ANCESTRAL MAGICK: More Than Blood

Ancestor

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“We’re all ghosts. We all carry, inside us, people who came before us.”

Liam Callanan

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.

Well, kinda.

Stars

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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.

 

Ripple 2

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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.”

Linda Hogan

Dealing with the Dead: The Three Main Types of Hauntings

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Image: Marian D’Angouleme

 

“Be hole, be dust, be dream, be wind

Be night, be dark, be wish, be mind,

Now slip, now slide, now move unseen,

Above, beneath, betwixt, between.”

Neil Gaiman

Besides being asked about what Luciferianism is, and basic defensive/protection Magick, the number one question I am asked is my take on ghosts, Soul Wounds, hauntings, and other such phenomena. I think people’s fascination with death and the supernatural are inherently human, and usually stems from a place of childlike curiosity, unknown Magickal talent or something as big as an existential crisis.

I mean what else would make you question yourself, your inner world and the collective world at large to such a degree other than an encounter with a ghost, or Spirit?

Answer: Not much.

I have had Second Sight since I was a child, and it first manifested in the ability to see the dead; this was an ability that I wanted nothing to do with, and at such a young age I was often paralyzed with fear at the Spirits whom would enter my room at night. By the age of 7 I was able to see Spirits at all times, it did not matter if I was asleep or awake; that summer in particular I had a very hard time distinguishing between the living and the dead, as if the veil between the worlds didn’t exist. My sight grew, morphed and changed as I did and I am now able to See so much more. I know that some question my Seership abilities, and others like myself, that’s fine because I do not seek approval, nor do I care about opinions.

When push comes to shove my experience and talent speaks for itself.

I do not claim to be an expert at anything in the Craft, or life in general. I honestly consider myself a novice at all things; perhaps some of this is me being too modest or refusing to give myself the credit I deserve, maybe it’s even some insecurity. All I know is that I have been gifted with knowledge about how the other side works and I want to share it with you, my readership.

I think talking about this topic will clarify a lot, and may even help some of you understand the hauntings or Spiritual activity you have dealt with in your own life. Hell, some of you may even find what I have to say to be in line with your own belief; if that’s the case, awesome, if not, that’s cool, too.

I don’t want you to think like me, I just want you to think.

Speaking of thinking, when people think of ghosts they just think that it’s a “dead person” who “hasn’t found the light” but they are so much more than that. I am going to try and break down the different types of hauntings and reasons for the Spirit being bound to this plain.

Let me get a few things out of the way first to help you understand my viewpoint: I believe in reincarnation, I believe in ascension after our Soul’s purpose has been fulfilled and our karmic debt is paid. I believe the Soul is energy, and energy never dies; it also has no gender, it is not all light, or all dark but an all-encompassing life form that is like a computer of memories and knowledge. I believe in reality that the lines between this world and the next are not really there at all, and the veil is yet another illusion.

So, what causes a ghost to stay or a haunting to occur?

I am going to answer this from a few different angles because it is such a complex answer, and question really.

There is usually a trauma or unfinished business that becomes like chains on the Soul, binding that piece (from a particular incarnation) here to this plain. Most severe traumas cause a Soul Wound which in turn causes a fragmented Soul. A fragmented Soul is just that, fragmented. The piece can return on its own, and often does when the healing is complete. You can send for a Shaman, Witch or other Healer to call the piece back through ritual, or you can do it yourself; doing it yourself is always the best option, however, most people don’t know they are a fragmented Soul; they don’t know that the addiction they have is from a missing piece, they don’t know the cycle of abuse they find themselves in is from a bleeding wound in the Soul, most people just don’t know. So, they walk around broken, bruised, and beaten until they are forced to go within and see the damage that has been done. In most cases by the time one finds out the piece is missing, they are already dead.

You can exist here in 2016, in whatever form you have chosen and have a piece of your Soul haunting, or stuck somewhere else and I think this is the biggest revelation people have when I talk about my theory. Those feelings of déjà vu, those memories of places you have never been but can describe to a tee, or the phobias that come out of nowhere are not always from past lives; some are current memories because the Soul is still living or playing that scenario out. No, I am not saying that all hauntings or ghosts are pieces of living Souls now, but some are and that is really important to point out.

The next time you have a flashback, or feel a pull to do something or go somewhere that makes no sense whatsoever, I want you to stop and really think about it because nothing is coincidental, it’s all relative.

There are three common hauntings which are: Ancestral, Residual and Poltergeist.

Ancestral hauntings are usually attached to places, people and/or objects. The most common type of Ancestral haunting is Native (Indigenous) burial grounds (how cliché, I know) and other Sacred sites. When disturbing Sacred sites there obviously is a risk of pissing off the Spirits, and in many cases they are in fact, pissed off. Sometimes it depends on if the disturbance was intentional or not.

There have been stories of bad luck, hauntings, even possessions since the raids of Temples began in places like Ancient Mesopotamia, Greece and the Pyramids of Giza; not to mention the Temples of the Mayans and Aztecs and these are just a few examples. These types of disturbances can lead to Poltergeist activity, and I will address that in more detail down below.

In many cases when an Ancestral Spirit is angry it is simply a matter of offering something to them, and striking up a bargain, for lack of a better term. I personally believe that a Healer or person from the particular tribe/lineage associated with the land/site should always be called upon to bless such places and Spirits before desecrating anything. I mean, ideally I would like us as a species to not destroy places with such meaning, but that may be asking for too much from our greedy society.

In other cases, a Spirit will become bound to a person because they feel obligated to protect them. It could be a family member they have met that passed too soon, or one that died before they were even conceived. There is rarely violence involved with this type of guardian-like connection; usually a familial Spirit is there to assist, not harm. An Ancestral Spirit (or Spirit in general) can become attached to a photo, heirloom, favorite toy, piece of jewelry or other sentimental item. Again, usually no malice is intended. If you encounter such a haunting the best suggestion is to acknowledge the Spirit, lay down your rules, and tell them they are welcome to stay or move on. You should always encourage them to move on by helping them finish whatever it is they think needs to be done, but you must remember that even in death the human Soul has free will, and we cannot force them to do anything.

The next type of haunting is Residual. These are Spirits who are reliving an event (not necessarily traumatic) or particular scenario over, and over and over again. In most cases they do not even know they are dead, and can become quite mischievous; though, they are not usually harmful. A residual haunting is usually accompanied by strange odors in the air, such as perfumes or cigar smoke and temperature fluctuations. At times full body apparitions can appear but that is normally a much stronger Spirit whose intentions become questionable because they are either out to harm or are desperate for help.

The strange odors and cool breezes usually happen when you, the living human, cross paths with the dead human. The Spirits effected by residual hauntings are almost always bound because they have unfinished business, or they feel that they were taken too soon and have chosen to stay in that particular incarnation, refusing to accept their death, even though the world and part of their Soul (potentially) has moved on.

In these types of cases you want to try and encourage the Spirit to move on just like you would with the Ancestral Spirits but this can be much trickier because these are Souls who are determined to carry on as they are, for whatever reason. The best course of action is usually to just allow the Spirit to live side by side with you and your family, as long as no harm is done. When they are prepared to move on, they usually will go on their own.

The last type of haunting is probably the most notorious and the most violent out of the three and that is Poltergeist activity. A Poltergeist is a Spirit whose primary means of telling us they are around is by knocking, clicking, tapping, or moving objects. Sounds harmless enough, right? It can quickly turn ugly when crossover marks appear, which is common among this type of activity. These are marks such as bruises or scratches that appear, usually during sleep, and allow the Spirit to feed off the target. It also allows the Spirit to manipulate their target if they choose to do so.

It takes a great amount of energy to manifest onto the physical plain and manipulate objects, or harm a physical body. In most cases a Poltergeist is a collection of Spirits either because of a mass trauma, burial site, or a portal/vortex. There are rare instances when a poltergeist is just one Spirit and this is where the game changes. In this case it is either a Daemonic energy, or a human who was an absolutely vile person and whose life and subsequent death has left a physical imprint on a particular piece of land/home/property. A good rule of thumb when dealing with hauntings is that once objects are being moved about violently, or once crossover marks appear, you are not dealing with Casper anymore.

In many cases Poltergeists will disguise themselves as mundane, benign energies when they are anything but. They also like to choose the most open individuals which usually end up being children or Sensitive people like an Empath, or budding Witch. Always be mindful of who you are inviting in and/or allowing to stay. If it doesn’t feel right, banish the energy. Period.

As complicated as life is, death is equally complex; the human Soul does not die, it merely changes form and in some cases that form is stuck living in a world within a world, side by side with us, rarely being acknowledged. Can you imagine that feeling? There are many levels, intricacies and so many questions that arise when dealing with Spirits and death that it is almost too overwhelming to think about.

I think this is a perfect time to mention that I absolutely believe there are tortured Souls who exist in a place I refer to as “The Gray” and I believe they will never find peace and they will never move on. I set intentions or prayers, if you will, that those Souls find the strength to comes to terms with their death and find the solace they so desperately need.

We are so caught up with the fear of death that we don’t realize the dead live among us, they live through us, they live beside us, just as they always have; just as they always will.

I find that to be a far more terrifyingly fascinating thought than mere death itself.