. The majority of the chapter focuses on several different types of candles and their uses for work. The chapter ends with a “ritual of transformation”

The fifth chapter is really three chapters together. This chapter focuses on reading the signs in the candles as they burn, several different candle spells, and oils for working the candles. This is the spell and correspondence section of the book and provides different spells and rituals for basically every need.

The sixth chapter focuses on the use of the psalms in the bible. The author doesn’t go into a discussion about the use of the psalms merely states that they are a historical magical use. The author then provides a list of the different psalms that can be used in spells and candle work for various needs. They are grouped by need or use in numerical order.

The seventh chapter focuses on aspects of ritual. Here the author talks about incenses, baths, and washes. These are components of different magical practices that can be obtained and add benefit to the other workings. Here the author introduces the concept and how to be ware the costs of those selling washes, baths, and the like.

The eighth chapter is all about putting the practices together. Here the author talks about working with planetary hours on the days. The author also includes arch angels and the hours and items they can be petitioned for. The author also includes ideas on how to make prayer beads and work effective magic that way.

The ninth chapter is about becoming a diviner priest or priestess. Here the author goes into the training that is required to become a diviner priest or priestess. the author also provides a simple but also diverse divination style that a diviner priest or priestess may need to be familiar with in order to complete their training.

The tenth chapter of the book is all about the church that the author is a reverend of. The author includes photo copied images of his certifications to prove he can teach what he teaches and is what and who he says he is.

The last chapter in the book is a final set of advice. Here the author gives a final bit of advice for when seeking the help of a professional root worker, witch, or what ever. Not everyone who offers these services is what they say they are.

All in all the author provided a good basis to start delving into your own work with saints and angelic spirits. While there could have been more lore provided for the various saints and more information about the herbs and incenses and oils, the book will get you started on the path of working with saints and angelic forces. When you combine this work with the recommended reading list the author provides more then enough sources and information to begin feeling comfortable in these practices.

%d bloggers like this: