As we approach Samhain in the Northern Hemisphere, we often consider our blood ancestors. Many people work with Samhain as a time to worship and celebrate their ancestors. For some of us, this celebration of our ancestors is a joyful time – but for many, it’s a time of challenge. We can always choose to worship ancestors who are NOT of our blood, but sometimes it can feel like there is pressure to honor your blood ancestors at this time in the cycle of the year – even when that might be hard for us.
Our ancestors were human – with just as many flaws and issues as other humans. Some of them are lovely caring people whose flaws are outweighed by their good traits, some of them were more balanced, and some were just nasty people. That’s okay.
Sometimes we don’t know our ancestors – and that’s okay too. Most of us lose track of who our ancestors are at some point, but just because we don’t know their names doesn’t mean that we can’t work with them.
You also don’t have to worship the ancestors that you don’t agree with or like. You certainly don’t have to honor any ancestors who abused you and yours.
How do you manage Samhain when you don’t have ancestors that you can name, or when all you know are ancestors you have challenges with?
There are a few different options with challenging ancestors – you can ignore them, you can find a way to recognize their effect on you and work through that, or you can have a casual at-arms-length relationship. There might be other options too. Just because I haven’t thought about it doesn’t mean it isn’t an option. Any of these options – and whatever you can think of – is a valid option. Some might be healthier than others – for example, maintaining your anger might not be the most beneficial response.
If you don’t know your blood ancestors or don’t want to work with the ones you do know, you can still do that. Here’s a quick prayer to work with offerings for those who wish to work with the un-named ancestors.
Prayer to the Ancient Ancestors
Prepare for the working with an offering of water, tea, or coffee. You’ll either need the liquid in its own cup/glass or have a bowl or something to pour some liquid into. As you say the prayer, place or pour the offering on your altar or designated offering space.
I call to my ancient ancestors of blood and bone,
Ancient Ancestors of heart and mind,
Ancient Ancestors of spirit and soul,
Ancient ancestors, whose names I do not know,
Your blood flows through my veins
And connects us through time.
You helped to make me who I am.
Ancient Ancestors, I call you today,
May my Blessings go with you,
And your Blessings go with me.
Hail to the Ancestors.