“We’re all ghosts. We all carry, inside us, people who came before us.”
For a lot of Witches Ancestral Magick looks the same but for me, it’s a complex, layered, emotional aspect of the Craft that took me years to dive and tap into.
Ancestral Magick is just that; connecting with your Ancestors, honoring them, and working with them in a Magickal capacity.
There are some who center their practice around their Ancestors, others simply incorporate aspects of Ancestral Magick into their overall practice, and others who do not incorporate their Ancestors at all, for a variety of reasons, but primarily because they don’t feel connected; usually there are deeply rooted generational traumas in cases where the cord between us and the Ancestors seems severed (it can never be severed; hidden yes, severed, no).
We all have generational wounds, they affect us differently, so to compare one to the other is futile.
However, we must be aware of these differences, they are important.
Those of us of European descent who came here, willingly or unwillingly, and had our hand in colonialization will have entirely different wounds to heal and psychic debris to filter through than people who, for example, are a product of African Diaspora (Transatlantic slave trade as one example) , or the Indigenous People who were slaughtered upon our arrival.
I’m not here to discuss politics, but facts are facts.
Regardless of how we, personally, feel about what happened in the past, regardless that it happened in the past, it must still be owned, discussed and healed.
Part of that healing is bringing true human ugliness to the surface.
The Witch community needs intersectionality just like every other area of the human experience.
Personally, I believe that past lives play a huge role in who we are, and what we believe; for the sake of my sanity (Ie. I can only imagine the comments under a blog about that) and the integrity of this piece, I will keep the two topics separate, for now, and focus on Ancestral Magick in the true sense.
So, before I venture too deeply into territory where there is no turning back, let’s talk about what my Ancestral Magick is/looks like.
My Maternal lineage is Scandinavian (Dane, Norse), Scot-Irish, with a splash of French-Canadian.
My Paternal lineage is Polish and Italian. Slavic folklore was huge growing up; Stregheria was something I had to research on my own.
Therefore, history plays a pivotal role because we need to know about the conflict among our Ancestral lineage; this conflict is important to understand, on both sides.
Especially if you plan on using your Ancestors in a Magickal context.
The dead are tricky to work with in general, they have minds of their own, and we as Practitioners are responsible for finding a dynamic that works for all parties involved.
I’m sure some of you reading this are thinking I am out of my mind right now, but am I?
Have you personally not yet discovered that, for example, some Spirits and/or Deities prefer not to work together? They don’t like to have parts of their Altar next to so, and so? They request not to be evoked or conjured when another is present?
I have learned the hard way, the funny way, and the disastrous way that Spirits and Deities have “conflict” among them—by conflict I mean, the energies don’t compliment each other.
It’s the same with our Ancestors—the love they have for us is not enough to squash some of the beef that they have with each other, trust me. Particularly if you, like myself, are deeply connected to Ancestors from way, way back.
I keep an Altar dedicated to the dead all year long, not just during Samhain.
On my Ancestral Altar there are representations of Death in all forms, offerings, and tokens of my loved ones; I honor my Great-great Grandfather by having his Masonic books there, I honor my Grandmother with a broach of hers, etc.
Most importantly I honor my Ancestors in the foods I eat, the movies I watch, the books I read, how I believe, the way I live my life and who I am as a person; Ancestral Magick is not just about how we honor them in a Magickal and Practical setting, it’s about how we honor them in our day to day, mundane lives, too.
I feel most connected to the Grandparents who raised me (my parents were present, but both worked).
My Grandfather was first generation Polish-American, and a WWII Vet; my Grandmother was first generation Polish-German American, and they both hold huge chunks of my heart.
We are not connected by blood, though.
Yet they come through so strongly.
You see, my Father was adopted by a Polish family, but other than him being half Polish and half Italian, we don’t know much else.
When I connect with my Ancestors, it’s a pair of Vikings (how cliché, I know; they’re farmers by trade, warriors by choice, sworn to Odin and use the Valknut as their calling card) and my Grandmother who come through the strongest—Gramps kind of goes where Grams does, so he’s around, too.
During one Samhain Ritual, the entire Paternal side came through, and by that, I mean, ALL the Aunts, Uncles, etc. Most of whom were either already passed, or very old by the time I was even born.
They show up and show out for me whenever called upon.
For a lot of people, they don’t have the luxury of knowing their background, so connecting to Ancestors can seem like a daunting, and painful experience.
But, anything worth having is worth working for.
Ancestral Magick is powerful Magick; Ancestors even more powerful allies.
I have found Ancestors that will do anything for me because they love me, others who will do anything for me because they like discord and conflict, others who are mischievous and some who are just gentle healers and teachers.
Ancestors are not just those who we are connected to by blood, they are the people and Spirits who made us, guided us, and showed us the way; the people who raised us, the people whose hands helped heal and hold us.
“Walking. I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my Ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”
How much truth in that “emotional”… blood line is strong, but soul line too.
So glad that you wrote this blog about Ancestral Magick which is one of my very favourite topics in all Witchcraft and various Occult & magickal practices.
I too honour all my ancestors year round. I often find that many witches & occultists of all types often think it’s a bit weird for me to even have an ancestral altar year round, unless it’s Samhain of course. For me it would be “weird not to honour those whom came before me year round” because my ancestors have always been sacred to me and those in my family.
Just as you know it’s incredibly empowering and wonderful to work with and acknowledge our ancestors always. Whether it is for spiritual & magickal purposes, life guidance, remembering their love, their lives legacies, their sacrifices, along with all the mundane things that we all take for granted in life as well.
It’s such a great thing to feel them, smell them, sense them, hear them and occasionally even see them. I have two particular ancestors whom are able to come through whenever they want to quite easily. They are both always there to guide me and always help me to live a better life. Not just for me but for my children and grandchildren also. They watch over all of us always! For that we love, remember and revere them even more.
Of course there are many other ancestors that I may only sense or feel once a year or so. Because just like us the disincarnate are all so different of course regardless of our various bloodlines. I agree with you that some of our ancestors whom are not of our blood can be just as empowering as our own are. If they loved us in life, it just makes sense that they will continue to love and guide us from the other side.
Quite often we can get to know our ancestors in such amazing and incredibly different yet synchronistic ways. Which is quite the paradox for most people to understand unless they start connecting with their own ancestors for themselves. However for me it’s a fact of life, that I continue to live with much love and respect for all of my ancestors always. Just as you do for yours too!
Blessed Be & Namaste🙏🏻
Thank you so much for writing this! I find that I am being called to work even deeper with my ancestors than I have so far and to heal the bloodlines, but it is a very emotional thing to dive into because I am adopted. Although I am not genetically related to my father, I am presenting with the same illnesses and it is difficult to process these feelings of how to heal myself and the bloodlines when we aren’t related biologically and I don’t really know who my ancestors are genetically. This has really helped so much! Thank you!