Ancestors in Paganism
By Blood and Bone, I Honor You
As an initiated, traditional Wiccan, ancestor work was not part of my training but growing up Filipino and Catholic, ancestors was engrained in both my mundane and spiritual life. We had a shrine for our ancestors as equal to our shrine to St Michael, Mother Mary and Jesus. So, as a practicing Wiccan, I incorporated my childhood practices into my adult religion. Lately, I have seen more Wiccans speak and write about ancestor work which is encouraging. It has allowed me to explore my beliefs with others that have similar paths – to compare and contrast my actions and even validate my experiences.
First, who are the ancestors? The ancestors are normally considered people from your family who have passed. There are those family members that have passed in recent memory – yours or those around you – and some that have been gone for generations. If you research ancestors, you will certainly find a depth and breadth of details to whom ancestors could be but we will limit this current article to your family who have passed. As a special note, you do not need to personally know an ancestor to work with an ancestor. You did not arrive on this earth by spontaneous generation. The blood in your veins are connected to those who have come before you. You have ancestors.
Next, how can we work with ancestors? Ancestors are similar to other entities in that you can create an altar or shrine, provide offerings, and communicate with them. Find items that remind you of your ancestors that you would like to honor. If you have photos, then add them to your space. Invoke all of your senses by adding dedicated candles and incense or oils. If you do not have photos or items, then choose an item that you will dedicate as representing your ancestors. For offerings, start with something as simple as a glass of water. But if you know any favorite foods, drinks or vices your ancestors had, then use those items as your offering. And if you want to communicate with your ancestors, you can choose to simply meditate and listen. But I would recommend choosing a divination tool dedicated for your ancestors to assist with communication – a special tarot deck or rune set may be a satisfying task to perform.
Finally, do not overcomplicate this process. When a loved one passed, I used the prayer card that was offered at the funeral and a favorite photo to build my altar that was nothing more than a slice of space on my vanity that I marked with a handkerchief. For offerings, I used rice that is staple food in my home which I know most all of my ancestors ate (see my Filipino reference above). For communication, I used a loved but unused tarot deck until I could find another tool that seemed more personal (Pinoy Practical Magic tarot deck).
As we get closer to Samhain and All Soul’s Day, the veil between the living world and spirit realm thins so that even those who may not feel sensitive to spirits may start sensing more activity. Allow yourself to feel and hear what is around you (hint: go outside). Take the energy of the New Moon to start this new practice. Provide offerings weekly. And on Samhain, celebrate all those who have passed as well as your Ancestors with a traditional annual dumb supper.
If you would like to learn more about working with ancestors, then come to our monthly pagan chat night at the airport Denny’s. This month’s topic is on Offerings and we will be discussing ancestors during this topic.
Things You See In the Graveyard
When spooky season rolls around people will watch scary movies, decorate their houses, and go to haunted houses. One thing this might have in common is the use of a graveyard. Everyone has different ideas of what graveyards are but everyone has heard different superstitions that spring up around them; like flowers or zombies. I wanted to look at a couple of these classic superstitions.
Have you ever held your breath when you drive past a graveyard? There are a few reasons that are brought up of why this is done. The first is that breathing in will allow a spirit to enter into you when you inhale leading to possession or nightmares. Another is that the dead will become jealous of the fact you are still breathing and want to take revenge. Last if your last breath is by a graveyard it will doom your soul.
You hear the moans coming from a fresh grave, could it be a zombie, a vampire or maybe vivisepulture better known as being buried alive. With modern burial techniques the chances of one being prematurely interned are basically zero, so you can rest in your coffin easier when the time comes. This was not always the case, the fear of being buried alive was so prevalent that the invention of safety coffins happened. The term dead ringer is falsely attributed to some of these coffins that had a bell that the interred could ring to alert those around.
For those that enjoy a nice walk through a cemetery do not worry, that sound you heard was just the wind.
Recommended Reading – Dark Goddess Craft
For years now, one of my favorite books has been “Dark Goddess Craft: A Journey Through the Heart of Transformation,” by Stephanie Woodfield. (Btw, for those unaware, she’s local to Orlando, runs Pagans in the Park, and is just a great person.) Part history, part workbook, it teaches you about Goddesses across various cultures who are considered ‘darker’ in nature. Obviously, the word ‘darker’ is a bit subjective. These goddesses and their nature vary, but they all stem from an almost primal place. When we are at our most vulnerable, defeated, desperate…. These are the ones who have lived the struggle, come out on the other side, and can be our guides to do the same.
The book takes you through each Goddess’ origins. Each one’s section begins with a guided meditation to introduce you to them, which is fantastic if you’re looking to work with any of them. These are followed by more nuts and bolts of how to reach out and honor them. As we approach what many celebrate as the New Year, if you’re the type to make resolutions, but need a kick in the ass, some motivation, or a guide in these darker times, consider grabbing this compendium and giving it a read. I’m certain you will find one of these Goddesses calls to you and can help navigate you over any of life’s humps.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
It might not be the most popular dish, but I have always LOVED a good bread pudding. It can be a fast, easy, tasty breakfast that can pair great with a hot cup of tea on a fall or winter morning. It calls for ‘day old’ bread, but really 2-4 day old is perfectly fine too. Basically as long as it’s not growing mold, you’re good. It’s not complicated to throw together, and can be made the day before (since the goal is for the bread to soak up the ingredients), and refrigerated. And the bourbon sauce adds a great flavor for the pudding, but it’s basically bourbon flavored caramel, if you’re dry or lazy, a decent store bought caramel sauce is just as good.
- Bread Pudding
- Cooking spray
- 3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 7 cup day-old brioche, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
- Bourbon Sauce
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. bourbon
- Preheat oven to 350°F with the rack in the middle position. Grease an 8-by-8-inch baking dish.
- Whisk together pumpkin, eggs, milk, cream, sugar, butter, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, ginger, and nutmeg in a bowl until smooth.
- Fold in bread and pecans. Let stand 30 minutes.
- Transfer to prepared baking dish and bake until set, 30 to 35 minutes.
Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, without stirring, until sugar mixture is dark amber in color, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully add cream and bourbon, stirring until smooth.
General Meaning: Strength predicts the triumphant conclusion to a major life problem, situation or temptation through strength of character. It is a very happy card if you are fighting illness or recovering from injury.
Ruling Planet: Sun
Upright: Confidence, Enjoying power, Inner strength, Potency, Self-belief, Virility, Vitality
Reverse: Hedonism, Lack of self-control, Lacking courage, Self-doubt, Vanity
Samhain Sabbat Ritual
Mon, October 31, 2022, 9:00 PM – 10:30 PM EDT
Join us to celebrate the Wheel of the Year festival of Samhain. Please be aware that the ritual is VIRTUAL and will be held online through Zoom. A Zoom account is not required.
Please come as you are and have any ritual tools that you are comfortable with. As we will be conducting ritual virtually in front of our devices, adjustments to the ritual format will be made.
The Orlando Pagan Collective (OPC) started life out as The Wiccan Religious Cooperative of Florida (WRCF) in 1989 when two of its founding members hosted their first public Sabbat Circle in Cocoa Beach at Litha. The WRCF Inc. was incorporated in 1992 and was granted 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in 1993. We started doing business as OPC in 2011 in order to expand our outreach. With the change to a more inclusive name, OPC has a renewed energy to bring the community together.
Our Mission: The Orlando Pagan Collective exists to establish a stronger sense of community within the Greater Orlando & surrounding Central Florida areas, by developing mutually beneficial community services to help all Pagans practice their particular path or tradition.
Our Plan: Through fundraising, donations, and all of your support, we want to fund land open to all and for all paths – a place where we can come together in fellowship, free from judgment or other venue restrictions. This new, community space is where we can dance, drum and sing in celebration of our deities.
Our Vision: We see a future where there will be peace in our Pagan community that will foster more community activities, increase education opportunities, and provide stewardship in the community. It will also provide the non-Pagan community with an understanding of Pagans, their beliefs, and values.