Monday, March 12, 2012

Romaticizing Ancestors

At times, in conversations with other witches I've noticed a tendency to romanticize ancestors who practiced any form of magic.  I've fallen into it myself more than once.  So this post isn't a "listen up magical newbs" thing, it's self reflection on a tendency that I think many have, and I most definitely do.  I'm not an expert in necromancy or ancestor communication, but certainly not new to either.  I'm sharing some thoughts for other non-experts interested in either practice (ancestor communication and necromancy are different, but occasionally overlap IMO).

Several of my ancestors, living and dead, practiced folk magic.  For this post I'm going to focus on two of them.  One female who was initiated into a form of trad craft who is now deceased, and one male who I have no clue where he picked up his practices and is still living.

The female ancestor I remember had what many in my family refer to as "the sight". She would hear death bells and tell us what direction death was coming in and how many souls it would take (and she was always accurate), make charms for people, etc.  She would walk to the crossroads at times and never tell anyone why she was going there. She used blood in her works, and there were curious stone circles on her land with bones in the center that weren't talked about.  She was also a Christian.  Much as I would like to think that she and I are alike and that she would have taught me her ways had she lived till I was older, I know that she most likely would have saw my bisexuality and Luciferian philosophies without having to be told of them, and would not have approved.  And as much as I respect and appreciate family traditions, I respect and appreciate myself more, so I would not have tried to be something I am not just to continue the line.  Based on what I knew of her, she might have considered me too much 'on the dark side'.

The male has good luck charms, bone crafts, and many other folk magic works around his home and land that he's made over the years.  He knows a lot of traditional lore that would be interesting to document. He has no truck with any type of religious philosophies on afterlife punishment (hell, karma, etc.) which is something we have in common.  But, he is an asshole.  He is racist and has shown extreme cruelty to children and animals more than once.  I would like to preserve the lore of my family, but I don't want it bad enough to go through him.  Based on what I know of him, he would consider me too 'soft' to handle the information anyway.

So here I am, more than one ancestor who practiced a form of magic, but none that I would feel comfortable actually asking them to teach me anything beyond what I picked up through observation.  Instead, I commune with ancestors whose magical practice or non-practice is unknown to me, but are people with a character that is open minded enough to get to know me and still want to interact with me.  I will also open communication with some who would not fully approve of me (like the female ancestor described above) if they're willing, but I don't get quite as intimate. 

The reason I am thinking of this today, is that lately I've talked to so many witches who want to start working with ancestors, but only ancestors who were witches or had a magical practice.  I would offer that there is so much information and experience that is useful to a witch that can be obtained from communication with any ancestor who's open to it and benevolent toward the one calling them, not just magical ones.  Just the communication itself, and not necessarily even the information gained, is experience that will help us grow.  And I think it's really important to keep in mind that just because someone practiced a form of magic (such as my male ancestor described above) doesn't necessarily mean that they'll be good to communicate with.  That's not to say we shouldn't attempt to contact them, but to go into it carefully and cautiously until we've made sure they're benevolent.  That goes for any ancestor, but I feel it needs saying more in regards to those where there's evidence of magic or witchery, since some of us have a tendency to think that those types will automatically be safer and benevolent toward us.


  1. Great Points Rhoda! I realized recently that one of my magical ancestors although trying to contact me, is actually pretty clueless. It was disappointing, but it reminded me, death doesn't just give someone all seeing wisdom, the dead can make mistakes too.