“You are the fairy tale told by your ancestors.”Toba Beta
All art by Edward Robert Hughes, 1851 – 1914
This time of year we find ourselves waning through the quieting autumn. Gently moving into the embrace of winter. The leaves find their way ever so sweetly released from the grip of the trees. Oh how nature so gracefully teaches us of surrender. Free of any resistance, the land guides us in the ways we too may let go of what we no longer need to carry. As the air grows crisper, the nights longer, one is guided to deepen into the warmth of the hearth. Finding a cozy space inside where silence can be found.
This time of year is one of opening, in a different way than the grandness of summer. Where life is strong and flowing outward, interacting with all the world, autumn’s opening is more subtle. Move too quickly and you might miss it. That is the energy of the subliminal spaces. As we move from the life of summer into the death of winters, we find ourselves somewhere in-between. A space not quite fully still, yet moving differently than before. This is the in-between space that is cracked open during these times of transitions. Like a portal, a door is opened into another world. They call it the thinning of the veil. Where the threshold that separates our physicality from that of spirit is stretched and thins. Becoming more accessible. Allowing communion between worlds as the seasons themselves turn. For in these spaces that are not quite here nor there, there is something else. Something new. Something otherworldly. And it is here we may hear the calls our ancestors have been speaking to us.
All over the world this moment upon the wheel of the year is celebrated as a time to honour the ancestors. All those who came before us. All those who have passed through the veil to the other side, and are now spirits. This echoing of a tradition that touches so many parts of the world speaks to how deeply this knowing was felt as true. Like how if you have a prophetic vision, and then find that someone else had that same vision as well, there is a sense of confirmation there. A feeling that it must be an important thing that is part of the very fabric of creation, that it was offered to all peoples. Everywhere in the world there is celebration of different sorts, laid with unique cultural expression, yet when stripped to the essence is celebrating the ancestors. Although these holy days stretch out to us from the ancient world, there are some that have forgotten the foundational importance of communion with this otherworld, and with our ancestors. Places that have been “modernized” by colonialism have lost touch with this earth based devotion and connection to creation.
Yet as we look to communities and peoples who have remained tied to their ancient wisdom, this connection is present. In many cultures that have remained indigenous to their ways continue to practice this daily awareness of how they are tied to their ancestors. There is remembrance and respect. For although this time of year is particularly potent for these energies, when the otherworld is also reaching out for us in return, our ancestors are always around us, open to connect and guide. This practice can be seen as a way of life that opens into the awareness of how we are a part of our ancestors, inseparable. What is now referred to as animism is this remembering that all is alive, all is connected, as we are one piece of a magnificent tapestry of creation. To some this way of thinking may seem obscure, yet at one point or another in all of our histories, this was commonplace. This is the way you see the world when you are connected to it, not separate. And so, it is to these people who continue to share these traditions that we may learn from to remember our own. It is through them we may be supported in finding our way back into the embrace of our ancestors.
As the land quiets, the energy moves back to the roots. Keeping warm and nourished beneath the dark soils of the earth. So too we may quiet, and move back into our own roots. Our essence. All that from which we come from. Here we are remembering in those ways all that we belong to. We are not alone here. We are not strayed and forgotten. We belong to all of creation. The spiral that continues to unfold. All of our relatives that live here with us, the trees, the foxes, the birds and the wind. Yet as well as all those who have passed on into spirit. Our grandmothers and fathers, our uncles and cousins. It is deeply nourishing to remember our lineage in a way of love and gratitude.
Through them we have become all that we are. Our intuition is fine tuned and lined with the experience of our relations. Our blood and bones filled with the food they ate, our feet remembering their steps. You see, in these ways we are all connected. Perhaps that sounds cheesy, but let that sink into your heart space. Let those words radiate within you and find their roots in something true, that you already know. We are all tied together through the mycelium of our ancestors. They are those that guide us on our path. In these ways we are not alone and strayed, but we are divinely protected and guided. The guides that support us upon our path here. They speak through our intuition, through our inner knowing. As we move they follow, and direct us towards all that is meant for us. As their ancestors before them did. And as we will do to those after. It is the way of things. The cycles of reciprocity. I eat you and you eat me. I help you and you help me. I am you and you are me.
Ancestor work doesn’t need to look a certain way to be true. It is whatever you want it to be. Whether that means connecting with family that you knew in this life, and have passed into the beyond. Or perhaps ancestors from long ago that have come to connect with you. Or perhaps a general reverence for the ancestors as a whole that are witnessed and celebrated. Ancestor work doesn’t have to be connecting with very specific beings. It also isn’t tangible in the ways that we connect with people in this realm. It lives within a different frequency. A feeling that begins to grow within you or a thought that spontaneously floats into your mind can be interpreted as communication between you and spirit. It is imaginal work. It is work that asks you to trust in something that you cannot see. A feeling. A knowing.
We could talk in circles asking ourselves again and again whether something “really” happened or we imagined it. The truth is, it is all imagined. Yet that does not make it any less real. Here we are learning to play with our imagination, and once again claim it as a valid and important tool in our work here on earth, and our communion with all the things beyond. When we listen to our intuition and our imagination in these ways, every feeling, every thought, every coincidence is infused with meaning, is a message from the otherworld and an invitation to look deeper. As we commune and work with our guides and ancestors, it is this frequency that we touch upon. It is subtle. It takes practice to fine tune and develop these gifts of insight, especially when we have gone so long distrusting in them. The truth is we all have the ability to tune into this realm, and whenever we want to, not just this time of year. It will look different for everyone. Your practice is your own.
When we are working with these energies, it is also important to clean up our intentions here, and be clear with what you are calling in. To remain safe in the space and not unknowingly call upon an energy that you actually don’t want, one asks for protection from their guides and spirits to support. Call upon spirits that are needing to come through to support and nourish you upon you path. And any harmful and malefic influences to be deflected and sent away. Especially important since we are working here with unseen energies, and are spiritually open in this space, to be clear with what kind of energies exactly we are wanting to work with. The loving spirits of our ancestors. Those who mean well for us. Depending on your own energetic state, and that which surrounds you in your life, there may be harmful influences around that try and penetrate into your own practice. Being aware of this and unafraid of these energies is important. They cannot harm you when you are centred within yourself in love and trust, as well as when you call upon your loving guides for protection. I put this out there as just something to be mindful of. This is not an inherently dangerous practice nor are there energies normally out there trying to get us. But it is a humbling reminder of the vast spectrum of energies and beings.
Our ancestors are loving guides that long to help us upon our path, or sometimes even have messages that we are needing to hear or deliver. Yet our communion with them can also be as simple as offering thanks to them. Feeling and acknowledging them around us is already such an enriching way to live in communion with them. Remembering them. Speaking their names and acknowledging their place on this earth, their experiences, their stories. They themselves long to connect with us in the same ways. The stories of the land and the people who walked on it. As we reclaim this wisdom, the earth’s knowledge is enriched in turn. A beautiful practice here can be to make a family tree. As far back as you can go. Ask your parents. Your grandparents. The names may be written down and worked with in ceremony as a sacred remembrance from the lineage that you come from. This healing works in so many directions even beyond yourself. Reaching out to everyone and everything.
It is a full circle of taking care and being taken care of. As we tend to our inner world of spirit in these ways, we energetically work to transmute the hurts and struggles of our ancestors. As you remember those who have passed, you work to release what is no longer needing to be carried. That is echoing the shedding of this time that we referred to earlier. Touching upon the energetics of autumn and winter that allow us to move into these unseen spaces. Through shedding and releasing, we may be birthed anew. That is the medicine of this time, a vital part of the spiral dance. As we release, we open to receive something new. It is the surrender that I touched on in the beginning of this writing, and how we may look to nature as our guide as well. This time of year asks us to look into ourselves, what is needing to be let go of now? With our ancestors with us, we may deepen the context through which we look. Letting go and opening into the embrace of winter’s inward reflection.
Our ancestors have given us both gifts and burdens and we may choose what we wish to carry with us onwards. Bringing awareness into these spaces also shines a light on the burdens that are not ours to carry, yet have still been passed down. This is where they are left and given back to the earth. As well as the gifts that we may celebrate and uplift, so they may be passed on to those who come after us. This intentionality asks for a heart centred in love and truth. Not moving from a place of wounds, your eyes open to see beyond the surface. We work with our lineage in these ways to shed what is no longer needing to be carried. Here we are the turning point within the legacy of our lineage that offers something even better to our children.
It is continuously evolving, rooted in our connection with our heritage, all that we come from. When we carry this awareness, we may consciously choose what we take and what we leave. For a long time people have been living unconscious of what their parents and lineage passed down to them. A world that has been affected by pain and loss. And so those wounds have been carried and passed down when they were meant to be soothed and released. This is our work now. As we nourish our own hearts, and offer gratitude for the cords that connect us, we radiate this healing through to all those that are tied to us in turn. This stretches back and forward, side to side. In all directions. This is how the world is nourished. The link is restored between us and all that we belong to. Remembering that we do belong to something. To everything.
It is a beautiful time in these ways. Light a candle for your loved ones. Light a candle for those you never met. Light a candle for those who guide and protect you. It is a life soaked in ritual and devotion that enriches the soils of the spirit. As we reach out for them, their messages become more clear, and suddenly our life comes alive with communion. The plants really do talk back to you. The trees can be heard singing in the wind. The ancestors can be seen roaming the wild lands. These are the intricate ways of creation that open up for us. When we see it in these ways, we see the full colours of life. Everything comes alive with importance and meaning. And so, during this turn of the wheel, as the veil thins, the portal opens, our ancestors walk to us. They touch our cheek and kiss our forehead and remind us that we are loved. That we are held by the embrace of our lineage. In that there is beauty. This is a time to give thanks for these cords. For all that they have led into our lives. Reminding us of our path of purpose. So, as the nights stretch longer and the darkness grows, learn to see not with your two eyes, but with your eye of spirit. It ignites the way for you. Upon this path you are held. You are loved. You are protected. And so it is.
Marija (@redmoonmedicine instagram) is an earth tender, storyteller and medicine weaver in devotion to the spiral codes of creation. She is the creatrix of Red Moon Medicine, a container of devotion, where is shared writing within the flavour of animism and ancestral crafts as well as gatherings held in sacred circle, remembering the old ways of community and ritual. Her medicinal offerings are woven with the threads of the ancestors, slow, seasonal and land focused medicine. The path she follows is one held within the land, in reverence to the cords that tie us all together. Her work also expands into an online community container of the Medicine Temple on patreon.