Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ancestors - Part Three

Release Work for the Ancestors

As I mentioned in Part One, back in the mid-1990s my focus was very much on the ancestors. I had begun to have dreams and experiences concerning my own ancestors, but also “the ancestors,” in general. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of many sad, desolate, and somewhat hungry ghosts wandering around. I had a sense that many of the ancestors—my own included—were not properly at rest, or able to go on to their next step, because they had not had proper death rites done for them. They wanted recognition; they wanted appreciation; they wanted to be mourned; and they wanted death rites done for them. I journaled these dreams and realizations, and worked with them in my magical group and on my own during the season of Samhain.

A couple years later, my good friend Mariposa had a powerful dream wherein she was part of a ritual being done for the ancestors. As she described the dream to her husband, he knew immediately that this was more than a dream, it was something they were being told to do.

Mariposa set November 11th —Old Samhain—as the date for this ritual and invited me to participate along with several of her other friends. Although she had some basic ideas for the ritual, she felt that the participants should co-create it, so we each contributed our ideas and thoughts during the planning process.

The pieces that I brought to this particular ceremony were ones that came to me quite strongly as I thought about the ritual and remembered my recent dreams and experiences. I had a strong hit that the ancestors must be thanked for their lives, as well as acknowledgement given for all they had accomplished in their lives. I felt they needed to be appreciated as individuals, not just as ancestors. I had an equally strong hit that we must grieve for them—for all the sorrows, tragedies, and disappointments of their lives, and all their unfulfilled hopes and dreams. And this was to be done in a ceremonial way.

I also had a very strong sense that there were some ancestors who were still earthbound, to one extent or another, and that the way to solve this was—after the thanking and grieving parts of the ritual had been done—to ceremonially release them from the power of the Four Elements. The Elements, after all, are what constitutes our physicality. When someone passes away they pass out of the realm of the Elements and into the realm of Spirit. But if they were not at peace when they passed—due to, perhaps, unfinished business, strong emotions, or a host of other things—there’s a chance that these things might keep them tied to the earth, the physical realm, and the land of the living. This is not good. So when someone suggested we dance at the end of the ritual, I knew we could use this dance to release the elemental connections.

All of these pieces—the thanking, the grieving, the release of the elemental connection—were included in the final version of the ritual.

We began, some months before the ritual, by journeying inward to find ancestors and/or ancestral lines that wanted to be worked with in this way. We spent time trying to learn as much as we could about them—their lives, their cultures, their times—and we resurrected old family stories about these ancestors, or the lines, so that we could share within the context of the ritual.

On the appointed date, November 11th, we all gathered at Mariposa’s home. We began the ritual with a Feast for the Dead—a specially prepared meal eaten in silence at a table that had places set for the ancestors. After this we robed up and began the ritual itself. After calling in the Elemental and Directional powers, we invoked the goddesses of these particular ancestors, as well as power animals related to the culture or the particular ancestors. Then, one by one, we told their stories, which, to my surprise, proved unexpectedly emotionally wrenching. We thanked the ancestors, sent them our love and appreciation, and we keened for them. That too was very powerful; sound is a very potent way to move emotional energies. And we sang our Journey Songs for them, to guide them on their way to the Otherworld.

As the ritual drew to a close we began a circle dance, stopping in each direction to release any elemental bonds that might remain for them. This was an extraordinary experience for me. When we began the Feast for the Dead I felt like the ancestors were able to taste the food I was consuming, through me. I was very aware of them. And when we danced at the end I could literally feel the elemental bonds that held them—I could feel them within my body, as if I carried these bonds for them—and found myself consciously moving in a manner that shook those bonds loose, broke them, and let them slide off.

At the very end we did a bigger elemental release, one that dissolved the elements into one another and back into their primal source< The salt, representing the earth element, was poured into the water. The water was poured into a larger bowl of water which was eventually poured onto the earth outside. The sage representing the air element was burned, released into the air to disperse into the atmosphere; the fire element was released by extinguishing the candles.

When the ritual was done we went outdoors and jumped into Mariposa’s hot tub. It was a very cool, misty night. Above us, the waning moon peeked through the clouds. As I relaxed into the hot water I heard a strange, distant honking sound. I opened my eyes and looked upward, and saw, far above me, wild geese winging their way southward.

I was immediately reminded that it was Old Samhain, the time of the Wild Hunt, when the Lord (or Lady) of the Dead rides the night sky sweeping up the souls of the dead—who often take the form of wild geese or swans—gathering them up to take them to the other world.

I pointed upwards to the geese, noting this to the others. The ancestors were on their way home. It was a perfect ending to a perfect—and very powerfully magical night.



Blogger Janina Renée said...

Hello Margie! I enjoy your insights into the Ancestor World, and want to contemplate them further. Before I make further comment, I need to test to see if this will accept my password, because I've been having problems with that--BB Janina

10:05 AM  
Blogger Janina Renée said...

Hi Margie--great insights into the Ancestor World. I have copied your posts so that I can contemplate them further. Have you had any DNA testing done? My M-DNA (mitochondrial DNA) is Clan Ursula, and Ed's is Clan Tara. The clans were named by Bryan Sykes for his "Seven Daughters of Eve" research,and I believe there is synchronicity in the naming, just as there was synchronicity in the naming of planets such as Uranus and Pluto, even though they weren't named by astrologers. The M-DNA energizes the cells with oxygen, so it very much affects a person's energy level and can be used in healing visualizations. For example, if I need more energy, I could visualize millions of energetic little bears, and Ed could visualize air moving through millions of little Celtic wind harps. Also, regarding your comment on how Otherworldy beings don't necessarily always view us as individuals but more as part of our families, that has some bearing on my experimentation with the Frouds' Faery Oracles and Mason-Franklin Fairy Circle cards. For my Triple Goddess workshops, I do Ancestor World readings for Lammas, and one of these involves identifying faerie types that have been associated with your family, and whose attachments could manifest as inherited talents, or even in the nature of a "family curse." Have you noticed any repeating themes in your own family that could be viewed as gifts or curses? BB-Janina

10:22 AM  

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