Ancestral witchcraft is a witchcraft tradition that focuses heavily on connecting to one’s ancestors spiritually and magically.
𝔄𝔫𝔠𝔢𝔰𝔱𝔯𝔞𝔩 𝔚𝔦𝔱𝔠𝔥𝔠𝔯𝔞𝔣𝔱 𝔳𝔰. 𝔖𝔬𝔲𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯𝔫 ℭ𝔬𝔫𝔧𝔲𝔯𝔢
Ancestral witchcraft relies heavily on the ancestors’ guidance, protection and aid in magical workings, similar to Hoodoo. But the difference is, where Hoodoo honors their ancestors (the people brought here from Africa and sadly enslaved), ancestral witchcraft is based on the practitioner’s personal ancestors of whom can be from any and every culture. Where Southern Conjure and Hoodoo are considered folk magic practices, ancestral witchcraft is considered a witchcraft tradition.
𝔇𝔞𝔦𝔩𝔶 𝔞𝔫𝔠𝔢𝔰𝔱𝔯𝔞𝔩 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔠𝔥𝔠𝔯𝔞𝔣𝔱 𝔭𝔯𝔞𝔠𝔱𝔦𝔠𝔢𝔰
Where other witches may evoke gods and goddesses, the ancestral witch relies heavily on his or her ancestors. This means prayer and daily communication with the ancestors. It also means when performing a ritual or casting a spell, the ancestral witch calls on his or her ancestors for aid. This isn’t to say the ancestral witch never calls on other deities or spirits, but his or her ancestors are the mainstay.
𝔚𝔥𝔬 𝔞𝔯𝔢 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔞𝔫𝔠𝔢𝔰𝔱𝔬𝔯𝔰 𝔞𝔫𝔡 𝔴𝔥𝔶 𝔴𝔬𝔯𝔨 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔥 𝔱𝔥𝔢 𝔞𝔫𝔠𝔢𝔰𝔱𝔬𝔯𝔰?
Ancestors can be people from your lineage such as distant relatives and those part of your family tree. These can also be people from your cultural heritage that you share a commonality with. They can be viewed as elders in your cultural background. Ancestors can provide guidance, wisdom and messages to help you in your every day life and your spiritual journey.
In a way, they can be compared to spirit guides in that they can work with you to help you achieve your goals in this life. However, they have a blood connection to you and are more closely connected to this physical world as they have lived in it previously. Some spirit guides have never taken a physical form while others have. Spirit guides have chosen to become guides based on their knowledge and skills in certain areas which they work closely with you for the purpose that aligns with their expertise.
While you have a spirit guide family, the ancestors are your lineage and cultural family. They are part of who you are. You share a cultural DNA marker with them passed down through generations. You can choose to work with them in magick and spell crafting, seek guidance from them or understand yourself, your background and discover more about patterns and behaviours that are generational or have been inherited in the family.
𝔎𝔫𝔬𝔴 𝔶𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔠𝔲𝔩𝔱𝔲𝔯𝔢 𝔱𝔬 𝔨𝔫𝔬𝔴 𝔶𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔄𝔫𝔠𝔢𝔰𝔱𝔬𝔯𝔰
How ever you choose to work with your ancestors, you should have a good understanding of the culture of your ancestors. If you come from a mixed background, you may feel connected to one side of your family more than the other. If you were raised in the traditions of one cultural background, but not another of the family background, you may feel more inclined to that culture as you’re more familiar with it.
However, explore all your cultural backgrounds to get a better understanding of them. You can work with all your cultural backgrounds as they are a part of you or you may choose to stick with one rather than the others. Understand the customs and traditions of your heritage and research folk customs as well. Some may be outdated, but nonetheless may have been what your ancestors practiced.
Learn more about traditional foods and methods of making them to feel more connected with your ancestral heritage and your ancestors.
Setting up a shrine in your home is a special way to honour your ancestors which can be as simple or elaborate as you wish. You can use a shelf or table to create your shrine. Place a cloth over the shelf or table and display photos of your deceased relatives, add crystals, flowers, keepsakes, heirlooms, family antiques or whatever you wish to make it special to you.
Offerings can be made at your ancestor shrine such as alcohol libations, food, tobacco, incense and special items such as crystals. These offerings can be made regularly or on special occasions. Keeping a shrine to the ancestors is something that needs to be maintained and looked after to keep it clean and neat as a way to respect and honour your ancestors.
The difference between using a shrine for your ancestors and the altar is that magickal workings are done at the altar.
You can set up photos and other items to represent your ancestors on your altar to invite them into your magickal workings and spell craft. Cultural items can also be added to connect you to your cultural background. When performing magickal workings with ancestors, offerings of thanks should be made such as with alcohol, food, tobacco and/or incense.
In some traditions, specifically around special occasions, it can be customary to set an extra place and plate at the dinner table for those who have passed before you. This is a tradition that my family holds at every family dinner on holidays.
At Samhain, there is a pagan tradition called the “Dumb Supper” in which the meal is observed in silence from start to finish to honour those who have crossed over.
Reserving a specific candle to honour your ancestors can be used anytime and anyplace. You can make your own candle or use a decorative candle for only this purpose. Place it on your shrine, altar or table and use anytime that you want to honour, welcome and/or work with your ancestors and those who have passed before you.
This candle can also be lit on anniversaries of those who have passed away and on special occasions when you wish their presence was with you. For example is the Jahrzeit candle which is as a Jewish tradition of lighting the candle for honouring someone on the anniversary of their death, and can also be lit on the eve of Yom Kippur or on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
ℌ𝔬𝔴 𝔱𝔬 𝔴𝔬𝔯𝔨 𝔴𝔦𝔱𝔥 𝔶𝔬𝔲𝔯 𝔄𝔫𝔠𝔢𝔰𝔱𝔬𝔯𝔰
Working with the ancestors is entirely by personal choice and how you choose to work with them is up to you. Here’s a few ideas on how to work with your ancestors:
ℌ𝔢𝔞𝔩𝔦𝔫𝔤 & 𝔄𝔡𝔳𝔦𝔠𝔢
Asking for advice and wisdom is one of the best ways to work with the ancestors and to understand yourself and your family line. Certain behavioural patterns and health matters are inherited and you can work with your ancestors to understand them better and to bring healing to yourself and even to your ancestors. Your ancestors can help you to heal ingrained patterns that may have developed from childhood which can also be a result of what your parents went through during their childhood (which gets passed down).
Working with ancestors can help heal cyclic patterns inherited through generations. If you feel there’s a cyclic pattern, addiction or behaviour that is passed down from generation to generation, your ancestors can help to work with you to realise these patterns and to heal what has stemmed likely from an ancestor.
Your ancestors are a part of you and can be an addition to your spiritual support group. If you have difficulty connecting with your spirit guides or just can’t seem to grasp them, consider connecting and working with your ancestors to receive guidance.