Home > Ancestors, Prayer, Religion, Spirituality > Working with Christian Ancestors

Working with Christian Ancestors

When I last gave a workshop, and when I talk with others on the subject of Ancestor worship and veneration the topic of Christian Ancestors comes up.  I have had to confront it in my own work time and again.

So what do you do?  If your Ancestors were abusive and you cannot talk to them, whether religion was involved or not, work with someone older than They, or closer to you.  You do not have to work with abusive, or formerly abusive Dead.  After Odin, the first Ancestors who made Themselves known to me were ancient ones.  Then my much more recent Dead began turning Their heads to me.  For other people their most recent Dead might grab ahold of Them first and ask to talk with them.

1)  Establish Contact

Whether using an Ancestor altar, such as a white cloth with a candle and a glass of water, a rosary, a photograph, a picture of a coat of arms, or something else from your Ancestors, even just your breath, establish contact.  It can be as elaborate as a full ritual to honor and invite Them to share your life, or it can be as simple as a spoken prayer or a hello or a cup of coffee.  At least once a week make contact with the Ancestors, and take care during the week to especially contact the Ancestors that want your attention.

Perhaps an Ancestor had a favorite prayer, or enjoyed a psalm or song.  Perhaps that is, for your work with Them, ‘Their’ song.  As with other Ancestors, learning a favorite dish They enjoyed, or other offering may be the key to hearing Them, or feeling Their Presence in your life.  Sometimes just getting a name from a relative, or doing your own genealogical research is the key you need to establishing contact.  For myself, I wear Ancestral prayer beads, among other necklaces, that I carry with me wherever I go, and I now carry a red New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs book at my Ancestors’ request.  Listen as best you can, do what research you are able, and give space in your life to hear Them, whatever road you come to Them by.

2) Ask for a Representative

When my Catholic Ancestors began to pipe up the first thing I asked for was a go-between, an Ancestor who would help to cut down on the ‘noise’.  This is very likely going to be a Disir, a powerful female Ancestor, or a Vater, a powerful male Ancestor.  Sometimes our Ancestors can give us contradictory requests or confusing divination answers because there are so many Ancestors clamoring for a spot to be heard.  A Disir or Vater can help get your Ancestral ‘House’ in order, and give some semblance of organization,  if not overt organization; some of my German Ancestors seem to like things “NEAT UND TIDY!”

Remember, many of our Ancestors have had silence rather than regular offerings for quite a while.  Even if you do not ‘hear’, ‘see’, etc. or are completely ‘headblind’, asking for a representative voice for the group(s) of your Ancestors can help divination sessions, mediumship work if you go that route, and give better signal clarity on what is desired overall from and for you.

3)  Determine Boundaries

What do you feel you can actually deliver on?  This is something to be mindful of with every Ancestor, but especially with those who may ask things of you, particularly if They were Christian.  In my case my Catholic Ancestors like it when I read from the Bible, or sing Psalms or church songs to Them.  Where do I draw the line?  Taking Communion for one, particularly because I no longer can say the Nicene Creed, and I would be lying to the Church, which dictates you must be a believer to receive Communion, and I imagine Christ and Yahweh in the bargain.  Given all that, I would have to refuse if an Ancestor wanted me to take Communion.  Would I step foot in a church again?  Certainly.  I still have Catholic family members who may well be married in a church, and I would be in attendance.  I also had a very, very good, gentle, and wise holy man for a priest, and it would be a real treat to meet the good Father again and see how he is doing.

4)  Gebo

Gift for a gift.  When I do my prayers for my Catholic Ancestors or read a passage I do it so They are happy, They are near, and as a gift to Them.  They give me the gift of Their Presence, Their happiness, and I can hear Them clearer.  I have also found the little New Testament They asked me to carry around with me to be a source of contact with Them; all I have to do is shut my eyes, let the pages flow along my fingertips till I feel the urge to stop on a page, then let my index finger find a word or passage.  The meaning so far has been pretty clear, especially since I read the Bible quite a lot as a child.

Not all of the requests our Ancestors make are easy; certainly, many of my Catholic Ancestors wished I attended Mass once again.  Some have fallen out of that, with Death having given Them a wider perspective.  While I will not meet all Their requests, my Catholic Ancestors seem to be pleased with things as They are, and more willing to lend Their hands to what needs doing in my life.  Doing this, for me, provides a bridge back to Ancestors I thought would have abandoned me, or at least would have remained largely hands-off.  While some still do, a great many express a renewed interest in working with me, in hearing me and answering.  How can I do less?

I may no longer worship my Catholic Ancestors’ God, but I can show respect to Them, honor Them in word and deed even if my lips never uttered another song or verse.  Perhaps your experiences with Christianity and/or its adherents were so abhorrent that they left deep scars.  My way of doing things would not be for you.  Perhaps in that case asking your Disir and Vater to calm or explain things to your Christian Ancestors, so that old wounds are not reopened is best.  These are, like all relationships with the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits, between Them and you.  Above all, give Them the time and space where you are wholly concentrated on Them, whether They raise Their voices or otherwise make Themselves known, or not.

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  1. October 24, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Once I got past my initial worry about the Catholic parts of working with my Ancestors (which was mostly my own issues with Catholicism, I personally found that most of them don’t really seem to have an opinion on it. My Great Great Grandmother was particularly devoted to St. Joseph, and requested a statue of him. She used to have a St. Joseph’s altar every year and have their priest come by and bless it. I’m planning to sponsor one this year for Her (and probably do much of the cooking myself if I can). Since its about feeding the poor and feasting for St. Joseph, I’m hoping the local anarchist space which sponsors weekly hot meals for those that need it would let me sponsor and additional one. (traditionally one would have it in their home and invite everyone who wants to eat to come in, but I’m in a tiny apartment!)

    I find they are far more concerned about their initial lack of being remembered – no one else in the family actively works with our Ancestors, and on my mother’s line, I’m one of the last ones; the oldest of all the grandchildren. I’ve become the repository for their Saint icons and jewelry from the old country.

    They are more concerned about my lack of baby-making than with my being a Heathen and not going to church – thankfully both my sisters are planning to have kids so I can nudge them that way and point out there will be grandkids, just not from me. The only thing they’ve really wanted related to going to church is for me to cover my head when I need to go.

    • October 24, 2013 at 10:19 pm

      I am in much the same boat, being the only one who actively works with my Ancestors in my blood family, while my other half is the only one in her blood family that we know of that works with her Ancestors.

      *nods* Some of my Ancestors would like me to go to Mass with the folks, but I have not done that yet. Hmm. Also been getting pushed to get an icon of St. Francis de Assisi for a little while now.

  1. October 11, 2013 at 2:51 pm

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