How to Have a Green Friday

green friday

Four a.m. wake ups. Shopper stampedes. Setting up camping tents outside the store. Fights.

Black Friday horror stories mean many people want to opt out. Opt out of the buying, stress, and pressure. If this is you, read on. I’ll give you some tips on how to reinvent the kick off to the winter holiday season and create a Green Friday instead.

What is Green Friday?

I’m not sure where or when the idea started, but it’s already morphed into a lot of different expressions. The general idea is to make the holidays more meaningful and ecologically friendly. Here are some ideas that embrace these concepts.

Get Outside

Put the green in green Friday by skipping the shopping and the sales and get outside in Nature. Take the partner and kids and go for a hike, pitch a tent, have  bonfire. Reconnect with what’s important and make memories, not purchases.

Host a Craft Party

Want to get a jump on holiday gifts? Get your peeps together and have a craft party. Life’s about relationships. This idea allows you to nurture your relationships while you make one-of-a-kind, meaningful gifts. This feeds your social side, knocks out your gifts, and avoids indulging in consumerism.

Clean Up

Thanksgiving is a celebration of the last harvest. Since Mother Earth has shared her abundance with us, we can show reciprocity by doing some clean up. Is there a park, riverbank, or beach that is strewn with litter? What about cleaning up some graffiti? Maybe there is an area that is being overrun with nonnative, invasive species that needs a fall clean up. Or perhaps it’s your own yard! Wherever nature needs a sprucing up, this could be your Green Friday project.

Not an organizer? Check out hashtag #optoutside or meetup to join local events.

Shop Online

If you’re saying, “But, but, but… there are great sales on Black Friday!,”  I hear you. If you have to shop, why not shop online? This saves fossil fuels and avoids the mayhem found in the stores. Other ideas to reduce the environmental impact of shopping is to repurpose items, buy vintage gifts, and buy local.

Volunteer at the Animal Shelter

Nature isn’t just the land. It’s also the creatures that dwell upon the land. Your local animal shelter can always use some help with cleaning cages, walking dogs, and socializing cats and other small creatures. This is a fabulous way to give back to pet who are living in less than ideal circumstances.

Educate

Share your green Friday plans with others. Animism is a spiritual path that is guided by our values. Together we can change the culture to create a love of land, clean air, clean water, and mutual respect. We can value people over things. This is not to suggest that we proselytize. Just speak from love about why we’re choosing something different. It may change someone’s heart. Perhaps the kick off to the winter holiday season will have a totally different meaning for our children.

What is Connection?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Pan Society path of modern animism is sovereignty, connection, and Oneness, but what is “connection?” Yesterday it came to my attention that some people might not know.

We have the post of the glossary of terms sticky posted on our blog to facilitate communication. Sometimes when someone says something, we are not talking about the same thing – particularly when it comes to spirituality. Culture and life experiences influence how we see the world, so our understanding could be different from the mainstream or niche view.

When I’m speaking of Connection in the Pan Society context, I am not talking about socializing. It’s bigger than hanging out with friends or being a part of a family.

I’m not talking about sex, hooking up, or romantic relationships. It’s bigger than the body or touch.

In the holistic, animist world, everything is already connected. The things we most easily relate and connect to are in our inner circle. These are things like our families, friends, and culture.

The next closest ring may include things like our communities like schools we went to, neighborhood, ancestors, church, gods, past lives, and the land around us. These are also part of us, but they affect us less as they are not as close to our day to day awareness.

The next ring could be our state, country, or our religion. At some point, we start to include things like plants, animals, the mineral kingdom, space, and the Universe. Keep in mind that everyone prioritizes their rings differently.

The things in the inner ring may or may not be healthy and stable. If they are not, we may not know how to have healthy connections because we didn’t grow up with them. We also may put our effort into cultivating connection with things that are more distant from our center.

Barriers to Connection

Lots of people don’t realize that they don’t know what healthy connection looks like. We may have learned barriers to connection and engage them habitually. This can block our experience of connection.

So, let’s look at them. If you have these patterns, you may not be experiencing healthy connection.

Stonewalling – this is refusing to engage and not following through. It could look like avoiding conversations or just saying things like, “I’m not going to talk about that.” This is invalidating and frustrating to the person who is trying to connect. You diminish yourself by not speaking your truth.

Defensiveness – this is feeling the need to guard against danger. It could be that you see confrontation, insults, or rudeness where none is intended. Or it could be that you react to intended ugliness by protecting yourself more strongly than is required.

Avoidance – if intimacy and connection came with pain, we might have learned to avoid it. So, we shut it down by avoiding it with body language, spacing out, escaping, or creating too firm boundaries.

Dependency – this is basically clinginess. If we fear abandonment, we can cling to people just to have someone near. We may engage in people pleasing and manipulation to stay in the relationship. This can also make us vulnerable to abuse. This isn’t healthy for others or us particularly if the relationship isn’t balanced.

There are other behavioral habits, but you get the idea.

So What’s Connection Like?

I have to thank people who are willing to be vulnerable and share their experiences in places like Talking Circles, therapy, tours and just general conversation for enlightening me about this. When something is obvious to you, you don’t talk about it. I don’t going around announcing that I am human or female. We all already know. So I didn’t know how connected I was until I could peak inside of someone else’s existence. It’s hard to language what it’s like to be female or human because you don’t know anything else. There is no duality within. I will take a crack at it though.

Connection is like a game of ping pong. I serve. You can hit the ball back, swing and miss, or stop playing. As long as we’re both in the game with each other, we’re connected. If we’re playing parallel games, we’re not connected. When we’re both in a groove of moving the ball back and forth and exchanging energy, we’re deeply connected.

I said nothing about touch, conversation, or even people necessarily. You can have connection without touching, speaking, or even being in the presence of another person if you’re connecting with your feelings, the sea, or the past. Everything is available.

People are the hardest. They have sovereignty. They can say no and not play. Plants and animals can too, but they have fewer defenses and barriers. They are almost always a yes. Ancestors are pretty easy. Children are easy.

How to Practice

So you want to practice? Great! You can do this without the other partner knowing that they are playing a game.

The first step is to adopt an Observer stance. No matter what happens, stay present, objective, and observe without reacting or judging.

Now attempt to engage with something. This is your “serve.” Notice if they engage back. If so, this is them hitting the ball back. If not, they’re not in connection mode. You can either try again or respect that they don’t want to play and move on.

If I am distracted, busy, tired, hungry, irritated, or not interested, I might decline to engage. If I am unsure of what is being offered, likewise, I might decline to engage. When you feel it’s the former, it’s best to respect the boundary and try later. If it’s the latter, that’s a better time to try again in a different way.

Practicing is easiest when you have a strong sense of sovereignty. This keeps you safe enough to stay in the game. After all, you might be the one who leaves the field.

I didn’t realize it until I had been leading tours for many years, but connection is what I was offering. Connection to the land, feelings, and each other. In a place of safety, we just go their naturally. If we know how, we can create it with anything or anyone that wants to connect with us.

So, if it’s easier to practice with non-people, try that. Let yourself be in a mindful space and tune into the space around you. Let it be as it is. With practice, you will sprout roots in your body, home, ancestry, faith, and all of life.

Why We Use Talking Circles (And You Can Too!)

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Our path to modern animism at Pan Society is through cultivating sovereignty, connection, and Oneness. We host talking circles because it hits all three. How? Read on.

What’s a Talking Circle

A talking circle is an indigenous practice that is used by many groups for problem-solving, enhancing communication, and creating understanding. Participating in a talking circle opens the door to patience, mindfulness, grace, forgiveness, growth, honesty, sovereignty, intimacy, self-esteem, and probably many more things. It gives people a safe place to hear and be heard.

We sit in a circle to show equality. There is no hierarchy in the circle. Everyone has a voice.

What Are the Rules?

The rules of the talking circle are really simple. They are:

  • Respect the talking piece.
  • Speak from the heart.
  • Listen with your heart.
  • Speak with respect.
  • Listen with respect.
  • Remain in the circle.
  • What’s said in the circle stays in the circle.

“Respect the talking piece” is about respecting the authority of the rules and the intent of being there. As long as we all adhere to the guidelines, we’re all safe. The process can be productive, supportive, and valuable. If any one of us makes it about us, it all falls apart. That’s modern animism in a nutshell, isn’t it? (We use a conch as our talking piece as it’s a wink to Lord of the Flies. It’s also a symbol of water, which is about flexibility, emotions, and what’s hidden).

“Speak from the heart” encourages us to connect with our feelings and impacts rather than facts. A holistic spiritual path is not just about data. It’s about mind, body, and spirit; past, present, and future; me, you, and us. So the marriage of opposites often creates greater understanding. It also helps us to practice our sovereignty and vulnerability which is crucial to creating connections.

“Listen with your heart” allows you to hear in others what matters to them. It puts you in their shoes. We’re all One. So this is about listening to our other selves – which could be in shadow.

“Speak and listen with respect” keeps us mindful. It keeps the space safe. While it may be true that we have a volcano inside and typically speak thunder, it isn’t effective to dump that on everyone else. It’s a shared space. We all need to feel safe.

“Remain in the circle” means to physical commit to being present for everyone and yourself. It also means to stay mentally present. We can check out or think about our rebuttal. By staying present, we give and receive more.

“What’s said in circle stays in circle” makes it a safe place for everyone to be honest and vulnerable. Nothing of value happens without this.

Cultivating Sovereignty

Sovereignty is about knowing, being, and expressing yourself. From the time we are children, we are told what’s acceptable and what’s not. If we grew up in dysfunction, our approval may have depended upon knowing what other people wanted us to be. This can distort our sense of self and send us off searching for love in other people’s eyes, books, workshops, escape, and who knows where.

The answer is inside.

Listening to others speak your truth in the talking circle could light up, “Me too!” moments. It could give you the courage to speak and own that truth.

Speaking your truth without getting correction or criticism in the talking circle could help you realize that it’s okay to say what you say and think what you think. It could provide a witness that your experiences are real. It could help you stand up in your body and say, “I am!”

My opinion is that our search for meaning is a search for self. When you know who you are, everything you do and experience has meaning because it’s all connected. We no longer have to scale Mt. Everest, make a million dollars, or write a best seller to be “somebody.” We’re already somebody far greater than all of that.

Cultivating Connection

The talking circle teaches us how to connect. When it works as designed, connection isn’t something that we “do.” It’s something that is. It’s a byproduct of being present, respectful, and open. Once you have that, you can have it anywhere. You can have it everywhere. The crowd is no longer the loneliest place. The woods are no longer dead spaces. The whole world becomes alive and every expression is a beautiful, natural one.

Oneness Happens

I found out long ago that oneness can’t be created. It is also a byproduct of being in a space of nonjudgment and contentment. When we stop striving, wanting, hurting, resisting, rushing, or do-ing, and step into a space of be-ing, that Oneness happens. This is easiest alone. When it happens in a group, wow! Talking circles can create that wow for you.

Whenever I find something that lights me up, I want to share it. So, we’re hosting virtual Talking Circles now so that you can experience this for yourself. Maybe you will be inspired to host some where you are. Maybe we can start an avalanche of sovereignty, connection, and Oneness that takes over the hearts of all. Who knows? It starts with one.

Curious? Check out our facebook page and see when we’re doing the next one. And join us!

Animist Revival, Duality, and Spiritual Boundaries

spiritual boundaries

I recently discovered that there is an animist revival happening! Lots of people who lost touch with their animist roots are now being drawn to reawaken this part of themselves. Mixed culture people are deepening their knowledge and practice of their animist side. Tribal people are benefiting and recoiling from this explosion.

To navigate this in a healthy way, it’s good to look at where we came from. When we do this, we can move forward in a more mindful way.  So let’s review our past.

The History of Cultural Destruction

Throughout history, conquerors have taken territory, killed people, and changed cultures. We can see the evidence of this in language. In modern times, we see that English speaking areas that weren’t originally English territory were conquered by England. Spanish speaking places were conquered by Spain. Portuguese speaking places were conquered by Portugal, and so on.

The British Empire was the last huge empire and the one that conquered the land where I live, so I will focus on them as they are the one I know most about. Please be aware that this didn’t just happen to Native Americans and people of color. It happened to aboriginal Australians, the Scottish, Irish, and others as well.

British strategy was to systematically destroy the culture of the local people to reduce opposition and impose control. They forcibly removed them from their lands dislocating them from their ancestors. In many cases, they forbade them from hunting and forced them to farm, starve, or subsist on the government handouts that were theirs by right of the peace treaties. So in essence, they took away their lifestyles and government became their benefactor.

The British also took children from their parents and sent them to boarding schools. In these schools, the children experienced rampant hunger, physical abuse, and sexual abuse. Children were not allowed to wear their traditional clothing, speak their language, or engage in their spiritual practices. In the case of Native Americans, their hair, which was a source of power, was cut.

When these kids went home to visit their families, they could often no longer relate to them because they were so culturally different. They could also no longer speak to them because they couldn’t understand each other. The last residential boarding schools closed in 1973.

President Grant’s 1868 Peace Policy allowed the forcible conversion to Christianity. By 1872, sixty-three of the seventy-five Native reservations were administered by Christian religious denominations. Despite religious freedom being one of the founding rights for all Americans, Native Americans were denied religious freedom until 1978. The United States government was able to do this because did not recognize them as citizens.

“Culture” is defined as the shared language, customs, dress, laws, art, spiritual practices, beliefs, and traditions of a people. So in essence, the conquerors imposed cultural genocide on animist peoples around the world.

Animist Revival

spiritual boundariesIn recent decades people around the world feel a hunger for something different. We feel the disconnection from the land, from their ancestors, and from Spirit. We’re yearning for what’s wild, natural, magical, and spiritual. At the same time, we want to distance ourselves from the horror of our ancestors and identify with what our ancestors once oppressed to “prove” that we are not the bad guy. We’re finding the solution to all that in pagan and animist spirituality.

We’re bringing it into our lives in the only way we know – through the lens of western values. Westerners buy what we want, consume, sell, adopt, and merge. We use the pagan values of “We’re all One” to justify our acquisition. We use our habit of taking only the choicest bits to rationalize our buffet-style of belief and practice.

Duality

Duality is the idea that opposites are required for either to exist. We know in because there is out, light because there is dark, and male because there is female.

Antagonistic duality views thing in terms of good and bad. They fight the bad and promote the good.

Complimentary duality says that’s nonsense. Since both are required for the other to exist, you can’t eradicate one without obliterating the other. Each is purposeful.

What does this have to do with spiritual boundaries? It means that east needs west, old needs new, traditional needs modern, in needs out in order to be whole. Complimentary duality is a component of animism. You can’t live in the web of life without it.

That’s why we have Pan Society. To honor that. We offer people a way to live in complimentary duality in the community of others. To do that in a way that is respectful and constructive, we have to have spiritual boundaries.

Spiritual Boundaries

So, we have some problems, don’t we? We’ve made some mistakes, haven’t we? Let’s start today to remedy that by creating spiritual boundaries between native and non-native people, and just people in general, so that the animist revival doesn’t result in the second wave of cultural genocide.

Here are some possible solutions. Take whatever works for you and feel free to add your own.

Change The Way We Speak

How do you feel when someone calls you by the wrong name or mispronounces your name? Let’s change the way we speak. Let’s call things by their proper names.

Christopher Columbus called the people of the New World “Indians” because he mistakenly thought he was in India. They already had names. They are Montauk, Cree, Pima, Wintu, Matan, Macorix,  and many more. When we call them by their names, we show respect for their individuality and give them back their identity. (Keep in mind that for some people  “Indian” has become their identity. So it’s best to ask).

We use terms like witchcraft, pagan, animist, and other words to talk about our understanding of those words. Others may have different understandings so we aren’t communicating effectively. It creates confusion. I might be talking about an ancient practice belonging to a particular people at a particular time. Meanwhile you’re talking about the girl next door who has no cultural or spiritual knowledge of the roots of a belief or practice.

We can clear that up by using correct terms. If you’re talking about Wicca, say Wicca. Is it Neo-paganism? Say that. If it’s modern animism, say that. It will enhance communication and create healthy boundaries around what is X and what is Y.

We use the term shamanism to refer to all the mystical spiritual practices of indigenous peoples because they all look the same to us. We don’t know the differences, or perhaps don’t care. Or maybe we water it down and strip it of specificity to justify taking from tribal people.

“Shamanism” is the mystical practices of the Tuvans. Using the term generically erases individuality and culture.

That’s disrespectful. It is like saying all _____ people look alike. The differences matter! Just because anthropologists do it doesn’t make it right. This is the same type of conquering mentality that took children from their parents and essentially said, “I’m the expert. I know what’s best for you. You are who I say you are.”

spiritual boundariesMy mother’s people take pride in not being among those whose who lost their language, culture, and spirituality. If you go to my mother’s village and ask about shamanism, people will know right away that you’re an outsider who has done zero homework. (There are mystics. There are no shaman). Consequently, they probably won’t trust you.

So one of two things will happen. If you come upon someone who wants to take advantage of you, you will probably be suckered. Otherwise you will probably be corrected then ignored.

People are sick of having their culture distorted, ruined, and sold. They know the value of what was taken and don’t want to give up anymore. Not for any amount of money. They don’t want to be prostituted to tourists because they are poor. They don’t want their spiritual practices reduced to a few reproducable rituals that can be packaged and sold in a weekend workshop.

And that’s what it feels like.  So they protect it, by not sharing it.

If you approach with humility, respect and boundaries, the story would probably be different. Many tribal people have shared with outsiders who are humble and respectful. It’s not a matter of elitism or hate. It’s a matter of respecting the value of what we have. Both sides benefit from respect.

Lose the Entitlement

Outsiders can come in with an attitude of entitlement. They don’t understand that even people within the culture can’t do or have everything. There are boundaries. Sometimes it has to do with timing, age, gender, or readiness. We can’t just do whatever we want whenever we want. Why should you?

Obey Natural Laws

The sun does not shine at night. Salmon don’t spawn in the winter. Everything obeys natural laws. When you don’t know what the cultural boundaries are or follow the flow of Nature, you will make spiritual mistakes.

Womb circles are for women. This doesn’t mean we are not sympathetic towards people who identify as women. It doesn’t mean that they are not honored for who they are or can’t participate in other activities that are women only. It means that this particular event is open to those with a womb. Certain rituals are open to specific genders, ages, or people with a certain condition or have undergone a specific rite of passage. Those boundaries exist for a reason.

I’ve seen people literally lose their minds because they weren’t ready for the experiences they sought. People who don’t have the cultural knowledge to benefit can get nothing from an experience, engage in spiritual bypass, or be completely unprepared for it. So boundaries aren’t about keeping you out. They are about keeping you safe and maintaining the natural order.

Be a Student

When creating a mini dairy goat, you mate a mini with a full sized goat. The first generation offspring are called “experimental.” It isn’t until the fourth generation that those goats are registerable as minis. All that is to say that it takes a while to create change and stabilize that change. So be a student.

In today’s society, people take a workshop and emerge an expert. They teach or share as if they are knowledgeable about a subject. Because there is no on to contradict them, they become the expert. Real wisdom and context is lost.

Animism is a lifepath. It is always in the process of unfolding because every moment is new. Life’s always changing. Nobody becomes enlightened or awakened because it’s an ongoing process. We can have moments of enlightenment or be in the process of awakening, but that’s true of everyone. No one is spiritually better or further along. We’re all in it together.

So who is to say that “that guy” is the expert? Who’s to say that the child doesn’t see more clearly than you? This doesn’t take away from your wisdom or life experience. It just suggests that you never lose the ability to laugh at yourself, give the other guy credit, and remember that we’re all always learning.

Be Trustworthy

If you are invited to participate in a sacred ceremony or are given sacred knowledge, hold it in trust. Treat it with the same reverence that it is held within the native culture. If you alter it (and unless you are deeply steeped in the culture you probably will do that unknowingly if not intentionally), call it by a different name.

Don’t share it with people who would not have the right to it within the tribal context. Don’t teach it if you could not do so within the tribal culture. By all means, never sell it. In most tribal cultures, spirituality is never for sale. Treat is as wise ones within the culture treat it so that you don’t contribute to its destruction.

Respect the Sovereignty

If someone doesn’t want to share with you, that’s their right. They don’t have to. Like westerners, many tribal people are trying to get in touch with their lost roots. We are relearning our languages and reviving our customs. We’re regaining ourselves.

Sometimes the easiest way to do that is with the love and support of others. Sometimes it is by shutting the world out. Respect the process. It’s not about you.

At the same time, it’s totally okay for you to have your own process and own ideas. If you want to return to your roots, fabulous. If a revival style practice works better, do that. Perhaps you want to start something totally new. Fabulous, do that. Or join us. You are welcome here.

The world’s ancient spiritual traditions have remained alive despite radical efforts to eradicate paganism. Thanks to the passion of dedicated people and the mystics who were entrusted with sacred knowledge, it thrives today.

There are many prophesies about the west eradicating the old ways. There are also many prophesies about the old and new combining to create something new and wonderful.

Yang has a history of dominating, distorting, and annihilating Yin. If we want to choose the path of wholeness, we have to learn to trust and respect each other’s ways and wisdom. That requires safety first.

Animism is a blessing that is meant to be experienced and shared. Healing the divide means that east and west, old and new, traditional and modern need to be friends. So let’s show proper respect and boundaries so that it can work for everyone.

Be Careful What You Listen To

be careful

I created a video a while back about asking great questions. If your questions don’t reflect what you really want to know, you can walk in circles not really getting anywhere.

The compliment to that is to be careful what you listen to. If the source of your answers is tainted, not knowledgeable, unreliable, or not helpful, you know to give less weight to that response.

As we’re all here to grow in our modern animism practice, these really are the best two tools that you have. All points of view are valid. Not all points of view are wise or correct. Let’s look at how to tell the difference.

Objective vs. Subjective

If are evaluating subective statements, feel free to discard them. “Subjective” means it’s an opinion. So if someone says to me, “you should really let your lawn grow so that the wildlife have a place to live,” that’s an opinion.

Should is always an opinion. I can take it or leave it. I don’t have to feel offended or judged. It’s just someone else’s observations of their inner world.

I don’t have to live there. They do. So, I am completely free to be a sovereign person and walk away from that. Or I can embrace it if it works in my world too.

Who Is the Authority?

We all have white coat syndrome to one degree or another. We give more weight to the person we feel has the authority to speak. In animism, everyone has authority and YOU are the ultimate authority. That’s sovereignty.

That said, the person who is closest to the problem may have more wisdom than you. It’s not always true. Sometimes being close to the problem gives us blinders. This is just something to consider.

For example, someone asked me about animism. I gave a position that contradicted anthropologists – people who study animist cultures. Who is the authority? Someone who is looking at it from a scientific, outside perspective? Or someone who was reared in the west by an animist parent who didn’t have their language and spirituality destroyed by conquerors?

It would depend on the question, wouldn’t it? If it was a scientific question about data, the anthropologist might be more accurate. If it was a question about values or meaning, I’d probably pay more attention to the person with a foot in that culture.

Don’t be fooled by the resume! Sometimes the “authority” is the child or person with no experience. People who “know” can be tainted by their experience and knowledge. They may miss or dismiss ideas because they are innovative. Always consider option C.

Is It True?

I have just recently become aware that there is a modern animism movement. A lot of people who didn’t grow up in animism are positioning themselves as authorities in this and are cashing in. They are saying things that are second or thirdhand “truths.”

I urge you to investigate this deeply before believing what they say and following them. We live in a world where if someone says something long, loud, and poetically enough, it becomes the truth because we don’t think for ourselves. We don’t investigate for ourselves. We want to follow rather than exercise our own sovereignty.

If you want a meaningful animist practice, my suggestion is to find out if something is true before you accept it. Otherwise, you may end up poorer in the pocket and spirit.

It Is True Now?

Is it “opposites attract” or ‘”birds of a feather flock together”? Either could be true. If we’re talking about magnets, opposites do attract. If we are talking about birds, this is also true. So, you can hear something that is true, but perhaps not in this particular instance. To know for sure, you have to zoom out and see it in context. Sometimes generalizations work. Sometimes they don’t.

For example, there is a lot of talk about planting trees right now. Deforestation due to natural and unnatural causes is a big deal. So lots of people are advocating tree planting. This is generally a good idea. However, it might be good specifically.

To know for sure, you need more information. What trees? Where? How many? How will they be cared for? If you plant trees and that require care and have no one to tend them, it’s not an effective idea. If you plant water loving trees in an arid environment, it’s not an effective idea. If the grown trees roots will ruin the asphalt or grow into your septic system, that might not be a great idea. Details matter.

So what was true, may not be true for this time. It may not be true in this specific incidence. It may not be true for you. Or it could be true, but not effective. Mind the details.

A lot of spiritual fads have come and gone. There was the New Age, then Buddhism (or maybe it was the other way around). Animism could be the next fad. Not because it’s not a useful spiritual path, but because it’s not being understood. If you are viewing it and applying it through a mainstream lens, you’re not understanding it. So, you may discard it as not useful without ever really knowing what it is.

So develop your ability to evaluate what is true. You are the final authority in your life. It’s up to you to make it meaningful one.

How to Celebrate Ancestor Day

ancestor day

Ancestor Day kicks off on October 31. It happens when the veil between worlds is the thinnest and it’s easiest to speak with the souls of the departed. You can contact those whom you miss, and hide from those who weren’t the best in life.

Be warned. All spirits of the Otherworld can come through- not just the humans. This includes ghosts, faeries, demons, or whatever creatures you believe in. If you are scared, you can leave out food to placate them, stay indoors, or disguise yourself so they won’t know you.

If you are new to modern animism and want to get into the holy day spirit, I’ve gathered our posts about ancestors to help you understand what it’s all about. You can take any ideas here that work for you to create your own observance. The key is to make it meaningful to you. Enjoy!

Why We Tell Our Ancestors’ Stories – helps you understand the value of keeping your family stories alive. Shows you how to do this.

Calling to the Ancestors Song– this is a song that you can sing at your ancestor altar, for Ancestor Day, when someone dies, or anytime you want to connect to your ancestors.

Could Ancestor Deficit Disorder Be the Cause of First World Problems? – takes a look at the spiritual cost of divorce from the ancestors

Let’s Have a Dumb Supper – a Dumb (silent) Supper is one way to observe the holy day

Creating an Ancestor Veneration Practice  – if you want to keep your ancestors in your life all year round, here is how to do that.

Creating a Relationship With the Dead

Keening, Mourning and the Grief Process – this article looks at the process between dying and becoming an ancestor

Has Your Partner Met Your Ancestors?

Can Ancestors Cause Natural Disasters? – Ancestors are people. They can be nice or nasty. They can get upset when they aren’t respected. Here are some things to think about.

Chuseok, the Korean Ancestor Day Observance – here’s Ancestor Day done Korean style. Feel free to take ideas from this holy day for your celebration.

Ancestor Day falls halfway between the Fall Equinox and the Winter Solstice. Like many other holy days, it’s also a harvest festival. You can celebrate with the foods of the season like pumpkins, squash, apples, hazelnuts, and grains.

Like all eight of the holy days, Ancestor Day is a solar holiday. The sun’s light is all important as it’s life giving. So, you may wish to celebrate outside with a bonfire, or at least a candle, to light the darkness. Some say the bonfires are lit to keep the bad spirits away. Candles show your loved ones the way back home.

Also like all of the holy days, Ancestor Day is a doorway to a change of energies and seasons. It’s liminal space that is neither this nor that. To mark this, you could explore things that are not your normal nature. Beware of tricksters and spirits though as they are doing the same thing!

Ancestor Day is also divination time. It’s time to use whatever methods you know to see what the future holds. Since the veil between worlds is thin, the spirits can more easily help with this. It’s also a time to ask the spirit world for protection through the winter and the year to come.

In some cultures, Ancestor Day also marks the new year. Since the wheel of the year is a circle, there is really no beginning and no end. Consequently some cultures make the Winter Solstice the new year. Some observe it in the spring.

If this is your new year, you could make it a party just as you would the secular new year. Dancing and music are always appropriate. Decorating with the colors of nature, either around the house or on your altar is typical. Holy days are always good days to get outside, take a walk, contemplate, and breathe. Storytelling is also a common theme for parties.

If you don’t want to invite your dead in to party, you could go to them. A trip to the cemetery to tend the graves and update them on the latest news is a great plan.

Although this tends to be the largest and liveliest celebration of the animist year, people also tend to remember that it is a holy day and keep it spiritual.

Why We Tell Our Ancestors’ Stories on October 31

ancestors stories
Ancestor Day begins on the evening of October 31. Are you looking for something meaningful to do for Ancestor Day? Telling our ancestors’ stories is a great way to connect. Here’s how to get started.
 

Write it Down

To get started, we’re going to write everything down. This my require some research, so if you start now, you should have plenty of time.
 
 
Begin by writing your name at the top of a piece of paper, then writing four columns. One is for each of your family lines. So there will be one for your mother, her mother, her mother’s mother, and so one. Then one for your mother’s father, his father, his father, and so on. The next one is for your father’s mother, her mother, and so on. The last one is for your father’s father, his father, and so on. Go for as far back as you have names.
 
 
Once you have the names, fill in what you know about them. Ask your elders. Check Ancestry.com. You might get lucky and find that someone in your family tree has done a lot of work for you. Who knows? This may become a whole album instead of a piece of paper!
 
 
Be sure to include factual stuff like important dates and places, but also see if you can find things that are of personal significance like you know that your grandfather grew peaches or that he worked as a musician. You want to include positive things and negative things. These are all a part of your story too. These things illuminate where you came from.
 
 
If you people struggled through the Great Depression, genocide, or slavery, you know that you have great strength within. That might also suggest that there is some intergenerational healing to be done. It’s all good. It’s all part of who you are.

Tell Their Stories

Now that you have gathered the stories, tell their stories on Ancestor Day. Say their names. Give gratitude. Send love.
 
 
It’s informative to give factual stories, but you want to be careful about speaking ill of the dead. If you have people who have not yet crossed over, you could attract their anger if you slander them. We want everyone to rest in peace, so it’s a good idea to be respectful and speak in love – just like you would in life.
 
 
If you’re hanging on to old hurts, it might be a good time to offer forgiveness. If you can’t yet, you can ask your ancestors for help. In fact, you can ask your ancestors for help with anything that you need. The door is open for all comers to hear you, not just those who are well in spirit, so you want to be careful about listening to any advice however.
 

Make an Offering

When you are asking for help, or even just visiting with the dead, it’s always a good idea to make an offering. This is a way of engaging with the law of reciprocity and keeping things in balance. When you receive, you also give. An appropriate offering could be food, a prayer, songs, wine, flowers, or anything that feels right for you. If you know your family liked something in particular, that would make a great offering.
 

Why We Tell Our Stories

So, what’s the purpose of this? Why do we do it?
 
 
The first reason is to keep our connection to the dead alive. We have a past and a future. The living stand in the middle, as the bridge to the past or the ancestors. We are the link to the next generations that are coming. When we tell their stories, they provide an anchor that stabilizes our family tree. Our stories tell us where we came from. They ground us to the land and to other people. They give us a way to belong.
 
 
Lots of people feel lonely and adrift. Many people in the USA came from somewhere else. So it’s very easy to feel disconnected from our roots. This is a way of finding them again. Telling your ancestors’ stories a way to hear the voices of those who came before sing within you.
 
 
It’s also a way to link us to the spiritual support of our ancestors. Many cultures believe that we have more than one part to the soul. There is the part that helps the living. It stays around for a while, then returns to Nature. (Some say it’s stays around for seven generations. Some say it’s until their names are no longer remembered). If we don’t speak their names, that connection is lost and we lose the support of those people.
 
 
The number of soul part varies from culture to culture. In some it’s three. Some say four or five. Most have another part that continues to incarnate in the family line. It’s important to live well so that your energy enlivens and “cleans” the family line so that the descendants will have an easier time of things. This also means you since part of your soul returns to the same family line. Your ancestors are motivated to help you because they benefit too.
 
 
Most cultures also have a soul part that reincarnates outside the family line to give you strengths and challenges that are outside your current family and culture. You can see how this would help accelerate growth.
 
 
So telling your ancestors’ stories is really a way of telling your own story. It’s a way of being present with the past, present, and future. Learning your ancestors’ stories connects you to a place, events, and other people. When you see the big picture, it can help put your life into perspective.
 
Keep in mind that as a modern animist, you can celebrate Ancestor Day any way that you like. Or don’t observe it at all. If this seems valuable to you, please use it this Ancestor Day and write a comment below to tell us how it goes!
 

VIDEO: Could Ancestor Deficit Disorder Be The Cause of First World Problems?

ancestor deficit disorder
I was recently introduced to this idea of Ancestor Deficit Disorder by author Steve Crandall. I thought it was an amazing look at the possible impact of divorcing our ancestors from our lives. Crandall lists the symptoms as follows.

Symptoms of Ancestor Deficit Disorder

low mood
anxiety
lack of wonder
loss of individual destiny
chronic cynicism
low levels of gratitude
spiritual withdrawal
emotional resignation
disconnection of heart and mind
loss of faith
atrophy of joy
Right away you get the idea that we suffer from not having contact with our ancestors. That’s my thought too! I believe it contributes greatly to what we call first world problems. I was recently in my home town and drove past the hospital where my friend’s mom was sick. We went there with her a lot. At the time I thought it was huge, but seeing it now, it’s teeny tiny in comparison to the huge ones we have today. The whole hospital is the size of only one wing or department today.
Our life spans are extending (although this is no longer true. Life expectancy in the USA dropped for the third year in a row recently), but we are living longer with disease.
Mental health problems are epidemic. Pharmaceuticals only treat symptoms and give people more side effects. So they have problems that defy categorization. They don’t have this or that, but they certainly aren’t functioning well.

Spirituality is a big part of health, so I believe that one of the things that can turn this around is returning to our roots. Connecting with our spirit and our ancestors. We have plant, animal, mineral, and human ancestors, so it could be a reconnection to any of those realms. However, I am speaking primarily of the human ones.
After all, if you don’t have roots how do you have an identity? How do you belong? How can you practice sovereignty, connection, and oneness? It’s really easy to violate people when you don’t see any connection to the past or future. It’s easy to destroy the environment when all you see is dead things or resources versus living relatives. We can see our bodies even as meat wagons versus holy temples, so we eat garbage, take drugs, and run ourselves into the ground.
Animism is a holistic spiritual path. It’s relational. Putting the ancestors back into your life immediately gives you a place to belong. It immediately makes you a significant link in the chain of past, present, and future because you are that! I am that. We are all that.
Maybe you don’t like your parents. Maybe they weren’t great people, but seeing your connection to them can make you more compassionate. It can help you to forgive. Perhaps you even take it upon yourself to help to heal their burdens so that they don’t pollute you or your children. Maybe you start to see that you are not them. You are greater than your mistakes. You are the result of the love of thousands!
When you look up at the stars tonight, perhaps you realize that you are stardust. It’s amazing to think about, isn’t it? You are part of the plants, trees, oceans, lions, icebergs, mountains- every holy thing. So plugging in to nature is just a way of getting to rediscover yourself. It’s a way to BE yourself. How liberating is that?
The good news about ancestor deficit disorder is that it’s voluntary. We don’t have to suffer. We can plug right back into life. All it takes is intention followed by action. Autumn is the time for the elders and ancestors, so it’s the perfect time.

How to Reconnect

Here are some ideas on how to reconnect and restore the ancestral connection.

  • Go to a moon circle. Use this to get in touch with your inner self through your relationship with the Moon.
  • Observe the solar holy days. This can help you to tune in to the wheel of the year. “As within, so without.”
  • Create an ancestor altar. Honor your people every day. Get to know their names and stories. Share them. Know that their strengths reside in you.
  • Forgive. Anger, resentment, and any type of withholding of love harms you. Be the change that you want to see in the world. This doesn’t mean “be the doormat.” Remember to practice healthy boundaries too.
  • Get out in Nature. Walk. Breathe. Observe. Be present until you see no detachment from it.
  • Change your language. Our words reflect our inner world. Watch for words and phrases that divide or curse. Remove them from your thoughts.
  • Plant and nurture plantlife. Watch it grow. Talk to it. See how it responds.
  • Consciously nurture an animal or person. Release any expectation of what you will get in return. Make it an act of love.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Let us know your ideas and what you see changing. Together we can make this a healthier more connected world and heal ancestor deficit disorder.

VIDEO: Charms, Amulets, & Talismans

VIDEO: Charms, Amulets, & Talismans

Whether you’ve ever worn a cross or carried a lucky rabbit’s foot, you probably have some experience with charms, amulets or talismans. While we tend to consider them the same thing they are actually different.

Charms are like rabbits’ feet or four-leaf clovers. They are small items that we usually carry in our pocket or wallet for luck. These items are usually found but some can be made.

Talismans are objects, that made or found, that are usually worn for protection or blessing. Examples would be a St. Christopher medallion, cross, or Star of David. These are symbols of faith that give the wearer a sense of peace, protection, and blessing.

Amulets are objects that give the wearer strength or power. It magnifies the energy a person has for magic workings or just to make them stronger or wiser.

Do you carry a lucky charm or talisman?