If you know me and you know the podcast I cohost on, then you know we talk about Ancestor work a lot. I mean, a lot a lot. But one thing we rarely touch on is the fact that you, living right now, are an Ancestor. Everything you do, everything you create, touch, influence, or participate within are the fine threads that will make up the tapestry of your Ancestry once you pass on and join the dead.
But what does it mean to be a good living ancestor? If you have done any amount of Ancestor work or have asked questions about grandparents you may not have known or known well, then you know there are those within our lines that are less then savory. Or sweet. Or any other kind of baking reference. Often times we look at our ancestry to figure out who we are and why we do the things we do, to offer some semblance of understanding ourselves, but what we rarely look at are the events that happen within our own pasts that are currently weaving our ancestral tapestry under the same gaze we look to our own ancestors.
This is a difficult topic to navigate, really. But looking at our own lives as an offering to those that come after us can open up a new way of living gently on this earth. I want my nieces and nephews to look back across my life and be surprised a how human I was willing to be. I want their kids to ask questions about that “crazy aunt of theirs” and to see them smile fondly at the memories I’ve left them with.
When it comes to approaching this idea for the first time, I recommend asking the question “How do I want to be remembered?”. If you’re like me, your first inclinations will be silence or a noncommittal shrug of “IDK”. But if you ask enough times and sit with the idea, eventually things will pop up that ask for your attention. If you have an ancestor worship, look to your memories of those who have passed for inspiration. For example, one of my most fond memories of my best friend was how fearless she was. I will never forget, after her diagnosis, we went to Downtown Disney. There was an area completely sectioned off due to renovations/construction with a large DO NOT ENTER sign on the door.
This woman brazenly walks up, checks to see if it’s locked, then just walks right in like she owned the place simply because “I just want to see what they’re doing”. I am remiss to admit that I did not follow her, though I probably should have.
Another example is I went to stay with my grandfather for a week after he had hip surgery because my grandmother had to go stay with her brother in the hospital. I was given strict instructions about what Grandpa was allowed to do and what he wasn’t. But the one thing no one warned me about was his tenacity to complete whatever it was that he set his mind to.
His workshop and office were both in the basement, and I was to not let him go up or down stairs at any cost. I finished cleaning up the dishes from our breakfast and suddenly find out that Grandpa is no where to be found upstairs. I rush down to the basement to find him sitting at his woodworking bench, waving me over because he wants to show me this really cool puzzle box he was building.
I cannot express how much I’ve needed both of them with me while I navigate this messy thing called life. I have wonderful memories of them both being fearless and unstoppable when they sought after something they wanted and time and time again, I’ve tapped into that well of strength. This is what I mean when I talk about being a living ancestor. You will never know the ripples of change you cause while you’re living, but what you do get is the option to choose HOW you want to live your life. You can’t choose how others will receive you, but you can choose how you receive yourself. You get to choose what your tapestry will look like.
What is it about your ancestors that have pushed you forward or comforted the hurt? Are those things you can cultivate within your own life now to continue the cycle? What are the things that you don’t like? Can you put an end to them, can you stop that cycle by choosing a different path? How do you live as an Ancestor? What do you hope is remembered? Can you become conscious of those things and incorporate them into your daily lives? Can you make the choice to express it outward into the world and throughout your own ancestors? How do you wish to be remembered and can you elevate those actions, support, consciousness to fit?
Are you willing to worship yourself to heal those that come after you?