Now that Halloween (or Samhain – whichever term you use) is fast approaching, how more fitting to talk about other than ancestors? The closer we get to the 31st of October, the more emotional I feel, personally. If I am honest, this is very new to me as I have only started working with my ancestors a year ago exactly.
As a witchling, at first, I wasn’t sure I wanted to work with spirits at all. There were always a hundred reasons for me to not give it a go (or so I thought). All I heard of, were the things that could go wrong with working with spirits and this scared me a little bit, to the point where I stirred away from spirit-work all together. Unfortunately, this fear kept me from honouring my ancestors.
I now consider working with the ancestors to be a very crucial practice that should be adopted by anyone regardless of path. It’s a practice found in many (if not all) cultures. And not only it helps us connect with the deceased loved ones that we miss dearly, but it also helps us connect with our magic on a deeper level.
Now, I am not saying spirit work is all fluff and rainbows. Quite the opposite. I would consider it falling under the darker shades of magic – without that meaning it’s evil. But it doesn’t need to be something too complicated or something we should be afraid of.
One can start with honouring their ancestors, by just taking baby steps. No need for something too big. A simple candle in front of a picture of a deceased loved one with a glass of water by their side is all the start that’s needed.
Following the above, we literally do all that is needed to honour our ancestors. It’s very simple (all we need to make sure is we change the water every couple of days).
From then on, focusing on any subtle messages that come through can make all the difference. Their presence becomes more obvious to us. This is their way of trying to give signals and even though they are extremely subtle, they speak volumes (literally – it’s their way of trying to talk to us).
Now it’s time to open ourselves up and invite them to join us. The spirits of our ancestors care for us and all they wish is the best for us, guide us and protect us, just like when they were alive.
Going a little further would then be the designated space we set up for your ancestors – or as we know it, the shrine, or altar (or however you prefer to call it). It doesn’t have to be an entire wall in like we see in movies (who has that much space anyway?). I, personally, use one of the tiers of my very narrow desk. It’s not much of a space, but it is now their space – and it seems to be enough for them.
We only need to start small and then build it up from there by adding more pictures of more ancestors, flowers, decorations, things they would like. It’s best to let it flow rather than force it to make an aesthetically nice central shrine. It’s all about quality over quantity.
When we say “It’s the thought that matters”, in this case, it truly is all that matters, because it comes from the heart.
I don’t have time to light my ancestors’ candles and pray for them every evening. Sometimes work is taking such a toll that all I want to do when I get home is eat and rest. So I leave honouring the ancestors for the weekends.
There was a point where I found myself lighting the candles for the sake of it, but not much of a feeling was going into it due to how tired I was. I then made the conscious decision to honour them during the weekend where I have the time and energy to focus on them.
They all seem to be ok with that.
You see, it’s all about tailoring the practice to your needs and lifestyle and seeing how you are able to offer that energy to them. All your ancestors want is to get reconnected with you. And once we form a better relationship with our ancestors, we can then petition them for their aid.
Working with our ancestors is, in my opinion, one of the strongest forms of magic, because the love there is between ourselves and our ancestors strengthens the bond and in turn, the energy that is put into the work. Above all, respect is a virtue that must be upheld when working with not only our ancestors but with any spirits. It can be a rewarding practise but proceeding with the wrong incentive and lack of respect in witchcraft, in general, can have serious repercussions and spirit work is no exception to this.