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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
An Imbolc Message from the Ancestors

We are living in what the Goddess calls the Great Turning: an evolutionary/revolutionary transition where the future of humanity and our Earth home will be decided. The Great Turning is here, now. We’re in the midst of the muck and mess of world-shattering change.

My dreams and ritual work have been preparing me for the Great Turning for many years. As the pressures build, and the outer world gets noisier and more chaotic, I find myself digging through these magical experiences, seeking the deep vision and guidance of the Mysteries.

Imbolc has arrived — a between time when light and shadow dance together, and the darkness and death of Winter give way to the light and life of Spring  —  and a memory of a previous Imbolc ritual comes to me.  

In this ritual, the priestesses guided the participants to return to their moment of conception to reclaim the passion and purpose that drew each of them from the realm of spirit into this world of matter. My priestess task was tending the Sacred Witness, a veiled, silent observer, to keep her grounded and protected while she opened herself to the deepest roots of our magic.

The Sacred Witness found herself in a place where the spirits of the dead and the souls yet to be born gather between the worlds. In sharing this ritual experience with the Sacred Witness, the ancestors came to me and spoke through me, and this is what they said:

“We have cut the cord. It is time for you to travel on your own. You are fully grown now, and we set you free in this world. Be big, be beautiful, be yourself. The world needs you. We believe in you. Shine bright. Make us proud.”

After the ritual was complete, a friend took me in her arms as waves of grief flooded through me, my whole body shaking as the ancestors cried through me and with me: for the pain of their stories; for the pain that they’ve passed on generation after generation; for the desperate need of this ending; for the sweet beauty of this world that they’re leaving behind; and for their forever love for us, their children, and this world’s greatest hope.

The ancestors are personal and archetypal; they’re the ones that have gone before us, both as part of our personal family and ethnic/cultural heritage, and our collective humanity. Their lived experiences and stories are woven into the fabric of our shared human reality, and the particulars of our family mythology and everyday lives. This world we live in, right now in 2017, is constructed of their stories where fear and the worst of our human instincts overrule love and our best qualities.

These stories of our ancestors are done. They’ve served their purpose of bringing us to this evolutionary/ revolutionary moment. Our ancestors have cut the cord, and seek an end to their pain and grief. And it’s each of us, their children, the waking ones, that must do the hard, messy, transformative work of putting our ancestors to rest.

This is happening right now, all around us, in the noise and chaos unfolding on the world stage. Our ancestors’ stories are unraveling before our eyes, and we’re being called to join in this work of disassembling the stories that trap us in a reality of fear and the worst of our humanity: stories on how to live and dream; stories that tell us who and what matter in our human society; stories that have passed on patterns of wounding and coping; stories that dim our light and hide our beauty; stories that hold the secrets and lessons that will ripen us into our true selves; stories that are the ancestors’ final gifts to us.

Imagine yourself as Sacred Witness in these Great Turning times. Let yourself sink deep between the worlds, and see the tumult on the world stage as the death process of our ancestors’ stories. Some of these stories will call to you; they’ll speak to your ancestral lineage, personal life experiences, and the very passion and purpose that drew your soul to this world of matter.  

Claim these stories as your own. Let them guide your healing and action taking, and transform you into your full maturity and power. Always, choose love over fear, and your best instincts over your worst. Make this your soul work and contribution to the great task of mending our human society. Do these momentous, world-shattering things and our ancestors’ stories will have served their sacred purpose. Endings will come, rest will come, and we, their grownup children, will dream and story the world afresh.

Though this work may seem overwhelming, perhaps even impossible, remember the ancestors love you, believe in you, and know you’re the world’s greatest hope. Be big, be beautiful, be yourself. The ancestors have passed this precious world onto you, onto each of us. Let’s make them proud. 

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The Parentalia: Honoring the Ancestors and Beloved Dead

It is bedtime. My daughter and I are cuddled up, and it is story time. This is our nightly ritual. Some nights, when she's not so tired, we read myths. She is nearly 4, and her attention span is not that of an adults, so most nights we read about My Little Pony or Olivia like your normal family.

Tonight, though, she brings me Neil Gaiman's Blueberry Girl. There was a point where I couldn't read through it without crying, and I'm secretly thankful that I've steeled myself slightly to the beautiful prayer the author wrote for his daughter.

Within the first few pages, my daughter grabs my hand to still it, and looks a long time at the picture of beautifully aged women looking lovingly over a wandering, wondrous girl. She asks, “Are they the Ancestors?”

I'm suddenly tearing up anyway. This time my eyes are welling up with pride. She's connected it. She's starting to understand the nature of Ancestors – That They watch over us.

Until this point, I've avoided using anything but English words for the Gods (which for a Roman polytheist can include at least some of the Ancestors), but on this night I kiss the top of her head and say with pride and delight, “Yes, these are special Ancestors. We call Them the Matronae. They are the Big Mothers who look after us and make sure we have a good life.”

“Matronae,” she says, turning the R into a W. It's adorable. It's amazing to hear the word on the lips of the young, fae-like creature my entire world has come to revolve around. It means even more as I slowly write a book about the Matronae of the Missouri River.

My daughter gets it. She understands.

Maybe I'm not failing as a parent as much as I thought.

“It's Parentalia,” I remind her. “This is a time for the Ancestors.”

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Ancestors and Integration

I learned something fascinating this weekend.  I learned that as women, when we are in our mother's womb, we already have all the ovum (eggs) that we will release during our fertile years. So, to put that into context, when my mother was in my grandmother's womb, I was also there, partly, as one of the eggs that would be fertilised by my father.  This link only occurs in women, and it just blew my mind.  I was in my grandmother's womb.

Our lines of ancestry can be glorious and transformational journeys of discovery. Not only in a historical sense, exploring records and genealogy, but also connecting spiritually with our ancestors.  As the darkness creeps in and the days get shorter, in the cooling air with the harvest being taken in the fields all around me, my thoughts turn to my ancestors and to the self, releasing into the approaching autumn and finding great comfort and joy in the letting go.

In order to release that sense of self, however, we must first come to know our self.  Exploring who we are, where we came from, what makes us "us" is key to this work.  Understanding circumstances, experiences, lines of ancestry can enrich our lives and help us to uncover depths of our own soul that may have previously escaped our notice.

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