The Realm of the Ancestors

When looking to the ancestors, we are turning to the oldest parts of ourselves, calling to those memories, images, stories, people and practices that define who and what we are. We are a product of our past, genetically, psychically and relationally. A wise teacher once asked, ‘Who are the male ancestors that have both inspired and challenged you? Who are the female ancestors that have inspired and challenged you?’ Who are those ancestors who have challenged and inspired you? You may have had an ancestor in the past that was somewhat of a scoundrel, who nobody wanted to associate with. Some ancestors might have embarrassed you or caused you to be ashamed. You may have grown up in a family that was poor and uneducated. You may have grown up in wealth, where pretense and taking advantage of others was commonplace or you may have had your life journey seeded among the intellectually elite. All of it is there for your learning and acceptance.

Some traditions equate our ancestors to old friends and important teachers of detachment because they have faced the process of death and have given themselves to the unknown. Many believe that ‘ancestors’ stand fully behind us ready to help and assist with our life dreams. Frequently these ancestors come in the nighttime, either just as we are going to sleep, or sometimes in the middle of the night. They may stand near the end or side of your bed, and ring a bell, or you may simply feel the strength of their presence near you. They have the wisdom of their earthly and heavenly lives and in most cases are more than willing to assist you with your life challenges and dilemmas. A council of wise Elders who are there to give you good advice about your lives, deeply invested in seeing that the ‘good, true and beautiful’ that is carried in our heritage is passed on to future generations. Ancestors may also be extended family and friends who are not related by blood. They may also be historical or mythological figures with whom you have a strong identity. In any event, take time during this week and visit the North to reflect on those who have contributed to your lives. Seek them out in your prayers and meditations. Invite them to join you as you continue to walk your earthly path. You may wish to speak directly to one or several of them to thank them for their gifts to you or to ask their forgiveness for differences that you had that were not reconciled before their death. Writing letters to them, living or dead is another way to be very concrete and direct about your relationship.

Anytime you do ceremony or simply give thanks, it is also good to employ the phrase, ‘All my relations’ as a way of honouring all those people and beings that have had or are now having an influence in your life. We are all teachers to one another and it is important that we remember this sacred relationship. Sometimes musical instruments are used to call the Ancestor Spirits. Click sticks are a good instrument because they remind us of the bones of our Ancestors. When we ‘click’ the sticks together, we are also signaling to ourselves and others that we are breaking the harmful family or cultural patterns that have been a part of our lives. ‘Oh may you be the one who will bring forward the good, true and beautiful in your family lineage. Oh may you be the one who will break the harmful family patterns or harmful nation patterns.’ An old European ancestral song When you turn to face your Ancestors and all that they are, you are turning to face yourself. When you do this in true humility and with an open heart, you are standing within the sacred hoop. You are seeing things for how they are and not for how you want them to be. You are in a place of honouring all that is; you are seeing and being seen ‘face to face.’ When you stand in the abode of the Ancestors you are standing in a sacred place. When you truly invite them in as teachers and as friends, you are also making sweet peace with yourself.

Barbara Meiklejohn‐Free is a healer, author, teacher and storyteller – all of which she employs in Barbara Meiklejohn‐Free imageweaving the ancient craft of the Shaman. Drawing on her extensive work with the Native American traditions, as well as those of many other indigenous cultures including her own Pagan heritage, she is a recognized expert in assisting people to explore the Calling, in vision questing, in performing initiations and in hosting ceremonies across the globe. Barbara has been communing with Spirit since the age of 12 and her work today is synonymous with integrity, authenticity and vision. Her no‐nonsense, hands‐on approach has helped thousands to reclaim their natural gifts through her many talks, readings, performances, seminars and residential workshops.

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Barbara Meiklejohn-Free
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