Pagan Paths

It’s a common thing to hear that there’s a difference between our magical lives and our mundane lives. In reality, we have the ability to step into ritual and devotion each and every day.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Of Ancestors and Devotion

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

So here I am at Samhain-tide again. Like many Pagans this is the "big one", our month when we get to be as witchy as we want and it goes mostly unnoticed because everyone out there in the Western world is hanging up skeletons and foam cut outs of owls and black cats.

It's also the month where I find myself running from pillar to post, organizing and priestessing all sorts of Samhain-related events. As is often the case, I'm part of the organising team for the 35th annual Reclaiming Spiral Dance in San Francisco. I'll be part of North Bay Reclaiming's Samhain ritual and this year I'll be at a four day retreat in the Mendocino Woodlands called "Mysteries of Samhain". I'm fortunate to be a busy witch.

For me though,  Samhain is a tide rather than a one day event or even just a few weeks in October. It runs from right after the Autumnal Equinox, through Yule, and ends somewhere before Imbolc. Those months where there's less light and less daily hub-bub. That time of year when I'm much more likely to want stews and fires and over-sized sweaters. That time of year when I sound like a badly written personal ad "I like long walks on the beach in silence, and staying in bed listening to the rain." It's also a time when I'm acutely aware of my Ancestors.


A word about ancestors - There are many types of ancestors. There are my family members that have come and gone before me and have contributed to my DNA. A few I know, some I have old pictures and stories of, a handful are names dating back several hundreds of years, but most I'll never know. Then there are Ancestors! Those who I am spiritually inclined towards. These might include huge swaths of groups throughout history like those from the ancient tribes of Britain and Wales or those that have practiced the Craft before me.

So what do i do to ritually and devotionally honour my ancestors of blood, ancestors of spirit and Ancestors of the Craft?

  • I build - I set up an ancestors altar in a prominent place. Actually, I have this up year round, but I clean it off, re-arrange it, add mementos, pictures, slips of paper with the names of by beloved dead and decorate it with flowers and other offerings.


  • I eat - I know. It's my favourite part of ritual too! I make foods that my ancestors liked. In the case of my beloved grandmother, it's shepherd's pie and marrow fat peas. I encourage the baking of bread in the house (my partner bakes, I burn!) as my grandmother always had fresh baked bread.


  • I read - I'm fortunate to know where many of my ancestors are from. I read up on where they lived, what was happening in the world at that time. I immerse myself in the politics and practices that would have had an impact on their lives. In the case of ancestors of the Craft, I re-read the books they wrote or their biographies and look at what they contributed to the Craft as I know it today.


  • I remember - "What is remembered lives." It's something we pagans say when someone passes. It's a practice I really work to uphold. My dad was a great singer, guitar player and he loved chess. When I play my guitar or whip out the chess board I think of him. I speak his name and I thank him out loud for the ways  in which he enriched my life. I tell stories or pass on wisdom or recipes or explain why this witch or that ancestor was so special to me. I speak their names. I recount their stories. I remember them.


What are your practices at this time of year? How do you honour those that came before you? 

*Pictured above are my grandparent's, George and Lilian on their wedding day, September 30th 1944 and my great grandmother Florrie, Romany traveler and all around wise woman.

Last modified on
I've been a practicing witch and ritualist within the Reclaiming Tradition since 2003. I love being in service with this community of witches and world changers.   My own practice, my own way of changing the world is through devotional practice. It's my belief that we can re-enchant our lives by re-framing the so-called "mundane" as sacred and divine. By imbuing the familiar with a sense of wonder and infusing daily life with acts of magic, we choose to consciously make all of life devotion. Whether we engage in large, public rituals or sink sumptuously into the pure ecstasy of eating a delicious meal by ourselves or meditating at sunrise, our daily rituals can draw us back into harmony with the world and each other.  


  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan Friday, 03 October 2014

    Thanks for the post. I love this season, too, especially the fact that I sometimes pass as "normal" during this time. Also fascinating how so many different religions and cultures see the veil as thinning this time of year.

  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven Friday, 03 October 2014

    Thank you Annika - It's that lovely liminal space, you know. Not this. Not that. Now

  • Please login first in order for you to submit comments

Additional information