As October rolls around and the early mornings begin with cool, crisp air, I am overcome with a sense of nostalgia for the old, for things that need to be remembered. As a witch, my thoughts turn to the shedding of the leaves. There is some sadness in those fading colors but I find myself looking forward to the stillness of the winter-time, the warmth of the hearth and early mornings with hot tea while looking out the windows at the cold.
When I experience the bold transition from fall to winter, my thoughts fall to my ancestors, all those who have gone before me in endeavor, bloodline, in spiritual heritage and more. I put forth here that ancestors are far more than blood relatives that have passed to the Otherworld. How do we honor them if we do not know them? How can we reach out and reconnect with the roots that hold us fast and safe? Do we know our own roots and what calls to us? Answers to such questions cannot be found in books but only by looking deep within the self
Our ancestors are all those who go before us. I’ve been fortunate to learn a few things about my ancestors by talking to old relatives and hearing the stories they had to tell. I asked my mother what her mother most liked to eat or what my great aunt’s favorite color was. When I most need to know I sit and contemplate. I look outside to the changing weather and consider what my ancestors may have done during seasonal changes. Simple acts, such as eating seasonally may aid in putting us in tune with ancestors. On my stove sits a heavy mortar and pestle. Close by is a candle that reminds me of the hearth fires and how those fires kept families alive. I pull together what I know and invoke that connection. My ancestors are in the stars, the earth, the trees and in the flowers. They live in memory, in action, passion and most certainly blood.
In 2012 I pondered how in the world I would be able to connect with ancestors that I did not know. Now, before I begin let me put it out there that this method was mine, I don’t suggest that you do anything like this –especially if you are squeamish. At the time, I worked primarily with candles and plants. I already had a list of favorite plants and flowers. Setting intention is all that is needed but pondered a way to directly tap my bloodline when I was hit with a sudden epiphany. For well over a year I’d been hearing a very odd message; “It’s in the blood.” With firm intention and final understanding, I briskly walked to the cabinet and got out my small melting pot. I threw in wax I’d been saving and melted it down. While it melted, I gathered wick and a tin can. I soaked a sharp pin in alcohol, washed my hands. I closed my eyes for a moment and connected. With a firm prick of my middle finger blood seeped to the surface. A few drops collided with the wax and I stirred it around a little before carefully pouring it into the tin can.
Blood may be a disturbing medium for many. That said, It is, of course, by no means necessary. It is a symbolic act, one that is profound in my own mind hence the use of it. If you do choose to use this method, take all necessary safety and health precautions for yourself and anyone you are working with.
Here are a few things to consider prior to working with the ancestors. Consider who you may be connecting to; not all of our ancestors were friendly or would wish us well. Also, not all ancestors are blood relatives, they may also be those connected to your practice, perspectives or even your work. In your Invocation of ancestors, specify who or what kind of ancestors you are looking to connect with.
- If you have pictures or other memorabilia use it.
- If you have cultural heritage you have not explored, then get to know it.
- If you know the favorite foods of loved ones, you can take the time to prepare small portions of those meals and set a place for them.
- If you desire to visit a grave, take a small gift to leave there with your loved one.