How to Connect with Your Ancestor Spirits

How to talk to your ancestors
This reminds me of the funeral masks made by the Ancient Greeks and Romans to honour their ancestors

If you’ve been curious about working with your ancestor spirits, now is an excellent time of year to start, because the dark of the year is a great time to listen to otherworldly voices and connect with the shadow lands.

We’re nearing Samhain, which is the ancient Celtic holiday that Halloween is based on.

All the Halloween zombies and ghosts are half-remembered reminders of an ancient truth: around the end of October, the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead grows thin.

We now have a heightened opportunity to reach across the divide and communicate with all the spirits of those who have passed.

Here are some tips for developing relationships with your ancestors:

First, keep in mind that your ancestors are as diverse as your living family.  They might not all want to talk with you, especially in the context of a Pagan ritual.  While most ancestors interact with their descendants in a loving and encouraging manner, some are difficult or quarrelsome.

If you have an especially trying time interacting with your deceased family, keep in mind that there are multiple types of ancestors you can work with.


Who are my Ancestors?

Ancestors of spirit are all those who inspire you, whose work you carry on in the world, who built the tools and traditions you use in your life.

Your ancestors of spirit might include the Witches and Pagans of the past.  Your ancestors of spirit might include the writers and musicians and artists whose work has touched your heart, lifted your spirits, or inspired you to create yourself.  They might include activists who have fought for the rights and opportunities that you enjoy.  They might include the people who founded the field you work in, the people who started the hobbies that fill your life with joy.


Ancestors of place include all the beings who once lived in the area you live.

They extend beyond other human beings to include the animals who lived and died, the plants who flourished and decayed.  The ground you walk on is literally made out of the bodies of those plants and animals, those ancestors of place.  If you live in a city, your ancestors of place include all the human hands who planned and built and cared for the houses and streets that make up your world.


Ancestors of blood are the people you’re physically descended from.

Their bones are your bones; their blood flows through your veins.  You can imagine yourself as the bud on a branch of a great tree, with roots extending far into the past.  You are the child and the grandchild and the great-grandchild of people who survived, at least long enough to reproduce.  Whatever else your family might have done or failed to do, they brought you into this world.


How to build relationships with these Ancestor Spirits

All three types of ancestors have given us many gifts. 

An excellent way to begin developing relationships with them is by expressing your gratitude for the many gifts they’ve given you.  Your ancestors of blood gave you your body and your life.  All the other experiences you enjoy are based on this first gift.

Your ancestors of place give you solid ground to walk on, a home to shelter you, perhaps a lovely garden to enjoy.  Your ancestors of spirit give you inspiration, magical tools and ways to understand the world.

Building an Ancestor Altar

When we are trying to build a relationship with a living person, we might invite them to dinner.  In order to do something similar with ancestors, we can build an ancestor altar.  This creates a space for them in our homes. 

An ancestor altar can be as simple as a table with a candle and a few photos of loved ones who have passed, or as complex as a full spread of magical tools with a pentagram at the centre.

Try sitting with your ancestor altar once a day or once a week, as your schedule allows.  Thank you ancestors for what they’ve given you.  Tell them about your life.  Ask for their advice.  And simply allow yourself to listen.  Your ancestors may make specific requests from you.  They might want you to light a candle for them, or burn a certain kind of incense.  They might want to be served a small plate of the food you eat for dinner, or a glass of water.

Be patient and generous and your connection with your ancestors will flower.

By Allison Grey


StormJewel: Thanks for another fantastic article Allison!  There’s lots to learn and do from this.

I’d love to hear your ancestor experiences, or even just whether you think you will be trying this or not.  Let us know below!  Blessings!

Samhain and Halloween – what does it mean?

English: Halloween pumpkin.
English: Halloween pumpkin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Halloween is one of the most popular holidays in whole world. This celebration in the West means pumpkins, witches and ghosts. In other countries where Christian and Catholic roots are prevalent, the Day of the Dead is celebrated, but what’s it really about and how can you celebrate it?.

As with many festivals that we celebrate today, such as Christmas and Easter, Halloween comes from Pagan times, and was (and is still by many Pagans) called Samhain, which can be pronounced Sow-een, Sow-in or Sav-ain and is usually celebrated from or somewhere between October 31st and November 11th..

Samhain is a time when the boundaries between the living and the dead become blurred and thin, and it is the time of the year when it is supposed to be easiest for the dead to come to the earthly realm.  This has perhaps lead to the idea that Halloween is a scary time – but it should be one of respect and celebration!

I went to a Catholic girls school many years ago (kind of funny when you become a Pagan, RE lessons were always a big debate!) and my head teacher explained at assembly that Halloween is a scary time, and the following day (Day of All Saints or All Hallows) is to get rid of this badness and let the ‘good’ in.

I politely explained afterwards that in fact Halloween (Hallows Eve) and All Saints Day were derived from the Pagan festival Samhain and is about honouring the dead, and to her credit she took it on board and asked me to do the assembly next year!

As most Pagans and Wiccans believe in reincarnation, or the spirit of a person or animal as continuing in some way, this time of year is special since it represents a celebration of continued life.

Many other cultures also have a time to honour their dead, for instance in Mexico they have Los Dias De Las Muertos or ‘The Day of the Dead.’ Samhain is also the last of the Harvest festivals, as for Pagans in the Northern Hemisphere, it coincides with the last harvest before winter.  This is where the pumpkins come into it as they represented food from the harvest!


How you can celebrate Samhain

Ceramic Mini Cauldron for burning Incense
Ceramic Mini Cauldron for burning Incense

Like any Pagan festival, the way is open for you to celebrate in whichever feels right.  However here are some traditional ways and guidelines that you may wish to follow.

A word of warning: If you are not an experienced Witch or Pagan to avoid such things as chanting or drumming to raise the dead, unless you are with experienced magick workers, as these are very strong energies! It is also wise to ask goddesses or whoever you like to invoke, for protection.


Decorating your altar

In keeping with the harvest theme, why not decorate your altar with pumpkins, corn or hay, gourds or conkers, or anything else relating to the season. (Just use what is around if you are from the southern hemisphere!) Offerings of cakes and ale are also appropriate.

Black candles are also ideal, especially ritually charged black candles, which help to provide protection.

The cauldron is also an important symbol for Halloween, you might wish to put a mini cauldron incense burner there, and burn something like frankincense or myrrh which are traditionally used to honour the dead.


Ritual ideas..

  • As mentioned, the cauldron is often important for Samhain rituals, so if you have a big one, this could be the focal point of your ritual.
  • You might wish to invite the Crone or Wise Woman to bring wisdom to you, or the story of the Goddess Cerridwen.
  • For honouring and contacting the dead, ritual drumming or chanting can be excellent. Why not place items of those you wish to honour on your altar?
  • Bobbing for apples is an ancient Pagan tradition, as apple magick was highly valued.  When you catch the apple in your teeth a little of your soul is supposed to creep into the apple and then you can either eat it for prosperity or bury it in your garden or a green space nearby to ensure abundance over the coming winter months.
  • You may wish to try crystal ball scrying or some other method of divination to contact those you wish to honour and communicate with.Isis for Magical Inspiration

Goddesses and Gods you can Invoke..

  • Hecate
  • Cerridwen
  • Morrigan
  • The Wise Woman (Crone)
  • Anubis
  • Isis
  • Ishtar
  • Cernunnos

Whichever way you choose to celebrate Samhain, it’s a great time to honour the dead, celebrate life and appreciate the changing of the seasons.




Have any good Samhain ritual tips or things you like to do? Let me know in the comment box!