S2:E9 How to speak with Ancestors - A Practical Guide


Hey, welcome to Shaman Talk. My name's Rhonda and I'm your host. And this week we are talking to the ancestors. We are going to learn how to connect with them and talk to them. If you live really far away from the land of your lineage, we're going to discuss what to do if you have troublesome ancestors. And as usual, we'll touch on some traditional info as well. First, though, in other news, I received a hard copy in my hand of my new book this week, the Cauldron and the Drum, a journey into celtic shamanism. It was so strange when the box arrived, I thought I had another week to go, so I was really nervous to have it in my hand. It took me like a few hours to open the box, honestly.


But now I'm feeling really excited for all of you to have the book in your hand in January. How exciting is that? Now, if you'd like to preorder the book, you can do so on Amazon and many other outlets as well. If you don't like Amazon. And just so you know, preorders are immensely helpful to me. So you can preorder the book in the US up until the 9 January and a little bit later in the UK. But really, preorders show the book world that my book is worth stocking and it shows my publisher that it was worth putting his faith in me. And a brand new first time author. So huge thank you to everyone who has preordered already. I know some of you ordered the book as far back as April this year, so thank you. Thank you so much.


And in even more news, I will be teaching in the United States in May 2024. I've been invited to teach at the live gathering of the shamans in Sedona. So if you want to join me and some other amazing teachers for a few days, watch out for more announcements coming soon. I cannot wait. Okay, let's do it. Ancestors now, ancestors, as far as I'm concerned, are not just pictures on a wall or distant figures or thing energy that's really far away from me, but they are integral to my day to day spiritual life and that is very common in those with scottish ancestry. And we're going to talk about that in more detail. We want to understand why we venerate ancestors in the British Isles as well.


And I know that a lot of you want to do that in a way that honors your heritage. So we are going to talk about how to do that effectively from wherever you are in the world. But first, let's get into difficult family lineage and ways to connect ancestrally without connecting to your own line if that is unsafe for you. Ancestor veneration is about honoring those who came before and healing and reconciling both personal and generational wounding. And it's important to recognize that not everyone feels comfortable or ready to connect with their own direct ancestors, and that's okay. In some cases, individuals have become aware of ancestors who have committed atrocities or caused great harm, which can really create a significant emotional and spiritual barrier to forming this ancestral connection that we often talk about in many different shamanic practices.


An alternative pathway for you if you struggle with this, is to reach back in time to connect with your ancient ancestors far enough removed from the present day that their lives and actions do not carry the emotional trauma of the more recent ancestors that you do not want to connect with. So these ancient ancestors can offer you wisdom and perspective disconnected from the more painful aspects of your lineage. By connecting with ancient ancestors, you may have the opportunity actually to heal some of your ancestral line. Another way to do this is to connect with the loving ancestors. These are beings who have lived a human life and now exist in the spirit realm, making themselves available to anyone who in need of ancestral support.


And these loving ancestors are not part of your line, but they are a compassionate presence who will offer you guidance and healing if you cannot or will not connect with your own lineage. And you may, as many of my students do, find that your perspective begins to shift. The work done with ancient or loving ancestors can pave the way forgiveness of your ancestral line. Now, forgiveness does not mean condonement. Of course it doesn't. But forgiveness can lift a heavy burden you may no longer wish to bear. So for the rest of this podcast, if you are in this boat, anytime I say ancestors, you can know that you're hearing either ancient ancestors or loving ancestors, and you hold that intention so that you don't find the rest of the podcast difficult.


If there is something that I say that you think she must be talking about my ancestors. Everything I say you can shift to be loving ancestors or ancient ancestors. Ancestors, whether yours or loving ancestors, really do provide a sense of connection and belonging. And in celtic shamanism, as with many indigenous traditions, the belief is that ancestors have a continuing presence in our daily lives. They are here, or can be if invited. They can offer guidance and wisdom and a deeper understanding of yourself and your place in the world. And they are your guides as well. They want to interact with you in the same way as you interact with your spirit guides and by honoring them, you can acknowledge the unbroken lineage that ties you to the beginning of time and to all of the gifts that have passed down through the generations.


And those gifts, think how many people have touched your life who are not in your family. So when I talk about gifts being passed down, the generations that can come from anywhere, from any person, ancestor veneration and deep listening is about healing, both personal and generational wounding. Because we carry not just the physical dna of our ancestors, but also their emotional and spiritual legacies, for better or worse. Now, you may not wish to connect with your own ancestors, but you still carry the wounding that they have passed down. You also still receive all of the gifts as well, even if it doesn't seem like that.


So by connecting with the loving ancestors or your own ancestors, you can start to heal these past wounds that may have been carried forward, and you can begin to break the cycles that no longer serve you or your family. Now I want to switch slightly and give ancestors a bit more context. In scottish folk magic, and in other british folk magic as well, ancestors were not just remembered. They were an active part of daily life. They were seen as wise and powerful spirits who could offer protection and guidance and wisdom. Early Celts viewed mythological figures and land spirits as their ancestors. They were sometimes called the mighty Dead, and they were honored with in many ways that we're going to go into later in the podcast. There was also the tradition of charms and healing.


So ancestors played a crucial role in healing practices and the charms that we still have access to often called upon the power and actions of ancestors to heal ailments, showing a deep connection between the healer and their lineage. And those ancestors are right there in person, just without a body. They were seen and felt as tangible as the people in your home or next to you right now. And this connects also to clans in Scotland, because they often trace their origins back to mythological figures, making every clan member a descendant of these powerful ancestors. This lineage, it's not just a matter of pride, but a deep spiritual connection that imbue clan members with a sense of purpose and identity.


Imagine knowing not only that you're descended from legends and heroes, but that you could call upon them to assist you tangibly in your everyday life. That is so magic to me. I would like to now switch again and talk about the concept of embracing the core values that come through many celtic stories of honesty, humility and reverence. In the spiritual landscape of connecting with ancestors, honesty, humility and reverence stand as central pillars, and these virtues, as we'll call them, are deeply woven into celtic spiritual practice and they mirror the ethical foundations in various traditions, from the yoga sutras to christian moral codes and the buddhist precepts, and understanding and embodying these virtues. It's not about moral righteousness or taking the high ground above others. It's quite the opposite, actually. It's a practical approach to deepening spiritual practice and enhancing the connection with your ancestors.


Now let's get a bit of meat on the bones of these concepts. Now, honesty. Honesty transcends truth telling. It's more than that. It's about being authentic to yourself and sincere in all aspects of your life. And when connecting with ancestors, the more honest you are, the more you will open yourself up to the guiding energy of your ancestors. Now, I say honest. I didn't say perfect. So please do not confuse. These old tales often teach the consequences of dishonesty, symbolizing how lies create this unnecessary complexity in life. Like dramas and webs and difficulties and just all kinds of things. Lies never end well. So honesty is clearing out those complexities, those dramas that you no longer need to have in your life.


And it really does allow for a much deeper connection to not only the spiritual realm in general, but it allows you this deeper understanding of ancestral wisdom. It's really quite a magical thing and energy to connect with. And you can connect with honesty kindly. You don't need to be honest every moment of every day so that it's hurtful and so that you use it as a weapon. But you can practice and you can get really good at being honest and authentic and sincere in all of your interactions in life. Next is humility. Humility is not self deprecation, but it is maintaining an accurate perception of yourself. All this nonsense about humility being keeping yourself small and not showing off or being too confident is just nonsense. And it's other people's insecurities keeping you down.


Humility is actually embracing your skills confidently, without apology, regardless of what anyone else has got to say about you or what you do. And it's also, of course, being self reflective about areas in your life that need your attention. Humility is about also recognizing the sacredness in all life forms and understanding that everyone and everything has something to teach you. Now, the journey of humility involves the shedding of both superior and inferior. Never act superior to anyone else, just confident and sure and in clarity about what your gifts are and what you have to offer people in this life, what you have to offer life, and also avoid inferiority. Don't shy away from your big self. Don't hide your light under a bushel just because other people are uncomfortable. That is true humility, shedding both superior and inferior feelings. Easier said than done.


But I find a wee chat about that can be quite helpful, especially for many women who tend to think humility is not being too good at anything, just in case other people think you're up yourself or any of the other phrases that get bandied around these days. Anyway, next we have reverence, which is honoring the sacred. Now, reverence is, oh, I just feel that energy. It's the profound respect and awe for all aspects of life, and I think it's a quality that many of us overlook. It's about seeing the divine and every element of nature in the unseen world. This attitude is really crucial when interacting with ancestors. Reverential practices can look like carefully preparing your sacred spaces, mindfully handling your ritual objects, and generally deepening your connection with the spiritual realm, with your time and your attention.


So connecting with ancestors is a journey that will be enriched by bringing these virtues more fully into your life. Honesty, humility and reverence. And I do talk about this in a lot more detail in my book. Now I'm going to share some practical steps to connecting with ancestors. And again, please remember, ancient, loving or recent, in whatever way is comfortable for you. And I've come to realize that connecting with your ancestors involves, for the most part, giving your time and your attention. So if you set aside regular meditation or quiet reflection time to connect with your ancestors, just simply holding the intention that you want to do that, and you could also do it through guided visualizations or shamanic journeys. You can sit quietly in nature and you can go there regularly and build a relationship with the place in nature as your ancestor.


Now, if your ancestors are far away, if you live in North America and your ancestors are british, for example, they are Britons, then the land connects you. The earth is one home. It's fully connected. Your ancestors will feel you and hear you and know you regardless of where you connect from. And it can also be nice to honor the ancestors of the place and lands where you live if that is something you feel comfortable doing. You can also learn about your family history and your ancestors stories, if you have access to those. If you don't have access to direct family line stories, then read the myths and the legends from your place. This attention to the lives and experiences of your ancestors or the people who lived in your ancestral lands can help you to strengthen the bond.


And you don't have to know who your ancestors were either. I think that's a really important thing to pop in here if you have no idea who your ancestors were. Some people don't even know who their parents were, and that's okay. Your ancestors will be there for you regardless of whether you know them with your mental mind or not. And whoever they are, understanding what their struggles might have looked like and what their triumphs may have been usually makes the connection more real, grounded, and accessible. Another way to connect with your ancestors is to make offerings. I talk a lot about offerings. I think it can be quite overlooked in a land spiritual based practice. But offerings are a tangible way to show respect and gratitude to your ancestors.


And they can be really simple, like lighting a candle in their honor, placing your favorite food and drink on an altar, or a more elaborate ritual specific to significant dates or milestones, or in the wheel of the year, for example. Now I'm just going to give you a wee rundown of the types of things you can think about when you are giving offerings. The way I give offerings is to ensure that I don't harm the environment. So I like to offer perhaps seeds and plants that are native to the land where I live now. Be careful of accidentally planting invasive species. Yes, I have seen this actually happen. You can also collect and decorate natural stones to honor the ancestors. And you can place those on an altar or in a special place in nature.


And then in that case, be sure to be mindful of the paint you use. I love to use a natural dye like beetroot or charcoal if I'm going to leave my stones outside. And generally I'll use a natural dye anyway. You can make or buy incense made from natural materials such as herbs, resins, and wood. You can burn them in honor as you think about and connect with the ancestors and allow the energy to come through to you. You can offer water, such as a bowl you collected from a river on a walk, or perhaps a sacred well, and you can take it home. You can sit with it, and then you can pour it on your land at home or use it in other rituals.


And it's this time and attention to what you're doing that really builds the energy of thanks and gratitude and connection. Now, you can also bury food offerings such as milk, oats, honey, fruit, nuts, and grains. So it's important to remember that choosing earth friendly offerings is a way to honor the land where you live and the ancestors. And again, many people say land and ancestors are the same thing. Now I'd like to give you an example of a little ceremony that you can do so create a sacred space and this can be done inside your home or maybe in your garden or in a special place in nature. And then you can cleanse or sane yourself and your space with rattle or incense and saning is a protective charm to make you the place or the object sacred.


And I have done a whole podcast on that subject earlier in the season so you can learn more there. So you will cleanse and sane yourself. And then you can maybe light a candle to signify the beginning of your ritual and then sit in the sacred space. Think about your ancestors, tell them your stories, tell them about your life and your difficulties, and spend time in gratitude thanking them for their life so that you might live your life. And that counts for all ancestors, yours or the loving ancestors. And then you can perhaps sit in silence and listen in case they have wisdom to share with you. Then you can make your offering, place it in the location that you're in, or pop it on your altar and sit in silence and connect with the ancestors you have honored.


Feel their energy and their presence around you. And if you want to, you can then ask your ancestors to be with you in your day to day life and to guide your path forward so that you might become the ancestor that your descendants need you to be. Now, before we move on from offerings, I'd also like to mention oats really briefly. Now, oats are a significant traditional grain in day to day life and in rituals of prime importance really in any folk herbal magic in Britain. And oats have been cultivated in the more northerly parts of Europe for a very long time. And I mean, porridge is the national dish of Scotland. If you want to develop this deeper connection to your ancestors, perhaps you can try working with oats. You can eat them, you can feel them, you can cook with them.


Perhaps you can make Bannock cakes to gift to the land. Maybe you can connect with the spirit of oats and ask what the oats would like to become as part of an offering to the ancestors. Do this shamanic journey and ask any items that you want to use in your offerings. Practice. You can journey to and ask. You can also learn the historical and spiritual aspects and be curious and build a relationship with the offerings that you are creating. Now, if you're in the I don't have much time boat, simply carrying around a handful of oats in a wee hessian bag or in an envelope in your pocket every day works well. You can feel the oats throughout the day. When you get a second, you can make them part of your noticing and your awareness in small moments.


And it's this awareness and noticing that creates the offering. It imbues the offering with meaning and energy because you're giving your most precious resource, which is time. Now, if this is something that you tend to worry about, which is getting it wrong, the old gods, the ancestors, the spirits of the land, whoever you're making offerings to, recognize your heart, recognize that you've done your best, and perfection is not required. You cannot get good intention spiritual connection wrong. So please just relax. They really do know your heart. And one last thing is that the significance offerings is in the intention, attention, and the time you give it is not in the material value. So you give what you can, knowing that material offerings like oats or incense are welcome, but they're not essential.


So giving your time and attention are the most precious gifts you can give. Ancestral veneration is a deeply personal, transformative journey, or it can be. And I always recommend that you connect in the ways that feel right to you. So yes, it's important to know your roots and to know how people of the past would connect. But spirituality evolves, usually through necessity. And we don't have all the answers. We don't know all the ways that connection happened in the past. So if you have an intuition to do things a certain way at a certain time, do it. It's probably your ancestors honestly speaking to you and either reminding you of how it would have been done or showing you a new way to do it. So I invite you to trust your connection, trust your gut.


Thank you so much for joining me on this podcast. I really hope this helps you to get in touch with your ancestors in a more profound and in a deeper way. And if you want to ask questions or get into a conversation with me about this, you can find me on Instagram at center for shamanism. I'm always happy to chat. So until next time, may the wisdom of the Ancients guide you. The warmth of your hearth comfort you, and the sacred cauldrons within you find harmony and balance.

This is where you master the spiritual secrets of the ancient Celts and create a deeply connected and magical life.

Step into the Centre’s very special Shamanic sanctuary. Inside the Cauldrons Way, you’ll find live gatherings, ceremonies, retreats and guided teachings designed to help you activate your inner cauldrons and amplify your spiritual connection. Plus, you get near-daily support from Rhonda and her team of six trusted practitioners. 

Oh, it gets better! Get full and immediate access to ALL THE PERKS when you start a risk-free* membership today

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This is where you master the spiritual secrets of the ancient Celts and create a deeply connected and magical life.

Step into the Centre’s very special Shamanic sanctuary. Inside the Cauldrons Way, you’ll find live gatherings, ceremonies, retreats and guided teachings designed to help you activate your inner cauldrons and amplify your spiritual connection. Plus, you get near-daily support from Rhonda and her team of six trusted practitioners. 

Oh, it gets better! Get full and immediate access to ALL THE PERKS when you start a risk-free* membership today

*30-day ‘no questions asked’ money back guarantee.

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