Under the Ancient Oaks: Honoring Our Ancestors

Walk into the homes of your friends and you’re likely to see photos and mementos of parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. Honoring our ancestors is an intuitive impulse among Pagans, Christians, atheists, and everyone else. For some of us, though, it’s not just a pleasant thing to do – it’s an important part of our spiritual practice.

Fellow Denton CUUPS member Linda Masten and I discuss ancestors: who they are, why they’re important to us here and now, and most importantly, how we can honor them.

Who are our ancestors? Some we knew in this life, some we know only their names and dates of birth and death, and some we don’t know at all. But no matter how close or distant we are from our ancestors, they answer the question “where do we come from?” We look at old pictures and we see the some of the same features  we see in the mirror. We share a name or we hear a tale and realize that could have been us. We do a bit of genealogical research and we find roots in a faraway land – and sometimes living relatives too. All that reminds us that we’re not alone in this world.

It is good and right that we honor our ancestors. It’s only because of them that we’re even here, much less that we have things like religion, culture, art, and the infrastructure that supports our lives. We can’t pay them back, but we can thank them, we can remember them, and we can strive to be good ancestors for those who come after us.

Whatever hard times we’re going through, we have an ancestor who went through something just as bad or worse. We know they got through it or we quite literally wouldn’t be here. They faced famine and disease, invasion and war, plagues and ice ages. They moved – the story of humanity is the story of migration. I’m sure some of that migration was out of curiosity and adventure, but I’m just as sure more of it was due to dwindling food supplies or violent attacks. They did what they had to do, and so can we.

Linda's ancestor altar 782x411

This is the last video of 2017, so it’s time to start looking forward to 2018.

February 9 through 11 I’ll be at the ADF Texas Imbolc Retreat at the U Bar U retreat center in Mountain Home, Texas. You don’t have to be a member of ADF to attend, it’s suitable for Pagans and polytheists of all varieties, and it’s drivable from almost any place in Texas. This will be my fifth year at this gathering – if you live anywhere nearby I encourage you to consider attending.

The following weekend, February 16 through 19, I’ll be at Pantheacon in San Jose, California. Pantheacon is the largest indoor Pagan gathering in the world. I’ll be speaking on “Building Alliances Across Our Many Communities” on Saturday at 11:00 AM. I’ll also be doing at least one and probably two presentations in the ADF hospitality suite – more details on those once they’re finalized.

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