We are now approaching Samhain, the time of the year when the veil between our world and the spirit world is thin. Which makes it a very appropriate time to think about working with ancestors as spirit guides. When I talk about ancestors, I don’t mean just our biological relatives that have passed on. Ancestors include biological family as well as friends, or anyone we know who has passed on from the physical world that we know. This includes not only human ancestors, but also non-human animals, such as cats and dogs.
Why ancestors as spirit guides? We already have an established relationship with our ancestors. This can often make communication easier. Some people may be more uncomfortable working with a goddess, god, or spirit that they are just meeting. With an ancestor, there’s already a level of trust established. If you have someone in your life who you looked to for advice before they passed, that relationship can continue once they’ve passed on to the spirit world. Working with ancestor guides can be very helpful and rewarding. It also helps with the grieving process when someone dies to know that it isn’t the end for them. They are just continuing a long journey, and your relationship with them doesn’t have to end just because they have passed.
There are some things to be cautious about when working with ancestors. Don’t rush into working with an ancestor who has recently passed. Going from the physical world to the spirit world is a big transition for them. They need time to adjust. Communication may not go smoothly at first as your ancestor learns how to interact with you. At first, attempts at communication can be at times soothing, surprising, clear, garbled, and possibly even frightening. Be careful not to go into the relationship with too many expectations. Crossing over can change someone, and you need to be open to be accepting of your ancestor’s changes. Things won’t be the same between you as they were in the physical world. Be ready to be supportive of changes that are beneficial to your ancestor, and don’t be upset with them if they aren't exactly who you expected them to be. Above all, be patient and keep working at it until you are able to work with your ancestor successfully.
How can you reach out to your ancestors? You can talk to them in meditation or ritual and ask for assistance. You can let them know you are thinking of them and would like to stay in contact. Sometimes dreams are a good time to interact with someone who has passed on. Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t able to reach someone you would like to; they may have gone on from the spirit world back to the physical world. Or they may be dealing with issues that they need to work through before they can be there for you. You need to be able to let go if your ancestor needs to move on or isn’t ready to work with you. Sometimes you may not have a problem reaching out to your ancestors, you may actually need to hold them back a little if they come on too strong. For some who pass on, it’s hard to let go of the physical world and they may try to be around you all the time. Let them know that you love them and want them around. But you will need to let them know what your limits are and when they need to hold back.
I’m not saying you should work exclusively with ancestors. In this, as in all things, balance is important. Find what works best for you, and trust your instincts. Pay attention to what kind of guides you work with. If you work exclusively with guides who focus on light, positive things, you will neglect the darker, more negative things that need to be dealt with. If you focus on the dark, you will feel a lack of light in your life. It’s important to find guides who work well with you, and who reflect various aspects of your life.
Just as in life, you can’t expect any guides, including ancestors, to fix things for you. This is a relationship that requires respect, trust, balance, and care for each other. If you work with an ancestor guide, not only can you count on them to help you, but they will count on you to help them.
This is a huge responsibility, but one that can definitely be beneficial to everyone involved.