Who are the Ancestors and Going off Book:
When I light the three candles on my altar every night, I call to my Ancestors, to Spirit and the Elements. When I call to my ancestors, I call to them in three forms: the ancestors of my blood, my sprit and my land. This is based on the teachings of my grandmother, but my research over the years has shown that it is similar to other Shamanic paths. Now to me, Shamanic includes Voodoo, Druidism, Tibetan Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism, and the various other Aboriginal traditions. This speaks to something that I often will mention, which ties back to PSY101, Carl Jung, that is the concept of the collective unconscious working through spirit within us all.
Now to delve deeper on the ancestors. As I mentioned, when I call to the ancestors, I am calling to those of my blood, spirit and land. So how do I define this:
Ancestors of my Blood – Inform me
I am informed by my ancestral blood line, who for me are very much of the aboriginal energies of north, central and south America and the Fae energy of the Celts, both whom work with, animal energy and spirits of the elements, mountains, waters, etc. This animist, shamanic based energy is very very strong within me.
Whether we chose to follow the spiritual practices of our family or not, it is a living memory within us, and a sacred one which we should respect. We know that cellular memory exists, most of us who work with spirit and energy, know that this ‘cellular memory’ extends to spiritual DNA. This is what connects us to each other, globally and spiritually. My heritage is comprised of 8 nationalities. Each had their own spiritual beginnings and each of those informs who I am, both through my research into my heritage, but also in the vibrations of generations of spiritual practice.
For those, like myself, who also belief in reincarnation, the soul DNA or soul energy of those past lives, also speak to and inform our practices and callings. This is really important, because there seems to be some possessiveness with respects to someone who may ‘appear’ to not be of a certain culture, calling to the ‘deities’ of that culture. I find this incredibly narrow minded and against what spiritual practices are all about. I do believe, 100%, that if you do chose to integrate other ‘ethic’ practices into your own, that it should not be done from a self-serving direction, but with full research, intent and acceptance of what you have to sacrifice or provide to work with your deities of choice. Yes, you are required to offer sacrifice too! Working with Spirit is a symbiotic relationship, not one sided.
For example, the Hindu and Buddhist deities do pop up often on pagan, witchy altars. Unlike myself, most of the individual are actually calling directly to the deity through the vessel of the statue. The statue becomes a living representation of that god, goddess, what have you, on their altar. If you choose to do this, please respect the path that they originate from. For instance, know their creation story, know what foods offend them, and which appease them. Treat them like family, and don’t use them. For example, and I will do a video on Lord Ganesh, because I think knowledge needs to be shared… but if you work with Lord Ganesh, do you really understand what the concept of ‘removal of obstacles’ everyone automatically associates with him means? It may not be what you think. Since the example began with integration of Hinduism into pagan practices, I will give another example. Offerings and sacrifice. Do you eat beef or pork, and work with Hindu gods? If yes, it’s not a good idea. I would go so far as to say: Don’t. This energy goes against the energy of the Hindu path. Understand why. And respect it. This does not mean sneak a burger during your lunch break and then sit down in front of the altar with true devotion in your heart in the evening. Spiritual practices like ours, don’t just happen in front of your altar, it happens in how we live our lives. This actually ties into my 2nd aspect of the ancestors.
The Ancestors of Spirit – Guide Me
I never could connect to deity through statues. To me, statues are simply that. They hold the ability to help my very Pitta mind (that is an ayurvedic term, means always thinking, always active mind) through semi-active meditation. I have statues all over my home and they serve the purpose of creating not so much sacred space, as sanctuary. Picture walking through a beautiful garden, and seeing out of the corner of your eye, a Buddha statue, or any statue for that matter, and the almost automatic peace of mind that it conjures. So yes, I have statues, but no, I don’t work with them in ritual ways. I utilize them as a tool to focus my mind, and I then turn inward to meet with the Ancient one.
So then who are the deities to me? This is where we go really ‘off book’.
To me, deities are the ancestors of our Spiritual selves. The divine creator, whom I call the Ancient One, is vast and unending, and in this respect, can be very unknowing. Generations ago, across all lands, our ancestors created stories to represent aspects of the Great Divine. These became the Gods and Goddesses. In some paths I’ve found, mainly those of Shamanic birth such as Vodun, and Tibetan Buddhism, the Loa, or Buddhas were actually living descendents who became venerated and worshiped to the state they are today. Regardless of the culture, the gods and goddess have temperaments, likes, dislikes, favorite meals, colours scents. Just like family, like our ancestors. Just as we might have gone to one favorite uncle for advice on one topic, and another favorite aunt for advice on a different topic, we approach deity the same way.
When I speak about Deities on my website, or in my videos, my spirit and heart call to them as Ancestors. Not as something grander or external to me, but seriously, as spirit ancestors. When I do have a certain statue on my altar, it’s no more than having a ‘photo’ of an ancestor that I love and miss. I gently stroke the statue, just as I would the frame holding Mama’s photo, and I smile and feel a family connection on an energy basis. It is different than when I connect to the Ancient One/Source/Creator…. That connection is a knowing, and an emotional understanding of The Creator goes beyond gender, shape and form… but is pure light, and pure dark. Is all and is the void. And it resides both within me, and surrounds me. I do use the pronoun in the feminine, because that is what I am directed to do, but this will manifest different for each person as well. My take is different, but it may resonate with some of you, those who feel spirit, and seek spirit within, rather than without.
So when I do call on ‘deities’, to work with me, I am calling on my spiritual ancestors.
The 3rd aspect of the ancestors that I work with, are the ancestors of the land which I reside upon. Now what does this mean…
Ancestors of the Land – Sustain Me
In this aspect mama meant that you have to work with the energy of the place you reside. It is now your home, and the people whose blood lie in that ground you need to show respect to and be grateful for. The wealth of offerings that land offers you, should be acknowledged and respected.
A key example that I can give is based on a question that someone posted on a facebook group that I was on. She was living in India within the Southern Hemisphere, but of Caucasian background and followed a Wiccan path. To be honest, I don’t recall if she was Wiccan or pagan, but she was definitely following the witch’s year. It was the time of year for the Fall Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, which would be the call to Spring for her. But, she fought this. Wanting instead to hold onto her Northern Hemisphere celebration of the fall with all the traditional offerings. She asked the group for suggestions on what to do to celebrate the Fall Equinox, considering her circumstances. She couldn’t find wheat or gourds to put on her altar as she had been doing before her move… as all the books she read instructed her to. Someone suggested she print photos to represent these elements on her altar. Other’s suggested using clay and molding images of pumpkins and corn, etc.
My suggestion was to embrace the harvest of the place she is living in. I explained it the best I could as my grandma did to me. This is the land that is currently sustaining you. They have their own harvests which should be honoured. So, instead of gourds place coconut, instead of wheat, offer rice. I think I offended her. But to me, if she truly understood her path, she could go off book. Because this experience never left me, I decided to create this series for my youtube channel: “Witching off book”, and it is basically stressing the importance of being informed, doing your research etc., but then after knowing the fundamentals, then engaging your intuition, instincts.
The most important message I hope you take away from this post and the video, is that Pagan paths are animist in nature, they have to be fluid and adaptable, just as energy and life itself is. So go off-book, and find the truth in your path.
I hope you will check out the series on youtube (also posted below) and that some of my ideas will resonate with you.
May the ancestors of your blood inform you,
the ancestors of spirit guide you,
and the ancestors of the land sustain you.
Kayla Baboolal – your Shakti Shaman
In Balance, Namaste