The Different Kinds of Ancestors

Did you know that there are multiple types of ancestors? They are not just our family members that are related to us by blood! In life, as humans, we experience so many different kinds of deep connections. We sometimes end up valuing found connections more than born connections, and this goes for our relationships with ancestors too. In my personal practice, I recognize ancestors of blood, ancestors of spirit, and ancestors of craft. 

Ten of cups and Six of Cups from Bianco Nero Tarot

Ancestors of spirit are ancestors of the heart. Those deep soul connections that make someone family even if they are not related by blood are just as valuable and rich. If your family line has step-family, close family friends, or experience with adoption in your family line, these are ancestors as well! This includes ancestors you have memories of, but also potential connections down those ancestral lines as well. 

Ancestors of craft are connections that step forward when you take on a certain path. In some spiritual traditions for example, once you undergo training formally, you are now taking on a spiritual lineage. The spirits of those who have walked the path before will often step forward as guides and teachers, and with that comes the responsibility to tend to that ancestral line. This is the case with many open traditions, which is why in those particular practices it is not necessary to be blood-related to someone who once tended that path.  Some traditions have a requirement that you get a teacher, that is an example of an active spiritual lineage. Your teacher’s teacher, and their teacher, become part of that line. 

Ancestors come in many forms, just as families do! This gives us a lot of opportunities to shape our ancestor work in a way that is personal to each individual. Some may not wish to honor their blood relatives at all for valid personal reasons, and some only wish to do ancestral work with relatives under the practice of shadow work (reflecting and healing repressed trauma, patterns, and even ill deeds in the family line) and save the honoring for ancestors of spirit and craft. You, as the current holder of the torch that has been passed down, can set your boundaries with your ancestors. There is so much to learn from the different kinds of ancestors! I will be posting more about this practice (and how to uphold spiritual boundaries regarding it) soon! 

Do you have experience with ancestor work?

Posted by Jae M on 10/15/23


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