Hail, Welcome, Alafia, Hola, and Hello! This is our final installment of the month long Ancestor Remembrance Project. We have eaten, danced, and waxed poetically about those who have gone before. The sacred veil is definitely thin this time of year, known as Samhain to Pagans, and Halloween to the rest.
This project has been a month long one, and here on Voodoo Universe honor of the ancestors is a daily practice, so I almost forgot how different the days of saints, souls and sinners can really be when they are upon us. It’s an emotional time and hopefully the words here will help.
My partner for this project was Michael Hardin, and I can safely say I think we both learned a lot about seeing ancestors in a different light. His post about Ancestors and the Spirit World certainly made me smile when I read “ the dead do not communicate with Christians.” It’s true in my experience they don’t, not the way the speak to us in African Traditional Religions. Those messages can come to us through possession, divination, or a number of other ways. Serious training is undertaken before doing any of these things, so as usual, the advice is “Don’t try this at home.” This is because it may not be something or someone nice you end up contacting. In general however, the traditions I practice, New Orleans Voodoo, Haitian Vodou, and La Regla Lucumi (Santeria,) believe there is much knowledge to be gained from the ancestors. They are consulted for guidance just as much, if not more often, than when they were alive. Death allows them, and us, a different viewpoint.
Even though most people don’t communicate with the dead in the same way practitioners of Voodoo or Vodou can, I think everyone has their own special unique way of making meaning around death and remembering those they love who have passed. It may be seeing your daughter’s favorite flower in the snow, making your dear friend Cayne’s Kale Salad, finding a box of your parents’ photographs that you didn’t even know existed, or pulling out Grandpa’s old rosary, each of these can be a special connection and a new way of knowing. Do we have to put a label on it ? Prayers in any language are sacred and holy. The ancestors should be important to all of us. We should recognize and celebrate whichever way they choose to return to us- be it rediscovering an old recipe or headstone, a song we can’t get out of our head, or the smile of a newborn relative that we haven’t recognized in generations. Many blessings to you and your ancestors ! I leave you with one of the most famous Grateful Dead ever, Jerry Garcia himself, performing just what happened to be one of my Nana’s favorite songs, particularly appropriate for the beloved ancestors- Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes