Thursday, June 2, 2011
The ancestors are more than just names on our family tree. They are the guardians and guides that shape our practice from the other side. They are our allies in magic and our protectors in spirit.
Although none can truly claim full knowledge of what happens to our spirits after our bodies expire, we believe that the spirit and the eternal soul continue on. The eternal soul flies from us to the shining realm of the ancients, the land of fey, Elphame, the isle of apples, Ynys Avalon, where it takes its repose. This expression of the soul lives in our bones, and it is for that reason that we honor our ancestors through the symbolism of bones. The spirit, an expression of our ego and “self”, may wander here for a time after death, creating the phenomenon we recognize as ghosts, or it may return to the source, the great cauldron, from which we are reborn anew.
Of special interest to us are the Mighty Dead. These are the dead that have returned to the cauldron and have retained themselves in whole (both spirit and eternal soul) through many lives. They are the great heroes and heroines of myth and history. Their influence shapes our world, and their guidance can teach us much.
We access the ancestors by honoring them in word and deed. The names we take are a litany of the generations before us. We make offerings to the dead throughout the year, and especially when the veil is thinnest at Samhain. We learn to tap the bone, to create communication with our guiding ancestors, through meditation and offerings.
The ancestors are honored at the center of the compass for our rites, by the skull placed at the foot of the stang.