Daily Archives: June 1, 2012

A is for Ancestors – Pagan Blog Project 2012

So. There’s this thing called the Pagan Blog Project. And I’m finding myself inclined to jump on that bandwagon and do twenty-six (theoretically weekly, but I suspect they’ll be more sporadic/random than that) posts pertaining to elements of my religious beliefs and practice in alphabetical order. I’m doing this partly because, yeah, a couple of cool-ass people – Miss Sugar and Mama Fortuna, specifically – are Doing It, so why not me; but more significantly because I tend to spend most of my time on this blog talking about gardening, foraging, and small-c crafts, to the detriment of more obvious Pagan content: I’d like to rectify that situation and doing it using a set of (self-determined) alphabetical prompts is a fairly simple way of doing so (which means I’m that much more likely to acutally stick with it).

As such, I bring you entry #1 on my Pagan Blog Project tag:

A is for Ancestors

In my home practice, I do Ancestor Veneration. It’s not hard core (because next to nothing I do is Hard Core) but it’s there. I light candles and, sometimes, incense for my family, include them in my (still sporadic) boiled water offerings, recognize them at birthdays and death-days and similar, and just generally talk to them. Sometimes I ask for help or guidance – more or less the way I do with, say, my very-much-alive dyke-musician-environmentalist auntie (apparently dyke-musician-environmentalism runs in the family… who knew?)
It’s low-key and homey and nice. I like it.

The thing is… I’ve always done this. My mom taught me this, kind of by accident, when she explained the concept of angels as “people who are in heaven” and also the concept of dead relatives as “people who are in heaven”. I suspect the name-that-relative game that we played when I was a toddler (and we lived an airplane ride away from 100% of the extended family) also has something to do with this: People who are your family even though you don’t typically see them, who care about you even though they aren’t around.

When I lost my faith in Christianity (up until my very earliest teens, I was a pretty devoted Christian – I half-wonder if, had I been Pentacostal, I would have stayed with it[1] – but I started questioning a lot of the sexism and similar in the scriptures when I hit high school and, by the time I was sixteen, it was just GONE), I basically said to myself “I can’t have faith in this deity anymore. He’s too much of a shithead. I just can’t. I cannot put my trust in this guy. Okay. So… What/who can I believe in?”
And, thus, my search began.

The first answer I came up with – quite quickly, as it happened – was “angels”. But I didn’t mean “angels – the emissaries of Jehova who are not and never have been human”. I mean “angels – my dead relatives who keep an eye on me and have my back”.

And so it began. I do ancestor veneration. I talk to my dad and, sometimes, my nana (most frequently), along with the general group of Everyone Else. I ask my dad to guide me when I go fishing this summer because he was always good at it, and also he’s the one who taught me to fish. I write letters to my remaining living grandparents. I have pictures of my relatives (living and dead) in a shrine by the front door and they have their own altar-space (on, granted, a shelf shared with My Lady of the Crossroads, but that’s kind of apt, as she handles The Dead anyway…) and it’s part of my regular practice.

Something I’d like to do is incorporate a spare place setting at my Solstice Dinner (the one done by candle light to honour the dark end of the year) so that my relatives (and deities, and so on) can stop by and//or join in.

Anyway. That’s my (brief) discussion of ancestor veneration.

Meliad, the Birch Maiden

[1] Probably not. The whole polyamourous lesbian thing probably would have been a sticking point somewhere along the line…