What is the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word ancestor? Does it arouse memories of a grandparent, or perhaps of a familial image much more in the distant and forgotten past? For most of us living in this modern and dominant culture, we rarely hear much about the significance of our ancestry and even less about the importance of ancestral reverence and remembrance.
How many of us can remember the names of our great-grandparents? What about great great-grandparents or those in our lineages a 100 generations back? How many of us feel deeply connected to the place and the land in which we were born? It is becoming increasingly rare for families to remain in one place for more than a generation.
We no longer tend to the land season after season or live in a way that we acknowledge our interdependence with the land, the elements, or the cyclical aspect of experiencing time. We have become scattered across the landscape as we are encouraged to leave home, attend educational institutions that will in-debt us, and to move once again to find a “good” job that will allow us to keep ourselves busy enough that we do not notice the types of trees and plants that live among us.
Many Of Our Elders Have Also Forgotten
Where are we encouraged to gather our stories, and to learn the old ways? Seeking out wisdom from our elders has been replaced by Google. But long before that, we demoted them because they too were not encouraged to listen to the wisdom of their grandparents. At some point, we shifted to only look ahead, to what was new and modern, to the things that would make our lives more efficient, not knowing what we were giving up in the process. This gap grows larger with each generation. But it is not too late to mend this gap, it begins with us.
The Human & More Than Human Ancestors
We have many ancestors, familial, spiritual lineage, land, animal, plant, and element. Looking back, I have always been guided to connect with what is known as the past, that which becomes history, memories, and buried time. While I have spent significant time being curious about my genealogy and familial lineages, it was my experience engaging with what scientists refer to as Deep Time.
Deep Time is pre-human, it is primordial and ancient. Connecting with the land in New Mexico, what many would refer to as a desert landscape I have gathered sea shells, fossilized mammal bones, and petrified wood. To hold these Deep Time beings in my hands transported me into a sacred connection with our most distant ancestors. When I spend time with the land I now know that I am speaking with the Spirits of the land throughout all of time. These ancestral origins became a new portal I could access to connect with all my kin.
When one portal opens to connect us with our ancestors, others begin to appear as well. Which one will you start with?
Familial (Blood) Ancestors
Our familial ancestors are those who we know as our grandparents, our great grandparents, and beyond. If you could peek into the realm of our human ancestors you would marvel at a sea of souls that have endured great struggles, laughter, wonder, oppression, and everyday life.
Our human ancestral lineages reach back more than 200,000 years. We are here now, in our modern world of conveniences (and losses) because of them. It is such a gift that we now have access to seek out our lineages so easily through genealogical research and DNA analysis. Although we can only go so far with our research and genetic understanding, it is another portal from which we can begin to know who we are, and where we came from.
If you have grandparents who are still living, I encourage you to spend time gathering as many names and places they can recall. This will be immensely helpful when doing genealogical research, and more than that, hearing the stories from the voices of your elders is a gift that one day will not be available to you.
Spiritual Lineage Ancestors
The spiritual lineage ancestors are those who are not blood related but are connected to us through their teachings. These are the ancestors that can offer us guidance and wisdom along our chosen path of spiritual development. As you carry forth the knowledge and wisdom of what they had taught, you keep their memory and work alive and vibrant in this realm.
These ancestors may also be those teachers who are not specifically teaching a spiritual or healing discipline but a skill-based teaching such as a dancer, a woodworker, or a gardener. These teachers often acquired their craft through apprenticeship and years of practice. Their knowledge and wisdom continues to pass to others who then pass this on to the next generation. These ancestors can continue to guide your craft as you call upon them and make offerings to remember them.
The land in which you live holds the spirit of the ancestors who lived here prior. The land, as animate and sentient, is also your ancestor. Our more than human ancestors are as many as our human ancestors. There is much to learn from listening to the land as she offers the most ancient wisdom, and has been witness to the prolific growth and death of all beings. The land ancestors have an intimate relationship with the elements and can help us learn to become better stewards of the Earth. Our most distant and indigenous ancestors knew that we were inseparable from the Earth. One of the profound ways to engage with this ancestral language is to begin cultivating an intimate relationship with the land.
Our animal and plant ancestors are the ancient ones, the ones who hold our primordial stories. Our being, and our evolution is housed within their psyche and spirit. They have been listening patiently to the cyclical forces far longer than we have. If we are willing to call them in, to actively listen and gather their wisdom, and honor their knowledge they will undoubtedly continue to guide and support us.
Why Connect With Your Ancestors?
Our ancestors are the roots of our psyche and the tether to our understanding of who we are and where we are going. Because many of us were not raised to acknowledge or honor our ancestors as a daily practice, we often easily dismiss their significance in our lives. When we tend to our ancestors we tend to the well being of ourselves, our families, and the greater well being of the Earth.
Every day that we do not connect with and honor those who came before us, those who are still actively guiding us, we miss an opportunity to experience true belonging. We are neurologically wired for connection. This need for connection is prominent throughout our lifespan. I believe we are desperately seeking for this connection every day but have no one to guide us into true belonging. This endless seeking leaves us more lonely, depressed, feeling unworthy, competitive, and grieving.
My hope is that we will all embody this deep connectedness and true belonging through humble and compassionate relationships with our human and more than human ancestors.
Your ancestors are waiting for you to acknowledge them. I invite you to call them in.
Hi! I’m Adrienne. I help healers, mystics, and the sensitive ones embody belonging through ancestral healing, reverence and ritual.