At this time of year, more than any other, we are thinking about our ancestors. The barriers between this world and the next are at their thinnest twice a year. Once at Beltane and once now as we’re moving closer to Samhain.
Usually when we think of our ancestors we think of those family members who have passed away (recently or in the distant past).
There is more than just that one way to work with ancestors. In addition to the family you’re descended from, there are also ancestors of the land and ancestors of the spirit.
Ancestors of the Land
This refers to the people who originally inhabited the area in which you live. For me, here in Central PA., that’s going to be, among others, the Algonquin people. Working with the people of your land can incorporate many things. You can learn some of the language, read their origin stories as well as many other aspects of their culture like what Deities they worked with, clothes they wore or food they ate.
This can also refer to your genetic ancestors. For example, I’m Scotch-Irish and German so I can work with deities of those areas of the world.
Ancestors of Spirit
Spiritual ancestors are those people that live, and have lived, that move your soul. People like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. or Nelson Mandela, although they don’t have to be famous. These are the people who move you to be a better person. As someone who was adopted, I had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t have blood relatives that I knew. That doesn’t mean I can’t call on those anyway, but it does mean that I didn’t have a relationship with them in my life. I compensated with that lack of relationship with books so I found a lot of writers and world changers that moved me to be a better person.
Obviously, working with your actual blood ancestors can hold a stronger bond, but it doesn’t mean you can’t look elsewhere for that connection.