How You Are Connected to Your Ancestors
More and more of us are becoming aware of the importance of staying connected with our ancestors and our bloodline. When the Church forbade ancestor worship and traditional ancestor practices, they knew exactly what they were doing. They were cutting us off from our roots. In today’s Ancestor Work for Beginners post, we will look at how to start reconnecting to the realm of the ancestors once more. This post also includes a simple Tarot spread to help you gauge what the ancestors want or need from you right now.
In modern society, it’s a known fact that we inherit certain traits via our DNA. What people have forgotten is that we also inherit our luck from our ancestors. This is important to be aware of if we at all wish to affect our luck (hamingja) and agency (megin) in the world today. Both the hamingja and the megin are parts of the self according to the Old Norse tradition. The hamingja could be passed on from one generation to the next and was said to be visible as a female spirit, comparable to the Guardian Angel in the Christian faith. The megin is the result of our virtuous actions and honouring the ancestors strengthens the megin.
None of us are completely self-made. Ultimately, our fate is intimately tied in with that of our ancestors.
Your ancestors are not just older generations that have passed away. Anybody younger in your family, including miscarriages, count too. You may also wish to include patrons for your line of work or heroes in your ancestral worship. You do not have to include ancestors who have behaved abusively toward you. However, eventually, you can (if you wish and feel it is appropriate) use the connection to your ancestral collective to heal relationships with those spirits too.
How to Begin Working with the Ancestors
- Put together an altar or shrine that you can centre your practice around. On this altar you can place items that have been passed on from your ancestors and/or pictures of them.
- Decide on a time to do this work. This can be daily, weekly, or once a month. What’s important is to make the practice regular. I do my ancestor work on Mondays since we are karmically linked with our ancestors through the Moon. If once a year is more your cup of tea, Halloween/Samhain might be a good time. However, I highly recommend doing this work more often!
- Purify and ritually cleanse the space with incense or any other method that you prefer.
- The first time you approach the ancestors, simply light a candle on the altar and let them know that you are ready to make the connection with them. If you are not sure what sort of offerings to use, this is a good time to ask them. Let the answer surface intuitively. It can be (but doesn’t have to be) libations. It can also be anything that you know personally would be appreciated by your ancestors.
- Simply talk to them as if you would if they were present in the flesh. The truth is, they are always present and available, just not in this third dimension.
- Share your appreciation and gratitude for them.
- Talk to them about your worries and ask them to help. You can address a specific ancestor or the whole collective. If working with specific ancestors, you may wish to have a representation of them on the altar and offer them appropriate offerings.
- Perform a divination to see if there are any messages or just listen to see if messages are coming through. Let them know that you are open to receiving messages in dreamtime as well.
- Let them know that this is now a regular thing so that they can connect in appropriate ways from their end.
- End with a prayer if that feels appropriate or just a loving and heartfelt ‘See you soon.’
Ancestor work does not have to be formal or done through complex rituals unless that is what you (and your ancestors) prefer. You may wish to start simply with an informal first ritual and then begin elaborating on it. That is also okay. Sometimes rituals help us shift gears and get into the right mind space. You may wish to borrow from pre-Christian rituals and practices if that is the case.
The first time I made contact with an ancestral collective, it happened spontaneously, as I was waking up. I heard the words, ‘Saivo, Saivo, Saivo’ and then, ‘We are always with you.’ This was my Saami ancestral collective. So to represent them, I have a Saami bracelet that my grandmother made on the altar. I personally prefer items to images but don’t be afraid to experiment to see what works best for you.
Using Divination to Connect with Your Ancestors
The Ancestral Collective Tarot spread that I created a while back is an excellent spread to use during your first ancestral ritual. However, you can just pull one card (Tarot or Oracle) or rune for a message if you wish to keep things simple. During my first ritual to connect with the spirits, I pulled just one rune. I received Gebo–a sign that they were happy to open the channels of communication in equal giving and receiving.
Don’t forget to write your reading down.
Start a Dream Journal
You are likely to experience more intense dreams once you make the initial connection. If you have not been keeping a dream journal before, now is a great time to start. Set the intention to remember your dreams upon falling asleep. Keep your dream journal or a recording device next to your bed so that you can record your dream(s) upon waking.
The best way to ensure that you remember your dreams is to lie in bed for a while, with your eyes closed. Bring the dream memories up and replay them in your mind before recording them. This way, you will retain more details.
I hope you find this guide helpful!