30 Days of Samhain: Day Twenty-One


Just in time for All Hallow’s Eve! A Visual Pathworking of meeting Hecate at Her crossroads and choosing your path of transformation. Enjoy!

Click here to accèss on my YouTube channel-Journey to the Inner Chamber:
A Meeting at the Crossroads

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30 Days of Samhain: Day Twenty

The Gift of My Ancestor
A Tarot Spread for Samhain

Samhain is ripe with potential for honing your psychic skills and divination plays nicely as a tool of fine tuning. There are many tools that can be used for divination, but Tarot is one that is at the very top of the list in versatility and access for learning. Today, I am offering a specially created Tarot spread to be used to seek answer to a query you have for an ancestor.

What You Will Need:

  • Your favorite deck of Tarot Cards. Rider-Waite Tarot is the deck most used for beginning study and deepening your interpretations;
  • A solid color scarf or piece of fabric to be used to lay out the spread;
  • A small candle (optional) or two;
  • A small crystal (optional) of choice that you associate with as opening your psychic senses. A small quartz point is a generic choice.
  • A drink and small portion of food favored by the Ancestor you are reaching to for answer. Have a second portion of each for yourself to be eaten as a point of communing and gratitude to your beloved after the reading is complete. These should be placed nearby, but not on the reading cloth.

About the Spread:

You will use Five (5 )cards for this spread. Five was selected for its numerologic significance as being a number of change and transformation. It also aligns with the five alchemical elements of air, fire, water, earth and the sixth, of Spirit.

Air represents mind, thought, breath and flexibility. It is the only element that cannot be visualized. We see the by products and effects of air, such as the curtains blowing or the breeze across our body, but we do not physically see air.

Fire represents the will and resultant action that is catalyzed by that will. Fire stimulates us to create and stirs us to quicken what we wish to fuel with passion.

Water represents the heart and emotions. The depths of intuitive sight bubble up as we “feel” our way through experiences. Water has no boundary or shape of its own; rather it takes on the form or shape of the container that it flows into.

Earth represents all that is manifest, physical and corporeal. Earth is our body and the body upon which we make our home. Earth is the final manifest product that Air (Mind) creates that breathes into the Fires (Will to Action) that begin movement towards the goal that is birthed in the space of Water’s (Heart) and intuitive knowing.

Spirit is the imminent part of our being that is the source of our divine nature. Spirit contains the four alchemical elements within itself, acting as the synthesis of each one’s higher form and essence.

Additionally I’ve pulled the energy of “as above, so below”  using the six pointed star that is comprised of two triangles; one pointed upwards as above and the other dipping down into manifestation as below.

Using this energy, Cards 2 and 3 straddle the mid-point of synthesis where the triangle of Spirit and Manifestation intersect. So, their reading encompasses what is received in both layers of expression.

Ready, Set, Go!

If you have a nice piece of fabric or scarf that is a solid pattern (to avoid distraction) use that to lay your cards out. You may want to add a candle and feel free to add a small crystal (I like to use a clear quartz point) to place on the cloth and use to open my awareness.

Select your favorite deck to use and shuffle the cards well. This serves a dual purpose of ensuring that the order of cards will be random and you will also be embedding your energetic imprint into the deck. Once shuffled, take a moment to hold the deck in both hands, speak your query out loud or silently and breathe the energy of your intention into your deck. Place the deck on the surface of the cloth. Divide into two piles and reassemble putting one on top of the other.

Turn your attention now to the ancestor you wish to commune with for your answer. Draw up the image of that beloved on your inner screen with as much detail and clarity as possible. Imagine them sitting across from you and guiding the energy of your card selection as way of reply to you. When you feel the blessing of their presence, audibly say…
“thank you for your wisdom and joining me”

You are now ready to select your cards. Without looking at the cards, select 5 cards from anywhere in the deck and lay them face down as below:

Place the remainder of the deck off to the side and out of the way. Pause for a moment and then turn each card over, one at a time, moving in order. When all are facing up, begin reading your cards, focusing on what their intention and placement is. You may wish to take a picture of the spread for future reference and write down your interpretations in a journal so you can piece it together later.

Note: Although traditionally accepted, I don’t usually do reverse card (upside down) readings of the card. If a card is turned over and is upside down I just place it upright. If you prefer to read the cards as they present upright or reversed, honor what you are used to.

The Intention of the Cards:

CARD 1: EARTH/THE PHYSICALWhere is your place (or gift) of anchor?

This card is rooted as the point of the manifest world (“as below”) and represents what in the physical world keeps you strong, grounded and stable.

CARD 2: AIR/MINDWhat will serve as my blueprint (or plan) of design, originating from my spiritual self (or path)? and What will serve as my blueprint (or plan) of design, originating in the physical world?

This card straddles the manifest and the spiritual and receives two spaces of use. The answer given to this query will play out in these two aspects of yourself- the spiritual and the human. The synthesis of answer comes from the ability to draw from the plan that originates from your higher self and blends with the human self to manifest a product that will serve all aspects of your being.

CARD 3: WATER/HEART – Where will I find my passion in the spiritual world? Where will I find my passion in the physical world?

This card also straddles the manifest and the spiritual and receives two spaces of use.
The answer given to this query will play out in these two aspects of yourself- the spiritual and the human. The synthesis of answer comes from realizing that will to action is fueled by your hearts desire and passion for what you wish to achieve. The intuitive sight received from the heart of the spiritual self and the passion that evolves in the birthing waters of what you offer your heart to.

CARD 4: FIRE/WILLWhat action must I take?

This card is rooted in the spiritual self (“as above”) and emanates from the higher self. The answer to this query will be fused in right action and in accord with the highest good for all.

CARD 5: SPIRIT – THE ANCESTOR and WISDOM SHARED What will be your gift to me? and How will I honor you?

This card represents the essence of the ancestor from whom you’ve requested help. The two questions represent the reciprocity of gratitude. The gifts received in reading the other 4 cards provide the foundation (4 is a number of stability and foundational effort) and align the elements of self that will act upon the wisdom received.

When you have completed all five cards and are satisfied with the information received, be sure to spend some time “hanging out” with your ancestor and thank them for what was shared with you. A toast and favorite food, shared with your ancestor, is an excellent way to end the reading.

To Learn More About Tarot:

Audio Course:
Live Presentation of a workshop presented on the Major Arcana of the Tarot. Handouts, images and audio available.
A Walk Through the Major Arcana

Card Interpretation if you are new to Tarot:
Aclectic Tarot – a good online reference site

and…..Stay tuned for an online course beginning soon to learn the Tarot on my blog, Tarot for Troubling Times.

To Learn More About the Alchemical Elements:

A Year and A Day on the Wiccan Path: The Natural World

Video: 13 Days Walking the Witch’s Path-The Natural World

The Elemental Connection

The Elemental Year: Aligning the Elements of Self
R. Fennelly. 2013 First Edition

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30 Days of Samhain: Bonus Post – New Moon in Scorpio

New Moon in Scorpio
October 27.2019

The Moon waxes New in the astrological sign of Scorpio today at 2:38p.m. I’ve chosen this as a Samhain focus because of the inherent qualities of Scorpio’s energies and the timing of Samhain falling within the solar month of Scorpio; having made this transition on October 23rd. Additionally, Mars, the planet of asserting will to action, transited into Libra on the 5th. giving any movement forward an additional boost of refinement before the Sun kickstarts in Scorpio’s cloak of mystery and magick.

The astrological sign of Scorpio is steeped in the occult nature of things. It is a sign of the Fixed (stability and synthesis) modality that provides a foundational vessel of containment for what enters from Cardinal beginnings and flows from its synthesis into the flexibility of the Mutable.  Scorpio is of the water element, so there is the overlay of emotional seascape as well as an organic ebb and flow (contraction and expansion) that occurs in any space where Scorpio has impact.

Additionally, Scorpio is the only sign of the Zodiacal wheel that is exemplified by three (3) very distinct and evolving symbols; the scorpion-the eagle and the Phoenix. Each rises higher than the next, which means that the capacity of true transformation begins from the depths of a hidden soul and ascends into the rendering down to ash and rebirth of a brilliant soul of light.

Samhain’s magick is one of evolutionary transformation as the veils part and we are offered the briefest interaction with those who have moved beyond the constraints of corporeal form and now see a much larger picture. This interaction , however, does not come without due price in that the seeker must be willing to rise above whatever darkness they themselves feel cloaked within and become the beacon of light that attracts what they most desire- time once again in the company of a loved one.

This season’s gifts of darkness and light are resonant of the Solar Month of Scorpio as the light and strength of the Sun may be transfigured into what is appropriate for what is sought. The scorpion’s energy of burrowing into the soil and laying hidden until provoked is much like the individual who wishes to remain buried within the depths of their darkened den. Neither seeking out the affirmation of the light nor seeking the validation of others, this is a necessary process of coming to know yourself in your deepest and darkest places.

When this is accomplished and the information is assimilated and the truth revealed, you do not fear the world of death and those who inhabit it. And, you realize that even in the darkness there is a light that will draw out what is called when the time is appropriate. Te next stage of transition is that of the Eagle, who having mastered the lessons of the scorpion now has mastery over the skies and is keen of sight.

The breath of water’s emotions that rise and fall as the waterfalls cascading down the heights of the mountain fill the earthen shaped container that provides support. The Eagle soars above and must now use discernment in what it takes as nourishment. The heights offer a light-filled perspective that is panoramic and in carrying this ideal into Samhain’s energies, we are reminded of the promise of life and the need for discernment on the choices we make as the New Year (of the Witch) begins.

In the third aspect of Scorpio’s symbology we have the Phoenix, the mystical creature that burst into flames, renders down to ash and from the ash is reborn, more brilliant than previously. Emerging from the gifts of Samhain we have the potential to reshape and reform whatever we wish. The wisdom that flows from our ancestors and the deities and beings who mark this time of the year is one that has been honed by deep experience and the synthesis of what has been released and what has been taken in.

Scorpio’s waters flow from the depths of gnosis and intuitive sight and we can use these waxing moon Scorpio days to prepare the way for clarity and true sight as we enter the heart of Samhain’s potential. Instinct and intuition will guide you to what you seek as the veils open to reveal the deeper mysteries.

Read More About Scorpio:
Sun in Scorpio:Open the Flood Gates and Lift the Veil
The Magick of Scorpio

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30 Days of Samhain-Day Nineteen

Opening to Divination

Circle round thrice
As the witch’s pouch
Is held tight.

The cauldron is filled
With water and moonlight.

Gaze up towards Lady Moon
And call forth your desire.

The herbs in the bag of art
Throw now into the heat
Of the blazing fire.

Gaze into that
Which holds the key
Reflecting back the
Treasure of answer to me.

Herb and water
Iron and flame
The truth revealed
The heart’s desire thusly named.

No Samhain celebration would be complete without some curiosity and action taken to peer into what “may be”. To that end, divination is the space of opening to being receptive enough to ask the query and receive the answer. Today’s post sets the stage for that work…

When we hear the word “Divination” it usually conjures up a picture of the gypsy fortune-teller who will predict your future love interest, dream job or soon to be received wind-fall. In reality, divination can take on that form, but it can also serve as a highly effective tool in extending and solidifying your energetic and psychic connection to the world around you. Lest, it be believed to be a less than a reputable source for information remember that kings, queens, politicians, warriors, dictators, businessmen, corporate giants and many others who would be considered “too rational” to believe in such “stuff” have routinely consulted with those having oracular abilities. The horoscope scrolls placed strategically at cash register’s end weave their magick and often engage even the most resolute of skeptics – if for no other reason than curiosity.

In ancient times those who practiced the art were called oracles, soothsayers, shamans, sorcerers, mages, fortune-tellers and more. The art, itself, in recent years has moved from that of being shrouded in mystery to the forefront of magickal workings with books, workshops and training in abundance. The internet is abuzz with “plug in your question and receive an instant reading” sites which are frequented daily by those needing “to know”. I use the word “art” because in its most pure, undiluted and non-commercialized form, divination remains a skill, that even with a natural predisposition towards natural ability still requires practice, hard work, a substantial knowledge base of magickal systems and years of study to elevate its effect beyond “parlor tricks”. So, what then are the mechanisms and guidelines for the serious student of Divination?

Expectations or Fate vs Free Will/Choice

Many who come to the diviner’s table accept whatever information is received as being the sealed deal. And, it is also those same who are often either disappointed when they do not meet the future lover with blonde hair and blue eyes or subconsciously manipulate their interactions and surroundings to fulfill the said prophecy. Neither scenario is good outcome, nor what the expectations should be. If we consider the information received as being simply that – “more information” this allows us greater option in how to exercise our free will and consequently how we will use that information. If approached in that manner, rather than allowing that information to narrow and limit our choice, giving excuse that Fate expects us to obey blindly, we open to the possibilities of making choice of a potential outcome based on the consequences of our will, not that of a diabolical Universal Plan. Take the information received in Divination and mull it over, meditate upon it and then act upon it in a way that is now fully informed by having pieces of a larger picture afforded you.

The Focus and Intent

We’ve talked of the importance of Intent upon any magickal working and the ultimate success or failure given the specificity of that intent. Divination uses this same important component to draw the information received into a concise form. In order to align yourself with energies that are able to align and resonate with the answers sought, the work of developing a state of focused and directed energy towards that goal is also required. Quieting oneself, visualizing that you are in alignment with the source of all knowledge and removing your conscious mind from the distractions around you opens the subconscious to retrieve what is needed. It is precisely this principle that accounts for those flashes of inspired though when least expected and when you are most relaxed and not actively trying.

A nice analogy is to use is the idea of your focus and intent as being the zip code that is added to that important bill payment. If left off, it will eventually be received at its destination, possibly late enough to incur a penalty for the lack of clarity. If added, that piece of mail will be promptly sorted and directed towards its destination on time and in support of future good credit when that all important purchase is made.

Developing the receptivity necessary for a clear stream of information can be cultivated through development of a regular meditation practice. This component, as stated in prior lessons, trains the mind to remain fixed, clear and precise in what its desires are. This is what also makes it an excellent tool to incorporate into your practice of learning to work with a divination tool. In the work of Divination a large portion of what is received will be filtered through your own understanding, so to minimize the internal interpretation (particularly if you are doing readings for others) you want to set aside a portion of your own consciousness and work from a state of consciousness that is receptive and open to pure communication devoid of internal commentary. Most importantly you also want to be able to actively turn off the extraneous noise and distractions that convolute the stream of flow and setting into a tangled mess of miscommunication.

Reading for Yourself

It is for this reason that doing a reading or Divinatory work for yourself can be a bit more challenging. You know what outcome you wish to occur (albeit often at a subconscious level, but it is there nonetheless). You know every weakness and strength that you overtly display. You already have more information about yourself than you would any client you are reading for. So, subjectivity in the reading and filtering the information will be colored with these known as well as those unknown biases. And, if you are anything like me I LOVE to play mind games with myself! So what to do?

Remember the act of focusing and getting the preconceptions of your mind out of the way? This is where dedicated practice (meditation) will help. And, having this pre-sorted information does play into the clearly formed query. Most importantly, rather than a detriment, the subconscious can be an ally, as long as the intent is clear and the focus strong. Remember, we carry within ourselves the solution and answer to every problem, query and situation and the storehouse of memories, past experiences including ways of coping that were both productive and negative are stored as well. We do already know the answer, ultimate the solution and the precise course of direction to be taken, that once received and processed through the Higher Self’s understanding is exactly what the action should be.

The process in reading for others is largely the same, with the exception that the focus and intent are directed towards connecting with their subconscious store-house or experiences through the information you are getting. As you relate to them the information received (it generally will make no sense to you and your work is not to restructure and interpret that information through your own understanding) it opens keys and connections within their own framework that can be processed and ultimately understood within their context of what is being asked.

*** As a side note. When I do tarot readings for others I do not ask what the question is. I have the client silently focus their intent and query into the energy of the deck I will be using and then begin the reading. My feeling is that I want to go into the reading in a state that is unprejudiced and unbiased to a specific answer as possible. Now, there have been times when I sensed that it was important for the client to state his/her query; largely because it enabled the person to open more fully. In those circumstances, the client would have shut down the energetic connection made and the information received would have been more consciously driven and manipulated to fit the situation. This is not necessarily the right approach for everyone, but I have found it to be most compatible with my way of receiving and processing the information received.

Some Common Tools of Divination

Below you will find a listing of the most commonly used tools for oracular work. Take some time to explore the various options and go with what feels right to you. Be aware that sometimes what you feel is absolutely the right option may lead you to something you have more interest and ultimately more engagement in and are better at using. I started with runes, moved to a brief stint with the Oghams and finally settled on the Tarot as my primary tool.

The irony is that at the very beginning of my search into the options, the Tarot was something I had the least interest in and just did not feel anything calling me to its use. With that being said, the experience of trial and error has however, offered opportunities to incorporate some of those tools in ritual or when the Tarot is just not the right source, I have other options I am familiar with that give the information I need in the form I need it. As with everything on this Path, you change, your spiritual nature changes and evolves and so do the tools, interests and those things that enhance and enrich your experience:

  • Tarot
  • Scrying
  • Crystal Gazing
  • Candle or Fire Gazing
  • Water Scrying
  • Mirror Gazing
  • Pendulums
  • Runes
  • Palmistry
  • I Ching
  • Celtic Oghams

Read more about these Tools here:
The Tools for Divination

Tomorrow’s post: A Special Tarot Spread
The Gift of My Ancestor

Read more about Divination and Spell Work here:
Divination and Spell Work

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30 Days of Samhain: Day Eighteen

The Ancestor’s Cauldron
A Pathworking of Communion

I would like to invite you to join me on a journey of seeking wisdom from the ancestors. The pathworking  may be used anytime to deepen your connection, but it is particularly useful as a tool at Samhain and during the time between that flows into the Winter Solstice.

You will want to find a comfortable space where you will not be disturbed for approx. 20-30 minutes. I would suggest that you have a small object that belonged to or represents your beloved ancestor to hold while experiencing the pathworking. This will set up the intention o reaching out. You may also light a candle if you wish.

When you are ready, you may either read through the transcript below or click on the link to access an audio recording. Blessings on your journey…

audio –The Ancestor’s Cauldron
(you will be redirected to Teachings on the Path at Bandcamp)

Transcript -The Ancestor’s Cauldron

Find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed and sit comfortably allowing your breath to establish an even and relaxed rhythm. Make note of any tension you may be holding in your body and as you exhale gently breathe that tension out; allowing it to drop around you like beads of water. Allow any thoughts that wish to have your attention to be acknowledged and then gently let go to pass as leaves in a gently flowing stream. Draw your consciousness up to rest in the space of your third eye and mid-forehead. See in this space a blank inner screen. You are sitting as observer and you take note of a small blue dot of energy that is central within that space. As you continue to breathe deeply and fully you see that the blue sphere is expanding and coming to fill the entirety of the space in front of you. You feel the energy of thousands of tiny blue dots comprising this veil of mist and you issue forth the intent of communing with your Ancestors and seeking their wisdom. You take a deep breath in. As you slowly and gently exhale you step through this mist and emerge to find that you are standing in the center of a moonlit forest clearing. You see the silhouette of tall shapely trees just ahead of you and can smell the fragrant burning of wood wafting through the air.

You offer up a call of invocation to those ancestors you wish to help with the opening of your intuitive sight on this journey. Before the last utterance of name and word is issued you see that an opening has appeared between two of the largest trees just ahead. You walk towards the opening in the trees, passing through a gossamer like veil of multicolored energy. The particles of this veiling are very refined and the sensation is one very much like that of a piece of the softest silk as it is gently drawn across your skin.

As you move forward you now see the flickering of light and the smell of wood burning growing stronger and brighter with each step you take towards this light. As you reach the edge of the trees you see that there is a small clearing centrally located and surrounded by another circle of smaller trees. There appear to be shadowy forms creating a circular shape. As you move closer, you can make out the shapes and forms seated near each of the trees and instinctively know that these are the ancestors you have called to aid you in your working.

A fire is crackling and hissing in the center and offers its light to this darkened space. You move towards the fire and see placed just in front of it a large cauldron sitting atop a very large and round tree stump. You move towards the cauldron and see that it has been filled with water that shimmers from the reflection of fire and candlelight. You look around, hoping to see more clearly the face of those observing, but they are cloaked in a veiling and you don’t have the clarity to see. You hesitate for a moment, unsure that you should be in this space and just as you are about to turn to walk away, you feel gentle yet firm hands on your shoulders. Words fill your mind, not spoken in audible manner but more of a telepathic knowing. You are told that you are welcome in this space and that they have been waiting for you to ask for assistance and guidance. You feel a bit more pressure and come to kneel in front of the cauldron.

You close your eyes and take a deep breath in and pull to the center of your consciousness the question that you have. This question has long been held in the deep recesses of your awareness. It is important now to your future growth and you are in safe space and supportive company that it may freely and have its own will rise to the surface. Holding firmly to the intent of this query, you take another deep breath in and as you exhale you breathe out and into the waters of the cauldron. A swirling of violet mist briefly surrounds you, the cauldron and the flames and just as quickly dissipates as images begin to form on the surface of the waters.

You feel excited and energized at what lie before you and breathe deeply to calm and steady your sight. As the images become clearer an inner dialogue begins of question and answer as to the nature of what you are seeing, how it may be applied and the relevance it has for you at this time. Spend some time gazing deeply, listening purposefully and taking in the sensations that are moving through you.

As the last image and words of explanation fade you feel the energy of what you have experienced rising up and moving through you informing all aspects of your being. It is as though you have drunk an elixir of warm liquid and you feel calm, centered and very much aware of all that is around you. You look into the cauldron once again and see that the waters are shimmering in reflection of the fire; their deeper mysteries cloaked until the next opening and parting of the veils. You rise up and feel more firmly anchored to the earth beneath and connected to the sky above. You turn away from the cauldron and look around at all that surrounds you.

One of the ancestors rises and approaches you. He takes a spark of flame from the hissing fire and holds it before you. He tells you that this is the spark of flame that is held within all living beings and that this flame is what fuels the desire to commune with him and other beings of his kind. It is this flame that opens you to the deeper mysteries you carry within and will warm and light your journey of introspection as the days grow darker and the winter chills the air. He bids you take a deep breath and pushes the glowing flame into the center of your being. There is no discomfort, just a rush of energy and the sense of acceptance and acknowledgment of like attracting like. Everything appears to glow more brightly now and as you look around at each of the faces of the ancestors you called to witness and guide this working, they come into crystal clarity. Take a moment to acknowledge each and offer up gratitude for their blessings and inspiration.

When you have completed this offering, you take a deep breath in and as you exhale the space around you fades. Each inhalation and exhalation dissipates more of the detail and energy of the space. You feel a lightness and exhilarated warmth moving through you and you know that this is a space you will revisit again at the next parting of the veils. You close your eyes and return to the space of being observer of the inner screen within your consciousness. You breathe deeply and think for a moment on your experience, recalling the images and words that were offered in answer. The last memories pass through and you sigh deeply into the next breaths. Each breath brings you back to the physicality of your being, the space in which you began this pathworking and the sounds of life around you.

May the blessings of this communion with your Ancestors carry you forward through the year to the birthing of new light and inspiration at Yule and beyond.

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30 Days of Samhain: Day Seventeen

Ancestor Altars
Pics, Ideas and More

Today’s post follows yesterday’s about Samhain and ways to honor our beloved departed ancestors. As promised, I have pictures of various ancestor altars to inspire you. Begin by realizing that whatever you decide upon as the space of holding your ancestors near and dear will become sacred space dedicated to them. Whether this becomes a permanent fixture or an annual event the intention and simply the act of constructing a space of honoring is an act of devotion. The creation of sacred space and what I described as an act of devotion are all things we are familiar with in terms of our interactions with Deity or celebrating a Sabbat. The same is true, and in my opinion, even more so, because we are calling the memory of our deceased loved ones in a dynamic way of engagement that transcends the separation of planes of existence.

The pictures I’ve selected are a very few samples of what this sacred space could become. The picture below gives you a sampling of items that could be incorporated into how you set-up your altar.

 

Remember:

The important piece to creating a scared space in offering to your ancestor is intention. The size of the altar does not really matter. Making use of furniture surfaces can be a space saver…

For some, incorporating pictures placed on the wall and then adding to this is a nice way to have more than what could be accommodated simply on a table alone….
You can also add to what is existing and permanent by including feast foods….

A temporary space will serve as well, such as a small end table that can be decorated in accord with the season, the beloved’s birthday, anniversary of death or any other time that you wish to do a little more….

Tip:

Simplicity does not mean lack of care. Some of the most meaningful ways I have honored my grandmother and mother have involved very little “stuff”, but were abundant in the love that moved through my memories and was returned in reciprocity by the nearness and reach of connection and gratitude I felt.

A mantle or a book shelf can be decorated and dedicated to your ancestor..

Tip:

It’s always a nice idea to add food as part of the celebration. Sitting and having your meal with the beloved’s place set affirms that they have not been forgotten, nor have the times when talking while enjoying a good meal were treasured times together…

And, always remember that the most precious of altars you dedicate to your ancestors is yourself. You carry all that is needed by them and yourself to honor them with every breath, step and action you take. Be mindful and grateful for those intangible, yet very palpable, gifts they have left as legacy to you. Call up the image of them often and surround that image with love, just as you may have done with a hug in physical life. Audibly say “thank you” when the seeds of inspiration or the solution to a problem seems to appear “out of thin air”. It may have been a beloved gently whispering encouragement.

All journeys lead back to the source of their origins. In this case, that source is all who came before you, just as you will become the source for those who follow..

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30 Days of Samhain: Day Sixteen

Who Are the Ancestors?

Samhain is particularly ripe with talk of the ancestors and honoring the dead and often is an integral part of the celebration. The term “ancestor” is used in different ways depending on the intention and your personal perspective. Today’s post is about who the ancestors are.

Generically, the term ancestors has come to mean those of your lineage, either biologically or culturally, who were at one time incarnate human beings. These are those from whom we claim a legacy in some way and if familial in nature, share the common thread of family history as well. These souls would also be known as ghosts or spirits of the departed. For this writing, this is how I will use the term ancestor.

The practice of honoring our familial ancestors has been around for aeons in one form or another. Sometimes that honoring spread out to be inclusive of an entire tribe or clan, each and every individual considered to be a familial ancestor; so deeply embedded was the energy of collective community and shared experience.

Every culture has its own ways of celebrating the departed, such as Dia de Los Meurtos in Mexico or Central America, Ari Muyang in Malaysia, Chuseok in Korea; Pitru Paksha in India or Obun in Japan. In each the central theme is one of remembering the legacy left to the living and setting aside a special time from the mundane and routine tasks to gift their ancestors with blessings, food, gifts and more. Some are single day events, others last for days on end and many of these practices are part of the funerary rites and extend into the daily activities; seeing the departed as always present in spirit.

These celebrations are joyous and reverent events that not only celebrate the human life of the individual, but often incorporate the journey of the Soul in its non-corporeal form. Masks, lanterns to light the way for the ancestors and grave side feasts are all part of thinning the veils between the living and dead and demonstrating that the dead have not been forgotten and are ever important to family and friends who benefitted by their life.

For many in the pagan community, Samhain offers opportunity to reach across these veils and sit in the company of their ancestors. These are some components that you may wish to incorporate into your Samhain celebrations:

  • Setting up an altar that contains pictures and things that were special to your beloveds in life. Perhaps a favorite cigar, candy, perfume, piece of jewelry, etc.
  • Wearing something that belonged to your beloved, such as a piece of jewelry, favorite sweater, etc…
  • Going to a special location that our loved one enjoyed such as a park, restaurant, museum, etc..
  • Setting a plate for your loved one at the table and offering a toast to their joining you for your Samhain meal. A more elaborate version of this is the Dumb Supper. Our coven has had Samhain celebrations that incorporated the Dumb Supper in it. All brought tokens of their loved ones and a picture. The picture was placed where each individual was seated. Drink was offered up to each loved one and the food was blessed in their honor. The entire meal was eaten in silence, listening to the conversations and words of the dead as they graced us, and when finished all left in silence carrying the memory of the experience out into the mundane world with them. It was a very powerful ritual and one that can easily be done for a family or just yourself and your loved one.
  • Dedicating a new experience or way of being to your loved one such as: being more mindful of your health in the coming year because that was a concern of your loved one for you or having a more positive attitude in honor of the beloved who always seemed to have a smile and kind word for you.

You may find that after trying some of these things during this season that you will want to keep a small (or larger) ancestor altar in your home in a special place. This becomes a place to interact with and routinely honor your ancestor year long. Whatever you choose to do, remember that we are who we are in part because of those who loved us (whether biological family or not). So don’t limit the thought of an ancestor only to those of biological heritage. That is only one piece of a more complex puzzle that is our human existence. And, at some point when that existence loosens its hold, we will become the most honored ancestor of those we love.

An excellent resource for learning more about the distinction between ghosts, Ancestors, the Mighty Dead and more:
Spirit Speak:Knowing and Understanding Spirit Guides, Ancestors, Ghosts, Angels, and the Divine by Ivo Dominguez, Jr.

The gorgeous image used is a piece of sculpture by Italian sculptor, Antonio Corradini! If this is not otherworldly, I don’t know what is…

Tomorrow: Ancestor Altar pics and Ideas…

Posted in 30 Days of Samhain | 1 Comment