Spirits of Ancestor – the Footfalls That Have Come Before

“There is a hole in your swing.”

Throughout the movie “Mr. Baseball” Tom Selleck’s character is constantly reminded of this. Jack Elliott, is a heralded power-hitter in Major League Baseball who finds himself at the back end of his career. He signs with a Japanese professional baseball club, where the flaw in his swing is shown to him by the manager of his team.

So, this is a blog about my approach to Paganism. I’m a known baseball fanatic. Am I now writing about baseball and adding it here in the blog? No. Not at all. If I was going to write on baseball, I would have started a blog for that. LOL But the above paragraph about the movie is a good starting point for what I am writing about today. Much like Jack Elliott, everyone has a hole in their Spiritual practice. A weak point that we all try not to address. I have two – divination and the work with my Spirits of Ancestors.

Working my way through divination is not the easiest thing for me to handle. Much of it, as it seems to me, comes from repetition. With my lack of desire to reach too far into the future or to try and find meaning in the world around me, that makes it even more difficult. However, I try my best. I work with a set of Tarot cards, and as my current place in time is showing me – I suck at interpreting things. Thus, I can only say that I dabble in it. Or if you prefer, stick my toe in every so often. Just to see what the temperature of the waters might be.

However, its my working with my Spirits of Ancestors that is even weaker. For me, its troublesome enough that I tend to back away from working with my DNA Ancestors very quickly. See, I am one of the few black sheep in my family. My DNA relations are all extremely conservative and tend to follow the more deeply entrenched aspects of the Republican party. This even goes for those members of my family that are no longer living. I am mostly treated as a “dumb” member of my family – mostly because I didn’t venerate President Reagan and his ideas or fall and prostrate myself before King Trump. With my ancestors who have passed, I do not mech well with their very hardcore Christian values. The few times I have tried to reach out to work with my Spirits of Ancestors has proven to be difficult and often more of a “spiritual spanking” for me because of the path I have chosen.

This is the “hole in my swing” when it comes to my Spirituality. I usually back away from issues like this, rather than trying to mend the fence, so to speak. There is not much mending that can take place without me going back to a religious perspective that does not mesh with who I am.

For a long time, I tried to ignore aspects of this in my Spirituality. I told myself that I didn’t need this part of what I was doing. After all, I could utilize whatever I needed within my daily practice. Except that I found that I was provided no Past to venerate within my practice. I had no shoulders that I stood upon to reach the heights where I am. I had no line of ancestors behind me that had helped propel me to where I am now – unless you counted the idea that my Ancestors and their beliefs had repelled me into the trajectory I was now in. But that is repudiation not veneration. Not a positive outlook.

One afternoon, I was listening to Damh the Bard’s music on my headphones. A song from his album “Sabbat” came on – “On the Shoulders of Giants”.

Romans came, a mighty army, to the shores of Ynys Mon,
I’ve heard it said, I’ve heard the story, the Druids have all gone.
But what stays in our hearts, remains in our memory, with story and with song,
And they have been here, all along.

Damh the Bard, “On the Shoulders of Giants”

This little snippet of lyrics served as a strong reminder that my Spirits of Ancestor do not have to be of a genetic origin. The Spirits of my Ancestors are those who have trod this path before me. The Ross Nichols of the world. All my teachers and High Priests and High Priestesses who have helped create the Path I currently utilize in my walk through the darkened woods of my own Spirituality. Yes, I constantly and continually walk off the Path to explore for myself. However, the Path I always come back to as a baseline was walked by others before me. They blazed the trail that has allowed me to reach this location, where I can jump off and explore. Going into the future, someone else will come to this location and find my footfalls that have carved my Path into the woods. They will follow that, until they reach the point where I went no further. Then they will strike out on their own and use my Path as their waypoint back. And others will find their trails, and so on. In the future, I will be among those counted as a “Spirit of Ancestor”. Just not yet, if I have anything to say about it. 😉

Now, my Spiritual daily practice still has a slight “hole in my swing.” My veneration of the Spirits of Ancestors does not include my DNA Ancestors. I acknowledge that they are there. I acknowledge that without them I would not exist. However, I do not need their sneers and disapproval of where I have gone. Rather, I look to the Druids and Pagans that have come before me. I look to them because this path would not be as well-marked as it is without them. I venerate them in my daily offerings and prayers because their travels in this Spiritual Path have provided me with the markers to go further off the trail. Without their footfalls, I would not be here. For that, I am forever grateful. I could never be the Pagan that I am today without them. I only hope I can return the favor to the generations that come after.

–Tommy

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