The first time I met my ancestors was as a child – one moon lit night, I saw them coming across the fields of my Grandfathers farm – they were like shadows, with strange, yet familiar silhouettes… I am very happy to say, they have been with me ever since.
“Getting to know you; getting to know all about you…. ”
Rodgers and Hammerstein
Let us start with the mundane.
Why? Because we need to root this praxis in reality. There will be times when we will have to pull ourselves back into this realm, and we cannot do this if what we do is not well earthed.
If this makes you feel uncomfortable, then perhaps this is not the time for you to be following this particular path. As with all other things Occult, the way is not easy, and is littered with pit falls and failed intentions.
What is needed is a firm desire to succeed, as this can never be a whim – there needs to be an input of effort; dedication and care… what you put in, you will get out of this praxis. It’s not for the weakhearted, as along the way, you will find out many things… about yourself; your family; and those who have gone before you… some of these things will not be easy to bear.
If you have doubts, then walk away; this is not for you. Maybe not now; maybe never… but if this fills you with excitement, then carry on, but beware.
As with all things to do with witchcraft and the occult, this is not to be taken lightly.
IT’s not a game; a thing to be picked up and played with for a while – this is as real as the nose on your, my, face.
This is why, we start with the mundane.
If that seems boring; walk away – you are not ready.
Your own family, Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Siblings and Cousins are the starting point – talk to them about the family… get to know the stories, the tales… learn as much as you can from the living about the dead. Tell them you are tracing the family tree – find out as much as you can – often the elderly in the family love to reminisce and even write things down for you – photos can come out and you can take photo’s of them for your records; it will all seem very mundane, but… magical too.
Find out as much as you can about them; when they married; what job they did; where they lived and how many children they had and how they are related to you.
Build a family tree – even if you only know one set of Grandparents or one generation, that is a very good place to start. These days, there are many online sites to build your family tree and as you go, add to the bare bones, the history of the people, the places they lived and the occupations they had.
Get to know them.
This is so important, I cannot stress it enough. Collecting facts and figures is all well and good, but adding flesh to the bones will reap rewards in the future.
I was lucky, as a young child growing up I was always interested in the generations who had given birth to my Grandparents and delighted in any stories about both my English and Welsh sides. When I turned 40, I began to research my Grandfathers family – after all, I had been introduced to them that night in the moon lit field, now it was time to put names to those shadows… within three weeks I had gone back some 10 or 11 generations to 1598!
This thanks to an unusual surname, and the fact it’s taken them 400 years to move just nine miles….
As you continue to learn as much as you can about your own ancestors, and this will be a life time project… if you choose to trace your families history (so much easier online these days) the connection between you and them will continue to grow – have as many photo’s of your ancestors as you can, framed and around your home. Introduce visitors to them, perhaps with a few facts about them, or amusing tales; either about them, as handed down in the family, or how you found their grave…
If you can, pay them homage at their resting place. Take flowers, talk to them. One of the members of my family, used to take her newborn babies to ‘meet’ her deceased parent as a way of keeping the mommies alive.
The Ancient Egyptians used to include on the coffins of the mummies something akin to this: “Speak his name, and he shall live again!” This is very true – speak of them and call them by their names and they shall never truly be gone…
I always light a candle to my Mother on my birthday – that way, I remember her labour to bring me into the world… I have traced my Mothering line back five generations. This, I think important, for if I have a problem which they can help with, then I call on them. By remembering the important dates (birth, marriage, death) I reconnect with them. This is a mundane ritual for me to do; on the other side I doubt they have a calendar, but the flame can be seen beyond the veil and by honouring them in the here and now, the connection is strengthened. At least that is how I see it – there may be others who would argue it another way, and you may, as your praxis deepens, find your own explanation about this, and many other things.
The more interest you show in them, the more you will call them though the veil, and they will become interested in you.
BUT, and this is important… at this beginning stage, as you lay the foundations, direct contact should not be sought.
Many tricky spirits can and will take notice, and advantage if you try any contact from beyond.
If this makes you feel uncomfortable. Good! As said before, this is no easy thing, and must be taken gently – over time this will become clear.
This problem will be discussed in a further post, but for now, if you wish to lay down the basics, getting to know your ancestors, who they were, what they did etc is enough for now.
- Talk to family members, taking notes, and begin to trace your family tree. Don’t rush – this can, and probably will, be a lifetime activity.
- Collect photo’s and frame them to place around your home. Later they will form the basis of a working shrine to your Ancestors.
- Visit their graves, taking flowers – but not offerings; not yet.
- DO NOT try to contact them, even if you are quite adept in receiving messages from beyond. This is a gentle approach and cannot be rushed. Plus there are certain things to make them prove they are who they claim to be. Many false spirits seek to trick the unwary.
- Remember the important dates – birth, marriage, death.
- Keep notes – always good to look back on.
When you have spent at least one month on this, beginning if you so wish at the new moon period, then you have begun – there is no time period other than that, as I’ve said before, tracing your family history can be a life time of dedication.
However… a word of warning; this is a true story.
Twenty odd years ago, I became friendly with a chap online – I at first thought we might have a common ancestor but the Morgan I was looking at turned out to be no relation to me at all. Nor him, but we had an interest in the area so remained friends. Emails came and went for about two or three years, as we updated each other with events and information. Then one day, he went silent… I heard nothing from him for about a month, and then the email came. He, for the past eleven years had been researching the wrong family of Morgans! He found this out when he sent for his Grandfathers birth certificate. The official record of this birth showed two different names as parents. At first he though he’d made the mistake and sent for the wrong certificate – subsequent enquiries showed that it was correct beyond a doubt. ELEVEN YEARS of research down the drain.
So, the moral of this story is simple; birth, marriage and death registration certificates contain valuable information – do buy them. After official registration began in the UK in 1837 (I think it was) then there are Parish Registers, which contain the same info, but burial, instead of death, and baptism dates instead of birth dates. That said, check and recheck carefully with the original records if you can. I’ve found many mistakes with online records and anyway – a visit to the local record office also give an opportunity to visit the ancestors home area. There is nothing quite like walking the same streets they once did …
One last thing – enjoy this. There will be tears – and joys – frustrations and elations, along the way. Lay down firm foundations now, and the rewards will be many.