Wasn‘t expecting this to start out with a Nike slogan but whatever, I guess that‘s the world we live in now. A world full of technology and smartphones and social media and also like, modern medicine and indoor plumbing and shit so don‘t get me wrong, I‘m not about to knock modernity, I appreciate living in the 21st century. For the most part.
But, you have to admit, we as a society may have gained in some areas but we sure as fuck lost in others. And when I say society, I mean the European diaspora of the Americas, us white people, we‘ve lost shit. And we‘ve taken shit, but that‘s an essay (or books full of essays) for another day. What I‘m speaking about specifically, is that we‘ve lost our connection to the dead.
In the times of old we could turn to the wax masks of the ancients hung in our homes, we could look to their graves and tombs that sat on our ancestral lands. Here in the Americas we have no ancestral land, the land we occupy is not our ancient homelands. Modernity and the choices of our ancestors has left us in isolation. We wander and we move and we forget.
When we the last time you visited a grave? Do you have graves to visit?
Can you lay flowers on the name stone of an ancestor, a loved one? Do you whisper their names and sing to them when you cook?
I‘m not here to make you feel guilty, who has the fucking time right? But if this is a path you‘re searching for, I am here to help you find it though overgrown it may be.
Okay, cool, what now?
Start with your family tree. Your ancestors and direct family have a vested interest (I‘d assume) in your life so I‘ve always found it makes the most sense to start with them. Begin with the most recently departed and build from there.
I‘ve never met these people, how can I get to know them?
I don‘t know, Karen, how do you get to know anyone? You talk to them. A name has power. Say their name. Hang their picture. Just start a dialogue. I never met my great-grandma Antoinette, she was an Italian immigrant and a devout Catholic, but when I‘m cooking tomato sauce using her recipe, I know immediately when something is about to boil or burn. She tells me. She tells me because I listen to her and when I‘m cooking I talk to her.
I say, “Bisnonna, I know Mary was sacred to you, I know you had a shrine for her in your house, I’m lighting her candle for you. Bisnonna, I know you taught my grandma this recipe and she taught my mother. Bisnonna, come visit me and my daughters, teach us how to cook.”
And she does.
I have met these people, but their deaths are too raw.
I get it. I talk to my dad all the time and I always cry. When I talk to my great-grandmas there is no grief, just joy that I‘m connecting with them. When I talk to my dad there is grief. There is so much fucking grief. Go slow, don‘t rush and when you‘re ready, talk to them.
My ancestors are assholes.
Ignore them! Don‘t say their names! You‘re under no obligation.
What about my way far back ancestors and shit?
Get to know them too. If you haven‘t taken up a journeying/soul-flight practice now would be a good time. If you‘re open and ready, your ancestors will find you. It‘s my opinion that when journeying your ancestors are in fact the easiest to communicate with. They‘re already there inside you, everything you are is made up of them.
An ancient grandmother of mine spoke to me on a rocky beach when I thought I‘d never have children. She told me I‘d be a mother, that I was always a mother and she was right.
Alright break it down, give me steps.
Step One: Learn ancestors’ names
Step Two: Say their names
Step Three: Talk to them like you‘re a crazy person
Step Four: Hang their photos and leave them offerings
Step Five: You are now venerating your ancestors
Just do it.