It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
— e.e. cummings
Today I want to talk about ancestor trails. We have two threads weaving through us, making us who we are today. One is our physical ancestors, and the other is our spiritual lineage. The two can be quite different.
The spiritual lineage is all the paths of spirituality you trod in other lifetimes, or are living now in other realities. Obviously if you are reading this, nature-based spirituality is already running through your veins. This is a song which calls us across timelines, to honour our Mother Earth and all our relations, and have a great desire to live in peace and harmony with all.
As modern materialistic life runs counter to the yearning in our souls, tracing the ghosts of the ancient past, with their deep and sacred connection to nature begins to define who we are in the world today. We become the Wild Ones who Remember another way to be — to walk lightly, to listen intently, and to honour everything with our reverence.
The Earth is grateful to you.
Let’s talk for a moment about our physical ancestors.
The ancient ones would revere the ancestors, understanding their spirits were still round for comfort and protection. The Druids, for example, understood that the soul reincarnated. The person who was didn’t just disappear to be buried or burned, and forgotten. Not only did they return, but they were to be honoured while not in physical form.
To move forward, we need to make peace with our past. Our ancestors leave a trail and a footprint. They lived very different lives, but possibly left us with “stuff” to deal with. Perhaps there was alcoholism running through your ancestral trail, or perhaps Great Uncle Harry was a magician and Grandma Violet was a wise woman.
Perhaps they carried blood they didn’t even know about.
Perhaps they were awesome people, but deeply affected by the social mores of the time. Perhaps they carried their countries suffering in their veins. Who knows?
What is your make-up? Where it is from? Who determined the physical body you came to hold as your temple today?
Your soul chose your particular ancestral line to inhabit for a reason in this lifetime. So there is no one to blame for anything. The Earth is a school, and there could be a multitude of reasons why you were supposed to learn what you did from the human beings who raised you. If you want to blame anyone, blame your Higher Self!! They set you up for your highest good!
When each generation stands on its own, and doesn’t feel connected to its lineage, then we have the problems of alienation and disconnection that are so prevalent today. When we know about our ancestors, when we sense them as living and as supporting us, then we feel connected to the genetic life-stream, and we draw strength and nourishment from this.”
Symbolically, or metaphorically, we can call this influence on our identity, on who we are today, the Spirit of the Ancestors – a Spirit which connects us to who we are as genetic beings. We can sense ourselves and our generation as one link in a long chain stretching far into the past and far into the future.
— Philip Carr Comm, Druid Mysteries: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century
Making peace with our ancestors
(Read through the instructions first.)
Many people have issues with their ancestral line. It could be your parents, it could be your grandparents or even great grandparents or further back.
There could be illness in the family line. But the big question is, where did the weakness begin? And can we find that hurt, and heal it with love?
This is a time to let go any judgements about the people in your physical line. Again, your soul chose this family, these parents, grandparents and so on, as yours in this life. If they hurt you, perhaps it was because they themselves had been hurt. Or they didn’t know any better, or they had ancestors living in them who dictated how to behave and live according to the mores of the times.
My experience as a healer has taught me that when people are perfectly loved and appreciated and encouraged by their parents, they completely flourish in this fertile soil.
My job so often is to offer this love to heal the petty resentments, jealousies, feelings of not being loved enough, of being abandoned, of being overlooked and all other negative qualities, which cause people to behave in ways that don’t look like Love. When people are put in a time line of love, everything falls into place, everything shifts, and everyone is radiant.
So now we can really do some work with deep peace and divine love.
Take some time with this process.
Get yourself comfortable, and take a few deep breaths to relax your body and still the mind. Embody that state of deep peace and divine love.
Call in your ancestors on both sides of the family. Allow your ancestors to come into the room and see if you can find the person who carries the traumatic origin. Where is the break in the health and wellbeing of your family line? Can the person or people step forward? Can you offer them divine love healing and deep peace? Ask permission. Give them the healing of love and full acceptance.
Can you understand that they need your forgiveness, to let them go to live in peace, and to free you from the binds of the past?
Can you now offer forgiveness, divine love and deep peace to all you ancestors, knowing they did the best they could?
Take a breath.
Now is the time to explore your ancestral line for all the positives they posses — even good things they didn’t know they possessed. Were they writers or poets? Musicians or artists? Did they have big hearts for animals? Were they passionate about protecting their family? Were they wise ones? Did they teach in the stories they told, were they magical in the kitchen or with the soil? Were they strong in health and big in heart and laughter?
Ask them for their healed timeline traits. Gifts and wisdom they would have liked to pass down to you in this life. Take as long as you like. Thank them for this wonderful gift!
And then thank them some more.
You might see them in a different perspective. You might feel for them both compassion and gratitude. And deep love.
When you feel complete, thank them all with love, gratitude, and appreciation in your heart. Come back into the room, ground by rubbing your feet on the floor and your hands together. And write in your journal.
If you got stuck in this exercise , that’s ok. Process, integrate and try again. This is a way for you to make peace with your past, freeing you to live more fully, and richly in the now. And know your ancestors really do love you.
Make an Ancestor Altar
If you feel like you would like to honour your ancestors, you can make a prayer and meditation spot for them. This draws them to you and builds a place of communion.
I wouldn’t put this in your bedroom, but find a quiet place in your home where you might have a table with all their photographs on it. You might have something of value that has been passed down to you, like a tea pot or a ring. You might have cards or letters they sent you. You might include a potted plant and a candle.
This is the place you can come to when you need the strength of family and ancestors, when you need to feel their love and hear their wisdom.
In some cultures, offerings are given to these altars— to the ancestors. This is a way to “feed the ancestors”. In other words, it is a way of honouring and ayni. Many people do flowers, but I don’t like to cut flowers, so I would rather keep a flowering plant on the table. Having a dish of vegan candy is another way. Or as well as. You might like to offer a slice of cake or some biscuits on a plate with a cup of tea. Make it nice. You might even consider going the whole Victorian thing with doilies or whatever…or back further— whatever the tradition of your family.
This is a place where the ancestors can gather, be nourished, and nourish you.
It also stops them attaching themselves to you to try and get your attention.
At Samhain, we traditionally set an extra place at the table for the ancestors to come to our table. We are always rewarded with my dad and Andrew’s grandparents coming in, and we always receive some conversation and wisdom.
Share your thoughts and experience with this process (if you want).