Ancestors and Omens

I’m getting a little concerned that my ancestors are unhappy with me. In my Imbolc ritual, I drew four tarot cards asking what blessings were offered: one for ancestors, one for nature spirits, one for the gods and goddesses, and one for Brigid, and the omens weren’t great.

For the ancestors, I drew the seven of wands. This is a card of defense during strife, of fighting back with all your might. It’s not really a card of blessing, at least not to my mind: it’s a card of warning, a card saying you need to dig in and make a final effort. I made additional offerings, and drew the nine of swords, another card that’s not really a blessing. While I have felt a little bad that I haven’t felt a strong connection with the ancestors yet, this card more frightened me than anything else. I made more offerings and drew again… And drew the Wheel of Fortune. I decided to take this one as more of a blessing, because it’s the assurance that even if I’m unhappy with where I am right now, the wheel will turn and things will change.

As a three-card reading, this tells me that I need to dig in; to face, accept, and release my fears; and eventually things will change for the better.

But as an omen, what does this tell me about the ancestors, about my relationship with them? I’m not close with my extended family. My dad deliberately kept us from living close to his family because of his turbulent relationship with his own father and siblings. His paternal grandfather was adopted, so we don’t know much about our family at all. My mother has a huge extended family, most of whom I’ve never met. My grandparents are all still alive. My brother passed away a few years ago, and I always honor him; I think he would be amused with the practice more than anything else.

Somehow, though, I’ve gotten nearly consistent “bad” omens and mishaps when dealing with the ancestors in ritual. Spilled offerings (oats everywhere!), broken bottles, overturned chairs, I’ve done it all. At this stage, I think I should do some sort of ritual to connect with them, but I’m not sure how or where to begin.

Does anyone have any suggestions? I’m looking for ancestor-specific rites and resources for understanding omens and their role in ritual. I could really use some guidance.

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4 thoughts on “Ancestors and Omens

  1. Have you considered that perhaps rather than being unhappy with you, your ancestors are trying to convey a message?

    Anyway, there is a little book by Philip Shallcrass called “Druidry”(it may also be known as the ‘Piaktus Guide to Druidry’).. It contains a fairly short but nice meditation exercise called “The Ancestor Tree” which you might find useful. It’s only about four pages long so I could scan it for you if you like.

    • Sorry for the extreeeemely delayed response. I’ve actually been thinking about this quite a bit, and I’m starting to think you’re right. They might have a message for me, but I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I’m listening, though, and I think I’m getting closer.

      That meditation would be great, if you have time to scan it some time. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. Are you calling only the Ancestors of Blood? Try merely learning about them – who they were, what they did. Perhaps look further back – beyond your paternal great grandfather. Don’t assume that just because he’s of different blood that his adoptive parents don’t count as your family ancestors – they do. He was welcomed into their family, adopted and raised as one of them. Blood becomes irrelevant at this point. So look to learn about who they were. And remember, even if they were @$$holes, they were still family, and worth at least learning about. That may suffice.

    Also, don’t be afraid to abandon the whole idea of family ancestors in your worship. Try honouring cultural ancestors, or the Ancient Wise, or any of a number of others. Some of the gay members of ADF honour as ancestors all of the gay men (and women) over the centuries that paved the way for them to live as free ad they do today.

    Good luck!

    • Thanks for the suggestions! I’ve been trying to expand my notion of the ancestors, thinking about some cultural ancestors and a few “spiritual” ancestors, historical figures I feel a connection to for some reason or another.

      I’ve also started looking into genealogy, learning who exactly my ancestors were. I have already learned, for instance, that I had two great-uncles who fought in World War II and a great-great-times x (not sure of the number of greats) grandfather who fought in the Civil War. I’m already starting to feel more of a connection to my roots.

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