HOW Do We Honor our Ancestors?

Ceremony and Ritual

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t’s the final day of our exploration into the practice of Honoring Our Ancestors and today is all about the gritty details, the HOW.

So, you know what Ancestor you want to work with, you have found an object or item that brings them to mind for you, and maybe you have set that in s specific place where it won’t be disturbed. Now, what do you do?

Here are a number of different ways that you can begin engaging with your Beloved Dead:

• Building an altar, shrine, or house for your Ancestors. This is probably the most common way to begin developing a relationship with them and it does not have to be elaborate. You can simply set out a fresh glass of water by a picture or object you associate with your Ancestor and light some incense as a way to begin.

• Offering favored foods, drinks, clothing, objects, and flowers

• Representing the Ancestor with images, their handwriting, objects they treasured in life, graveyard dirt from their grave, ashes from their body, or other personal concerns

• Keeping a clean home — it is widely agreed that the Ancestors do not like to travel to or hang out in messy, cluttered spaces.

• Working with scent/incense — many cultures agree that of the five primary senses after death only our sense of smell remains fully intact. This is why pungent flowers like marigolds are used to mark out an Ancestral altar because they have a strong fragrance. Incense may be used for the same purpose. When working with scent think of it as building a road to the altar that the Ancestors may follow

• Party at the gravesite! Bring the favorite foods and drinks of your Ancestors to their gravesite where you can sit and have dinner with them!

• In some cultures the Ancestors are understood to remain in/at the altar or shrine all the time, in which case incense may be burned as a regular offering

• Food and drink should either be consumed by the living after remaining on the altar for a set amount of time or it should be discarded

• Consider the altar space of co-creation between yourself and your Ancestors. The primary objective is to honor them but you also want to use items that please you and put you in the right frame of mind to work with them.

• DO NOT offer alcohol to Ancestors who are alcoholics. DO NOT offer chemical substances (like nicotine) to Ancestors who had an addiction to that substance.

And remember, if you are beginning to explore a relationship with your Ancestors for the first time, it is perfectly appropriate to work with ONE at the time.

Now I know that there are a lot of suggestions and directions to go in with this work. You might be feeling a bit overwhelm and when you start receiving signs and communiques from your Ancestors that may leave you feeling ALL the feels.

This is why it’s a really good idea to have a relationship with a Go-Between.

A Go-Between is literally that. A Holy Helper who mediates between one thing and another – in this case the Living and the Dead.

Developing a relationship with a Go-Between gives you a place to begin focusing on your Ancestor work and also provides an extra layer of protection to you and your household as you begin this work.

There are many different Holy Helpers that are appropriate Go-Betweens to work with and I taught at length about this practice in the first week of Story Threads – which opens for registration today! You can learn more right here.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

️So…What IS An Ancestor?

Uncategorized

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f you have been paying attention to the news/social media then you probably have seen a bajillion (totally technical term) posts about Ancestors, Honoring the Ancestors, and celebrating specific Holy Days like Dia de Los Muertos. ancestor

Some of you may behold hats at Ancestor work, but for some of you this may be totally new territory, and/or you might feel like you need a refresher.

Others might feel like they aren’t allowed to do venerate their Ancestors – that these kinds of practices are only found in certain cultures and traditions – not the ones that you come from. For those of you who fall into that category, let me assure you that honoring and working with our Ancestors is something we find in so many traditions around the world – this is a practice that belongs to everyone.

So…over the next three days, I am going to give you all a series of teachings, right here, in your inbox, about how to work with, honor, and be in right relationship with, your Ancestors.

I am going to share some of the most fundamental information about working with your Ancestors so that you can get started doing exactly that if you want to.

At the end of the three day period, I will also invite those of you who haven’t already done so, to join Story Threads: Gathering the Bones with Santa Muerte and Liberating Innocence from the Sugar House with Hansel and Gretel.

This first half (one full week) of this course dives deep into Ancestor work and also introduces you to a very special Holy Helper: Santa Muerte, Our Most Holy Lady of Death.

If you aren’t interested in the course that is totally OK too! I still hope you read these emails and get familiar with the basics of working with our Beloved Dead, our Ancestors.

To begin with, though we need to clarify WHAT and WHO we are talking about…

Ancestor is a term referring to deceased relatives, kin, friends, and also historical figures

• Pets and companion animals that have passed on are also considered ancestors

• You may also have ancestral ties to places, certain objects — especially those passed down through a family, and even lines of work or service

• Ancestor is a term that can also refer to children who are deceased. We sometimes forget they are in this category but in my Ancestral celebrations, we have one day that we put aside specifically to honor the little ones who have passed.

When I speak of honoring or having right relationship to our ancestors I do not mean that you need to honor every single one of your deceased family members, rather honor the Ancestors that you felt a closeness to in life or those who have always been present to you.

If the deceased person in your life that you had the closest relationship to is your dog, then that is who you would put on the Ancestor altar.

If you cannot think of anyone deceased that you had a close relationship with then you may also work with your Ancestral line – this is your cultural and ethnic heritage and lineage. Most of us have more than one, but for the purposes of beginning work, it is best to pick just one.

Once you have decided on the Ancestor(s) you want to honor, find a way to represent them. You might include their picture, an item they gifted you during their life or an object that you associate with them. It might include some of their ashes if they were cremated or dirt from their grave if they were buried – there are lots of options!

Just pick one object and start there. Put it in a place where it cannot be disturbed and where you have space to add a few other objects in the days to come.

This is the first step in creating your own Honoring of the Ancestors. Tomorrow we will explore WHY you would want to honor your Ancestors in the first place.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Pluto as a Holy Helper

Ceremony and Ritual

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is story begins, as so many creation do, with a game of chance – the drawing of lots. Jupiter received the realms of heaven and earth, Neptune claimed the Ocean’s depths and Pluto, Pluto received the realm beneath all that is hidden and unseen, all that belongs to the Dead.

Here then is his first teaching: he rules through service, not mastery. His fealty is to the dead and the fallen, his realm their place of safety and sanctuary. Call on him then when you would speak to your own beloved dead, he will aid you in coming to know your ancestors.

He serves what others fear, what the living cannot know or seem, and so we can ask for his favor when we are attempting to understand the unseen and the unknown. He reveals the hidden ways and hidden wealth.

Miners and those who love and work with minerals, metals and gems should know him, for they all fall under his custodianship. At the height of his influence he was understood to be so powerful that even saying his name was too much. Leave an offering of honeycomb under the cover of night and head back to your family.

He is best known as the abductor and rapist of Persephone but the oldest tales weave a different story – there was a forbidden love there, one that demanded its participants to partake of both worlds – that of the living and that of the Dead.

We must know when and make space for him if we are to inhabit our full power and potential for transformation. For it is only when we know of death that we are truly able to appreciate life.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Jupiter as a Holy Helper

Ceremony and Ritual

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e (Jupiter as a Holy Helper) stops all forces that would devour life, feast on innocence, and annihilate good legacy, fast in their tracks, for he is firmly on the side of life and all that is life-giving. He is Sovereign and Sovereignty but also a feckless and inconstant husband who knows something of error, mistakes, and screw-ups, giving him a particular fondness for humanity. He is Wisdom and all ways and all roads that lead to it. He is the great teacher, the guide, the guru. It is easy to see his story as one full of winning – except that he wept along with the horses when his beloved Troy fell. Easy to see him as nothing more than the most perfect example of patriarchal chauvinism except that all his sister-wife need do is dab herself with a bit of perfume, place a necklace around her neck, beckoning to him to meet her in a field of flowers and he is simply brought to his knees. He is the eagle, the all-seeing and all-knowing who nevertheless pays obeisance to the older and ancient Goddesses. He is the father who adores his children, especially his daughters. The husband who tries and fails and never let’s go. He is boundless and the bringer of wealth, prosperity, abundance, and good fortune. He delights in discovery, learning, and takes joy anywhere people come together to make ritual and ceremony. He is the law bringer, oath binder, and oath keeper. He is the one who holds the space and beats the drum for the entire drama to play out. He is the storm caller and hurler of the divine bolt of lightning that can inspire and enlighten or burn it all down. He is Lord, King, Emperor, Sovereign of All, and he is the lowest of the low. We find him in the faces of the downtrodden, those without a home, family, or prospects, the wounded, and this diseased, the ones that most would turn away from. For it is here he is able to see us best, testing our mettle…do we help when someone is hurt, do we go towards the ones others would run from, do we walk our talk and be welcoming and hospitable to those who have no place of their own? He bears witness to how we serve others, for it is that more than anything else that reveals just how sovereign we truly are. Jupiter as a holy helper

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Holy Helper Mercury

Foundations

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e (Holy Helper Mercury) is the fleet footed one, quicksilver tongue, knowing and speaking all the languages that ever were or ever will be. The idea that turns into a story that grows into a life, every tale ever told, every lie ever uttered, every truth ever hidden. He is the shapeshifter taking on whatever form he will, the one who travels and tricks in equal measure, the love of good words and fantastic tale. He is the student, the teacher, and the road between them. He is the truth found only in darkness and the lie that sounds like pure truth. He is the clown, court jester, Koshare, Coyote jingle-jangling his way into the feast, completely inappropriate with rattle and hat, spitting watermelon seeds at all who are oh so serious and grave – in these moments he is the teacher of reverence. He is every book you have ever read and all of those you have not yet and never will. He is every word on every page and every speech ever made or unmade. He is sound and scent and the one who delights in all the winged ones. He is the very breath we take and the space between each breath. Love of Crossroads and roadways and all who travel, first of the Mages who knows all the ways of transformation, bending, twisting, talking, and turning. His nature is change. Find him in the wind promising the seasonal shift and the quiet breath exhaled in the deepest night to fan the final spark of the campfire and keep the tale going just a little bit longer. He is mouth, throat, tongue. He is a voice. And it is voice most of all that we offer to him — our voices, our words, our thoughts, our wisdom and foolishness and the promise to use them well, to make something beautiful, compelling, or interesting with them, as long as we are in the dance. You can burn incense to honor him, feed birds or butterflies, put on good perfume. But what he likes best, as all of us who serve him know, is the telling of a good tale. Sit down, take a breath, begin the spell…once upon a time… holy helper mercury

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Hearth and Home Vol. 20: Just Add Water

Lunar Letter

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t is hard to believe that I have not sent out a Hearth and Home since December of last year!

There have, of course, been Things Happening. First, for me, was the completion of the manuscript for my second book, Star Child.

I spent January, February, March, April, and May writing, polishing, and writing some more. My original due date was May 1st but due to the Coronavirus and myself and my husband suddenly finding ourselves thrust in the roles of homeschool teachers like so many other parents around the country, I received an extension and finally got the beast in the second week of May.

I am really excited about this book which explores how we can joyfully parent with Astrology as a guide – I think the past months have shown how much it is needed and I cannot wait to share more about it with you all!

At the beginning of March, I was in my beloved New Mexico, celebrating Jasper’s 9th (9!!!) birthday and eating dinner at one of my favorite restaurants with some dear friends.

By the time we drove back to Texas, everything was on lockdown, Spring Break turned into a semester of homeschooling and an appalling number of people grew sick and died from the virus.

Jasper’s school went online and Heath’s, our 2 year old, day school closed altogether for the semester. We found ourselves like everyone else adapting to a new rhythm and facing new questions and concerns, especially when it came to our children.

In our household, one of the things we learned early on was that the boys needed to get outside and move around and stretch their bodies first thing in the morning.

Our schedule morphed from making breakfast, packing up backpacks, ensuring teeth were brushed, diapers were clean, and clothes were on before loading up into the truck to get dropped off at school to herding everyone outside, applying lots of sunscreen and bug spray and making sure bike helmets were securely fastened. During our morning walks, we would chat about the schedule for the day and, after making the block we would return to the house and water the gardens.

Those of you who have been with me for a while know that I descend from a long line of farmers and gardeners, that I love plants, and that I grow many of the plants that I work with magically. I noticed though, as this past Spring found me more outside than I had been in a long time, that I had allowed gardening to take a back seat and in particular I had neglected the task of watering – one that I have always loved and enjoyed. Now, while I generally have a tough love philosophy with most of my plant allies (you kind of have to in South Central Texas), I was amazed and a little disappointed that I had somehow become too consistently “busy” to water the garden. The boys turned watering into a grand adventure and unsurprisingly I started seeing growth from plants I had forgotten I had even planted!

We are now in the dead heat of Summer so we have to wake up extra early to water, go for a walk, take care of the chickens, and all of the other animals we share our land with, but we do it and I do it because what I have learned, what I have remembered over the past few months, is that water is magic. Even though we are in the middle of 108 degrees July days our gardens are verdant and beautiful and nourished.

When I think about 2020 I see a year that has been full of what rootworkers call Crossed Conditions. From the virus to the anger on the streets and on the screen to needless and unjust deaths this year has tested all of our mettle.

The oldest understanding of Crossed Conditions is that they are times where we are dried up, dried out, and devitalized. The remedy is an invitation to do the opposite, to add water, to call upon the things that nourish, sustain, and protect…the things that keep us tender. What those medicines are is different for each person but now as we have just passed the mid-point of the year, I encourage yourself a couple of questions – consider it a ritual for today’s New Moon in Cancer.

1. What in my life has gone un-watered for too long?
2. How can I restore it?

The answers will surprise you and the remedies are almost always simpler than we think. Watering as a morning ritual, an act of devotion to our land does not solve all of the problems. It doesn’t make the answers easier either. But it does remind me that amid the dried up times that seem perfectly poised to suck the essence right out of us, there is an ally, a Holy Helper and that sometimes all we need to do is just add water.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.

Neptune Retrograde

Foundations

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In the ancient world there are moments in some of the better known stories and plays when the rivers begin to run backward. The seasoned reader knows that whenever that occurs something profound, and usually quite challenging, is about to happen. The event may be sudden but most often it is more gradual. The one sure thing is that once the rivers are running backward things are going to change and they won’t go back to the way things were before – they can’t. To my mind, this is an excellent illustration of what happens when the planet and holy helper Neptune goes retrograde.

First we must note that it is not uncommon for Neptune to spend as much or even more time retrograde as it spends moving directly. As one of the outermost planets its orbit is incredibly long and it takes its time moving through the sky – one of the aspects of this celestial helper we will return to in a moment. Neptune experiences a retrograde every year and that retrograde lasts between 6 and 7 months.

As I have written elsewhere, retrogrades of the outer planets are generally not believed to affect individuals as much as they are understood to give shape to global events. However, my personal and professional findings indicate something slightly different. What I have found is that we are all affected by outer planet retrogrades in different ways. There are those who can experience one outer planet retrograde and not even know that anything is happening. Those same people can experience another outer planet retrograde and be deeply affected by it. This speaks to something I have termed planet-sensitivities. We are especially sensitive to a planet when it is strongly aspected in our charts. So for instance, the planets that rule your Sun and Moon signs as well as your Ascendant, are all planets to watch. The planets that have strong aspects in your chart are also planets to pay attention to.

This means that when it comes to working with Neptune’s retrograde we have to look at both the global and potential personal effects.

Neptune is a planet strongly associated with the qualities of healing, spirituality, unconditional love, art and beauty, fantasy, romance, and the past. There is an otherworldly quality to Neptune (accentuated by the fact that the planet is retrograde for so long) that makes those born under its influence seem especially beautiful, magical, alluring, elusive, and also not quite of this world. The greatest challenge we find with the Neptunian flow is that of practical thinking and sound foundations. The visionary capacity we all possess is expanded by Neptune to a great degree but this is not the planet to remind us to put a foundation on those castles we have been building in the sky.

When Neptune retrogrades we collectively and globally have the opportunity to:

Review any fantasy-making that we have been engaged in and determine whether those fantasies can be turned into reality or whether they need to be banished altogether. Here we should think about collective fantasies that countries and nations are working with. Some endeavors may be called “fantastic” to deprive them of momentum and support while other agreements really are based on make-believe fantasy that needs to be sharply addressed and brought into line with reality.

Reflect on history, the mistakes, and the learnings from the past. Neptune’s retrograde can both encourage this reflection and also make it more difficult to glean the most useful insights from history. This is also a period of time when we may find our leaders or the leaders of other countries re-writing history to make it more acceptable or palatable.

Reconsider our attitudes towards healing. This includes mandates around health care and the status provided to health care providers, as well as access to basic necessities that promote health and healing worldwide. This period of time can also provide a useful review for new health and healing technologies and often the missing pieces that make such new methods possible are found during Neptune retrogrades.

Reengage global awareness around water and water rights. Water is the element of this planet and so issues around water and access to water are often first and foremost when we go into Neptune retrograde periods. Learning where your individual water comes from is a great start.

Refuse to dull our senses. Neptune’s influence can encourage more than one kind of fantasy making. Refusing to engage in fantasies that are harmful or going nowhere, refusing to let drugs, alcohol, or other poisons take precedent over what we collectively know to be good and healthy and useful, is a powerful move to make during Neptune Retrograde. We can also see the temptation to go in the opposite direction wax in strength during these periods. Staying sober, especially during these times, is the sound choice.

Re-investigate the stories that sound suspect. Neptune can bring the gifts of fiction into everyone’s life in positive and not so positive ways. Stories that sound suspect, dodgy, or have bad sources should be examined closely during these retrograde periods as their fault lines are most likely to show.

On a more personal level, when Neptune retrogrades we find that we are best able to:

Recommit to any artistic endeavor that is ready to be completed and shared with the world. This can also be a more general recommitting to your own personal creativity and the role that art plays in your life.

Re-examine any fantasies or delusions that are siphoning life force and vitality from you and giving nothing of real value back in return. (Obviously, if and when you identify them, you then banish them!) Pay special attention to the areas of love and money as Neptune retrogrades can really aggravate those two arenas.

Reflect on our own history, including our ancestors and our lineage, for valuable teachings. This is also an ideal time to do healing work on behalf of Ancestors and lineage.

Reconcile any deceptions we have been told or told ourselves with what is actually true. Neptune retrograde is an ideal time to “come clean”.

Recognize our capacity to be both healers and healed, and to work from a place of deep, abiding, and unconditional love.

Remember and work with our dreams and the wisdom they contain.

Neptune retrogrades are long periods of time, incredibly well-suited to sincere reflection. Work with this period of each year in a conscious and proactive manner in order to go deep and move the things that need to be moved with incredible swiftness. Neptune is not a speedy planet as we saw above, but it is deep and thorough, and the endeavors we take on under its auspices are endeavors that stay with us throughout our lives.

magic, miracles: receive my lunar letters

ARRIVING on full moons each month.