This isn’t an educational post per se. I’m no expert on ancestor work and have actually had to be pushed at them. I’ve heard people bemoan adoption issues in regards to ancestor work so I wanted to share my experiences, a case study if you will, to encourage people to go ahead and do the best they can even if the circumstances seem insurmountable.

I’ll openly admit I’ve not been the most successful at consistent ancestor veneration. I have a hard time remembering to make the time. I have a ton of other life demands so haven’t read any books on ancestor veneration, the whole topic sadly ends up at the bottom of my priority pile again and again. But even so, and I hope my case bears out, ancestor work can still happen. Good things can be accomplished with a little effort. Don’t be disheartened, you just need to be open and try, hence the picture on success. This case study mentions a few techniques that may or may not work for you, what is important is the effort.

See, I have an adopted child. There is no hiding his adoption as he is as African as one can look while I and my other son are pasty white between our European ancestry and home in the land of little sun, the Pacific Northwest. I proudly claim him as my son, he as mine as surely as is my biological child. I’ll call him Hope here, that’s what his name means in his native tongue.

This brings its own issues when one deals with faith from the angle of heritage and spirit work. I’ve never been one to hold firm that one’s bloodlines or genetics will determine what Gods are interested in them. There are too many people of mixed races; too many people called to Gods from outside of their cultural heritage that just don’t makes sense within that paradigm. Yet, I found a stumbling block to my little Hope. My Nordic Gods don’t really pay him much heed. Some have an interest in my biological son, but sweet Hope doesn’t seem to elicit more interest than a shrug and a passing glance. I felt a vacancy with him, a hole that I desperately wanted to fill.

But life moves on. Hope came from somewhere in the Horn of Africa, found in a refugee town called Nazret AKA Adama in Ethiopia. He was threeish and had already had a rough life. So now he is eight and claims no memories of his past life. He is a happy go lucky kiddo with no thoughts or worries as to his next meal, where he will sleep, or if he or his family will be around the next day. Certainly he isn’t worried about spirituality in any form, he’s still enjoying having his basic needs, both material and emotional, met so I’ve had time to just sit back and think on what to do.

I had heard of something called bloodwalking. It triggered some thoughts in me and I spontaneously one night tried something. [NOTE- I did NOT bloodwalk here, that is not what is being described, the term just gave me an idea for something else] I spun Jera backwords and then viewed Hope in my mind – he was sleeping. I could see him in bed, watch his breathing. I zoomed in closer, to his skin, inside into his blood vessels. I found his blood, rode with the blood cells through his arteries. Then, when close enough, I spun Jera faster and it was as though I boomerang’d back.

I encountered grey, fuzzy, pain of such magnitude I kept going. Further back, I was able to see his great grandmother but felt the need to continue. I suddenly met a woman as though a brick wall. She was blazing anger, righteous disgust. She had every right, you see I’ve had problems in the past bonding with Hope. It happens with adoptive families at times, it is something one needs to work through and I have been and continue to do so. But she focused on this with an intensity that floored me.

She spit at me, cursed at me, raged at me. I tried to reason, I accepted her anger and hate to no avail. This woman reviled me. I stuck it out, I was determined. Then another came forward, she seemed to be ancient. She looked much healthier and was ornamented in beautiful jewelry. She was taller, had clearly had a better life materially than the ancestors closer in to Hope’s current life. She waved the other away telling her ‘that’s enough.’ She spoke with me, she was fair but firm. She would support me with Hope but I had things of my own to do. He needs to learn of his own heritage. This confused me a bit as no one really knows Hope’s heritage. Ethiopia has over 80 recognized languages and many more dying out as genocide and starvation continues in parts of the land and that’s only if Hope even came from Ethiopia. He likely could be Eritrean, the whole area is full of refugees. She urged me to start by finding a Goddess who “could be known as The Great Sky Goddess.” She said beginning there “would be a start.”

So I left with at least a tip. For me anyway, I’ve found I often don’t get full detailed answers. It’s probably my learning style. To find the answers to my tips I end up casting a broader information net which has always ultimately been useful and provided a broader foundational base of knowledge.

I did some searching, asked around, checked archeology, etc. I found something that seemed almost too obvious. I moved on, continuing my search. During this time though I continued to find myself thinking back to the pain I had felt in those first generations of Hope’s. Heathens don’t seem to be as heavy into working with troubled dead or healing ancestral lines, at least not openly, but I strongly felt I needed to go back. If anything I had to let them know Hope was safe, was loved.

So I did. I had finished meditating on Perthro one day and spontaneously reached out. Directly from my journal with only my son’s name being changed:
Then went back and was able to get in touch with Hope’s mom!! She was initially shocked and outraged that someone else was raising her boy. She had so much grief. I promised he would be cared for, I showed her what he looked like and that he knew love. I told her she would always be his mother but he was my child also. She was worried about him, she imaged me a bowl of rice (the refugee food really made me think she is his mother, not much further back). I said yes, he has all the food he wants. She seemed a bit relieved, still with grief but better. She reached out and we held hands briefly. She was so emaciated- it was hard and I cried.

My journal entry doesn’t really detail the emotion in any way. Such pain, such bewilderment. Such fear in her eyes for her son. I knew there was far more work to do in this.

After a few weeks I went to an ancestor circle. If you ever have the opportunity to go to one I fully suggest going. The one I’ve gone to is simple really, someone drums and people seek out their ancestors. We take a break, talk about the experiences should we choose to, and do it again. A good group is a safe, conducive environment to this work.

So I went knowing I would be focusing on Hope’s ancestors. I initially went to an ancient ancestress of mine to thank her for some help she has given previously. I also asked for her support in working with Hope’s line. She smiled, basically said I was doing fine but then did introduce me to a man who I believe to be four generations back. He showed me a village, told me many there had encountered starvation. He gave me images of Hope’s father and how he died- violently with a bag over his head. The word I got was that he was a wastrel, a good for nothing. But the ancestor then looked at me sadly and said, ‘It was a time when many were lost.’ We then had a break but I’ll remember that line and image for a long time.

When the break was over I went back to Hope’s mother. When I got to her there was anger again, she aggressively confronted me, I actually thought she was going to hit me. I had brought a mixed bean assortment as an offering, she took it and calmed a bit. I reinforced to her that Hope was and always would be her child, but he was mine also. I reinforced he had food, clothes, and love. I told her he went to school and that stopped her seething rage. She looked at me, ‘School? He learns?’

I ended up sitting with her on the dirt, squatting in front of a jimmy rigged cooking element with a pan of rice from which she was eating. I shared with her pictures of her son, him laughing, eating at the table, doing homework. I showed her the ancestor altar we have with a picture of an African woman to represent not only his ancestors (her) but mine from ancient times. She saw images of my other son and asked who he was, I told her and showed her how they love each other, how they play and argue as any siblings do. I’ll never forget the wonder on her face, the sense of relief I am slowly gaining from her, the kinship we are beginning to tentatively share in our love for this boy.

The group took another break, it was good as I could tell my time with her was done. I was truly not sure I was ready for another session but the rest of the group wanted to so I went. Well, not quite. I actually just decided to meditate, I’d made enormous headway and am often one to count good as good. But I found myself in an odd surrounding facing a large statue of an animal like woman. I was surprised and as I looked up I noticed sitting on one of the statues raised arms a woman staring at me. She was beautiful but almost in an animist way. She wasn’t animal, but wasn’t human either. She looked at me aggressively and jumped down from the statue with movements as feral as a cat.

Striding forward rapidly she stared me in the eyes and demanded, ‘What right do you have to the child?’ I stopped a moment, she was imposing and I realized that to her I may have no right but I answered, ‘I feed him, cloth him, and love him. That is my right.’ She stared at me intently, almost scowling. I’m looking at her realizing this was deity, this was a make or break moment. She softened and I realized that though I didn’t see them, I sensed wings or cloak or air or sky. Something about her. She glinted a bit, one could see sparkles or subtle twinkles about her.

She then asked if I wanted to know of the Sky and I nodded and she took me to her breast and I felt the sky in a way I’m not yet able to describe. It was grand and broad and swirling and encircling and comforting and awe-invoking and I finally stepped away from this Mother, from Nuit, and She looked at me and said, ‘I will take your son in my nurturing embrace.’ She asked me of how I would teach him of Her, I told Her and She was satisfied.

Then She instructed me to teach him a water ritual which I will share with you, reader. Outside is best but inside is fine. You take a bit of water in your hands, only a drop is needed. Raise it high in an arc being thankful to the sky for this bounty. As you drop a bit on your head you recognize the cycle of water, nourishing the earth and its inhabitants and then being taken back up into the Sky’s embrace only to begin this cycle again. I’ve realized that this has enormous symbolism and meaning. There is a beautiful way  to this that only takes a moment of thought to embark upon.

I feel better about my son Hope. I didn’t even realize how much better till the next day when I was struck in emotion and gratitude for what had happened. His ancestors know he is alive, well, and loved. There is more work to do with them, far more, but they will be there for him, they will understand his life should he ever desire to reach out to them. Hope also now has a Goddess he can turn to should he choose. Nuit  will look over him and pour nourishment into his heart and his soul if I do my job and guide him appropriately into knowing Her. I can’t rest on my laurels now, there is still much to do, but I’ll keep trying.

What’s important about this story is to realize that in adoptive issues there can be pain. There can be confusion and anger that needs to be addressed with a firm delicacy. It isn’t easy- there will be tears. But it can be done. When one adopts or is adopted, there is a joining of ancestral lines, whether willing or reluctant. This has to be recognized and acknowledged.

I want to thank Laura P for answering a few questions for me as I sought out The Great Sky Goddess and her referral to the final person I wish to thank. In gratitude I will briefly mention Laura’s book: Weaving Memory: A Guide to Honoring the Ancestors and it can be found here: Lulu

Most of all I want to thank Queenmother Imakhu Mu Nefer-t. She was willing to spend her valuable time with a perfect stranger and gave me wonderful support, encouragement, and advice. Her sites are here: Queen Mother Imakhu or here: Akeru Nu Afrakan Ministries
3/30/2012 12:21:47 pm

I suspect that Heimdallr walks the pantheons freely. He might be a good person to ask on these matters.

Other thoughts: It's really very cool that unlike our traditions, many of those from Africa still survive in their original forms, or close to it. Anthropologists have made great use of this for pagan reconstructive purposes. For example, by studying the traditions still practiced around Madagascar and eastern Africa, we were able to learn that Stonehenge was likely a necropolis / spiritual launch pad.

"The apparent similarities in the layout of the stones at Stonehenge and the posts at Woodhenge and Durrington Walls particularly struck Mike Parker Pearson, an archaeologist at the University of Sheffield, while he was conducting fieldwork in Madagascar. Ritual megaliths and posts are still erected on the large island off the east coast of Africa. Some Madagascans associate stone with their deceased ancestors, and wood with living people. Perhaps, thought Parker Pearson and his Madagascan colleague, Ramilisonina, the same principle applied more than 4,000 years ago in southern England. "


So basically, what we are running around trying to piece together from the ashes, remains fresh, alive and current on the mother continent. When he gets older, perhaps he will take his dreams and find their meaning there.

3/30/2012 04:43:42 pm

Thank you. Yes, Heimdallr very much seems to be able to traverse any pantheon He desires. I see Him as a bridge in many more ways than just a sentry at Bifrost- He can bridge gaps among groups and individuals also!! It was He who taught me about spinning Jera backwards which I've found a good tool in ancestor work. He will be called on at times I am sure in this to help in communication and determining what Hope's ancestors and deities are looking for. I work closely with Heimdallr for many things :)

Thank you for your links!!

3/30/2012 12:23:00 pm

In case I forgot to source my stonehenge claims:

3/30/2012 01:28:36 pm

Thank you for sharing your work here. This is beautiful work.

4/1/2012 10:49:10 am

Beautiful post. I have daughters from China that are adopted. Whenever I have done spirit work with them, the same grandmother deity/ancestor comes through to both of them. It was nothing that I expected since they come from two very different regions are are not even of the same ethnicity. I have concentrated a lot more with them on their animal totem/spirit guides. But after reading your post it seems I have much work to do! Thank you!


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