Today (well, yesterday now, thanks to me taking too long to post – good going, Ag) is supposed to be the first day that the Pagan Blog Project goes down. I registered as a PBP blogger (#35 in this list), and I spent most of the last several days trying to figure out what I wanted to post about that started with A. Be grateful I didn’t subject you to an exposition on why my name is Agriakosos! (Agi will do fine, thank you very much.)
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there wasn’t any other “A word” I could start with besides one:
Everything we are, everything we do, involves ancestors. Even if we don’t want to acknowledge them (maybe they were cruel to us in life? maybe we’re adopted and we don’t even know who they are?), they are out there, and we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them. For good or for ill we all have ancestors, and thus they are the one constant in human life. We don’t even have to choose to have children – but we can’t opt out of parents. Voila. Ancestors. Congratulations. You have some.
Fine, you have ancestors. Now what do you do with them?
If you are like most neopagans I know, you probably don’t do anything with them at all, or you only deal with “ancestors” in terms of people you’ve known in life who are now dead. (Yes, those are ancestors, but hardly the only ones you have). I know, I know. There are too many shiny interesting gods and spirits and other Interesting Things to encounter that don’t require you to ask awkward questions of your family, or open any skeleton closets, or otherwise confront the messy reality that is Living With Other People On Earth.
Now don’t take this the wrong way, but: too bad.
Nobody said we were supposed to enjoy everything we do in our lives, and not everything that can be enjoyable or worthwhile or rewarding starts out that way. Put your Protestant fears of necromancy back in the box with the rest of your Christian baggage, and hear me out.
To know your ancestors is to know yourself. You are your ancestors. Not following me? Take it out of the spiritual realm for a moment and look at science. You can pay $99 (or only $79 this week!) to get your DNA tested to find out whether you’re Jewish, or a descendant of Abraham Lincoln, or even a surprise royal. That DNA? Is your ancestors. Living inside you. All the time.
You don’t have to believe in DNA or even pay it any attention for it to exist and to have an effect in your life. You can, however, embrace said DNA – said ancestors, if you will step out of the science booth and back into the altar room for a moment – to connect yourself better to your world in all its forms, past and present.
Having trouble connecting to that god or goddess? You’ve probably got an ancestor who worshipped Him or Her. Worried about having enough confidence to do something important? I bet you have an ancestor or two who overcame serious hardship to succeed at their dreams. Wishing you could get that new job, or that new car, or that new boyfriend? I KNOW you have ancestors who’ve wanted those things and more.
Why not set out a candle and some bread, maybe some water or some fruit or flowers or olive oil or something…and ask for helpful connections?
You don’t have to talk to the relatives who were terrible to you in life, or the ones who should’ve been locked up. If you have as many ancestors as I do, and I know that you do, there are bound to be plenty of them you can ask for help. Maybe they’d like to connect with you too. Maybe they have things to say. If you haven’t set out an ancestor altar already, do it.
And let me know how it goes. I bet we might be talking to some of the same people, so I’ll put in a good word for you.