This is really a follow on to my last post Spiritual Imprints which talked about Aboriginal beliefs and Dreamtime. I was asking myself the question ‘who are my spiritual ancestors?’ It is true to say that I do have an affinity with Aboriginal tribal culture and beliefs but just as much to Native American, Siberian, Celtic and other indigenous cultural beliefs, although the tradition I follow is that of my blood-ancestors The Celts.
Whether we believe we as a human race originated from one man and one woman, or evolved over many thousands of years, the fact is that we are all linked. Not just with other humans too but with other animals, plants etc. I’m not a scientist but I know that all things organic share genes, for example we all know we share 98% of our gene pool with chimpanzees and the great apes, we also share 46% of our genes with daffodils. In fact us humans share our DNA with everything and they with us…we are truly linked. If we are linked physically then to my mind it stands to reason we are linked spiritually. My own personal belief is that we humans don’t ‘have’ a spirit, we ARE spirits having a human experience but even if you don’t share this belief the fact that we share so much of our DNA with other organic beings is proof (at least to me) that we are linked.
So back to the question…who are our spiritual ancestors? I suppose the obvious answer is all those who have gone before no matter what their culture or race (and I include the plant world here too). Although I’m not an Aborigine, or a Siberian, or Native American, or Norse etc. I still have a link with these Peoples. I can still honour those who have gone before for the wisdom and knowledge they have shared. The same goes for the plant world, and I might even add the Stone People (mineral world) because as a shaman…All that is…is alive! So our spiritual ancestors are not merely those of our blood relations who have gone before but also an extended family of entities (both human, plant and rock), with whom we share common and deep links.
How can we show honour to our spiritual ancestors? Well, I think this is a personal thing but I always like to ask them how I can do this first. It’s like having a beloved member of your family – you buy a present you know they will like and value don’t you, you spend time finding just the right thing that will bring them joy. So I ask the Ancestors what they would like in order for me to honour them and then really endeavour to find whatever it is, even if it is just a picture of it. An example here is that I had one spirit who asked for Moose meat, which living where I do is impossible, so I honoured it with a photo of a Moose and it was perfectly acceptable to this spirit. I’ve found that if one makes an effort to be a bit original and creative the spirits enjoy this.
I build an Ancestor shrine, usually around the time of Samhain, but it could be at a time of year that is particularly resonant with you and whichever Ancestors you are honouring. The shrine can be as simple or intricate as you like – use your imagination and creativity. Add things that are meaningful to you and the Ancestors. I then smudge the whole area (I use a mixture of Yew and Juniper, or pine resin for this but you can use whatever cleansing and purifying herb you like) before lighting a special ancestor candle and saying a few prayers of thanks and blessing before I lay my offering on the shrine.
Finally I’d like to share with you a short prayer I wrote to the Ancestors, my kith and kin.
Blessings to those who have gone before
Whether flesh or fin, feather or green
I thank you for your wisdom and guidance
Down the ages, imprinted in my mind and soul
May the memory of you continue
May the honour of you continue
May the blessing of you continue
Accept my offering now and always
By Earth, Sky and Sea
So Mote it Be!