Everything kicks into high gear for me in October. You may have heard or read that this is the time of the year that the veil between the material world and the otherworld thins. I’ve come to learn that it doesn’t thin so much as it becomes transparent, and psychic experiences and spirit contact gain a bit of extra power and potency as a result.
I recently started offering practical magick lessons, which functions as me sharing my knowledge through an informal teaching structure for those who are interested in growing their magickal and spiritual practice. This month’s focus is on psychic development and spirit contact- for good reason. For those who want to dive into these areas of their development, October is energetically charged for such work not just because of the natural cycle of the year, but because there is a collective openness and focus on this (usually) taboo practice of witchery.
I recommend that the first step in spirit contact be through developing relationships with your ancestral dead. I’ve already written a how-to on ancestral veneration and a follow-up on why photos of the living don’t belong on the ancestral altar, but a few more questions were posed to me about ancestral spirits vs. other kinds of guides and how reincarnation fits in.
Ancestral spirits are the ancient dead with whom we are related to by blood. Typically, we do not know the names of these ancestors, which can seem like a barrier at first but really isn’t a barrier at all. The ancestral spirits we don’t know still know us, and we can form a working relationship with them by beginning to honor them.
I include the recent dead in my ancestral veneration, and the recent dead can be family as well as friends, animal companions, and those you share kinship with in vocation and seek mentorship from (I honor Madeleine L’Engle and Sybil Leek, for example). Sometimes ancestral animal companions can become totemic guardian spirits for a family line if they are honored inter-generationally, as well.
The recent dead are the spirits in the Otherworld who are closest to us. We had a relationship with them in life (or at least knew of them) so it’s easier to have a relationship with them after they’ve died. The recent dead are often the gateway to the rest of our ancestral spirits because of this stronger bond, and by honoring them along with the ancient ancestors they help us connect with the whole of our ancestry.
There is a very practical reason for beginning spirit work with ancestral veneration: these spirits have a natural inclination to protect you and have your back. They are the safest to work with and honor because they are family. You are their progeny. They want to see you safe and successful. You may have other spirit guides, but they don’t necessarily have the same motivations and they are not bound to you (and you to them) by blood as you are with your ancestors.
As for reincarnation, I don’t view it as a static reality. Spirits can choose to reincarnate, but I tend to see it as the exception rather than the rule, and highly individualized. Beyond this, time is much different in the Otherworld than it is here so the chances of you trying to connect with a particular ancestor and them having reincarnated is incredibly unlikely. A thousand years can pass here and it is like a day has passed in the Otherworld. Our recent dead don’t usually reincarnate within our lifetimes.
Psychic development and spirit contact go hand in hand. Spirits often communicate with us in ways more akin to body language. Their communication is usually quite symbolic and can be very strange and subtle. Communication with ancestral spirits is often easier to recognize because of the existing bond. Developing the intuition to recognize it is important. Putting effort into developing your psychic abilities will enhance your relationships with your ancestral spirits and any other spirits you decide to get to know by making communication more effective and clear.