|Homework: Think the Mighty Dead in your life. Do you remember stories that you like to tell? Does your family do anything special to commemorate those who have passed on? Do you think that your ancestors watch you? Consider how you think they would like to be honored. Write these things down in your Dedicant Notebook for future reference. Include some stories about your ancestors, maybe a photo or two.|
Also named the Mighty Dead, the Ancestors are not only the people genetically connected to our family (Blood-Kin) but also our close friends or lover (Heart-Kin) and the members of our religion (Hearth-Kin) and finally, the people who helped us understand through different stage of our life, like teachers, mentors and friends who made us learn about something (Mentor-Kin). In the ADF Dedicant Path: Through the Wheel of the Year Working Guide, the Ancestors are divided by specific categories:
- Blood-Kin: My Blood-Kin ancestors would be my direct family, my mother, my father, my sister and my brother. Now, all of these are still alive (and I’m very happy with that fact). I could not choose one person who died with who I had a strong connection.
- Heart-Kin: My best friend, at the moment, is my co-worker Tony, with which I spend all my breaks and diner time. He is the one who knows almost everything going on in my life and he’s helping me a lot! If I have to choose one ancestor who died in which I still have a strong connection, that will be without any doubt my grand-mother Nelly, who died when I was five years old only. I can’t add her in my Blood-Kin since she adopted my mother. Still, I have a very strong memory of her, and it seems that she always protected me along all these days since she died on March 9, 1986. During the days surrounding Samhain, I do rituals in her honor because I know that she still protects me and I had a very strong vision of her on October 31, 2013, when the veil of our worlds was at its thinnest.
- Hearth-Kin: I made many Pagans, Wiccans and Druids friends since 2013, and I visit many of them every week. We share a lot of passion together. Last weekend, I went on a Witchy shopping road trip with three of my Wiccans friends and we shared the most amusing moments together!
- Mentor-Kin: I had a college teacher with who I was strongly connected, Yves, and he died in 2002 from cancer. I don’t feel his presence very often, but I know he is still visiting me from time to time. He was a good mentor and I was profoundly sad when I learned about his death. Still today, my college friends and I always retold stories about him every time we reunite together!
I also had a very big connection with the dead during my teenager life, I was often visiting cemeteries to meditate or just relax, sitting on the grass. It was kind of macabre, but it was during daylight and it seemed right to me. I was also studying spiritism at the time, not in a way to have fun, but in a true will to communicate, learn and share experiences with them. I still have a grand respect for graveyards and cemeteries and every time I drive or walk near one of them, I have a thought about my grand-mother and all the people who died, resting in these places.
Respect for the ancestors is another core belief for Pagans. For many Wiccans, the Ancestors are worshiped and venerated mainly at Samhain, but for Druids and Wiccans with a Celtic or a Shamanic culture, the Ancestors are invited in every ritual, like the Deities. In my spiritual practice, I make sure to always invite the Ancestors and the dead while doing a ritual or a high day celebration. My hearth culture is Celtic Irish, and based on Ireland and Scotland history, during Samhain the dead were returning to the world of the living, and offerings of food and light were left for them. On the festival day, ancient people would extinguish the hearth fires in their homes, participate in a community bonfire festival, and then carry a flame home from the communal fire and use it light their home fires anew. This custom has continued to some extent into modern times, with Halloween, and I always celebrate Samhain with a special devotion to the Ancestors, and I decorate my home shrines with pictures and objects in skull shapes. I also honor the Milesians when I call upon the Ancestors. In the Lebor Gabála Érenn, a medieval Irish Christian pseudo-history, the Milesians are the final race to settle in Ireland. They represent the ancestors of the Irish people. Obviously, not all the ancestors on my altar are Celts. A ways that I found to honor ancestral spirits was to research my paternal family history. I draw up a family tree showing my ancestors and how they are connected to me. My mother was adopted, so I cannot do the same with the maternal branch of the family, but maybe someday I’ll know who my mother’s parents were. I also think about doing a DNA blood test to help me find genetic relatives and expand my genealogy research.
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