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Aina

Ancestors and Sickness

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I did a search on the forum for this question but kept coming up with information regarding Shamanism, so I hope this hasn't already been discussed.

 

I do a lot of Ancestor Veneration (AV) and at a minimum spend time with my mom once a week. I had a period of a few weeks where I was extremely busy and didn't do AV. I ended up getting sick (head cold/sinus issues). I medicated myself and kept getting worse. This happened before so once I realized what the problem was, I did AV with my mom. Within a couple of days I felt better and now it's like I was never sick.

 

Has anyone else had problems with getting sick when they become a little lax in their spiritual practice?

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Sick, no. Depressed and in a fog, yes.

 

Did you make any promises to your ancestors to meet weekly? One day, as I was making offerings to my ancestors, I felt driven to make a promise to them of making daily offerings. But I stood my ground, knowing that I would likely not keep that promise. Instead I told them, "I will not forget you, and I will spend time here and make morning offerings as often as I am able." I felt peace with that promise and knowing that I'm not bound to any rigid schedule that would produce fear and guilt in me when I inevitably got caught up in life's busyness and missed a few days.

 

Sometimes a cold is just a cold though, especially this time of year...do you really think your ancestors (specifically your mother) would actually punish you for missing a few days? Of all the spirits I've worked with in my relatively short time in the craft, my ancestors are the most gracious and protective...the least likely to do something obnoxious.

 

Which brings me to an uncomfortable question...are you 100% this spirit you meet with is your mother? Have you asked her to prove that in any way.

 

My ancestral spiritwork doesn't normally include specific relatives that have passed. I use things my grandparents owned to help connect/focus my energy and I may feel familiar elements that remind me of specific attributes of my grandparents, but I tend to think of the ancestors that work with me as being something different than individual ghosts of dead relatives. It's something older and more Indistinct than that...spirits that protected my ancestral lines for generations. Perhaps even ancient ancestors whose names and individuality have been long forgotten, but have become something else now.

 

I guess I don't quite see an appeal to waking up Grandma Nettie to tell her my problems over morning coffee each day if she's otherwise resting in peace, but I think that sometimes when I open the door to my ancestors as a whole, she (or parts of her) may be there or not. Everyone in my family has experienced her sending us little signs of encouragement (usually in the form of adorable forest creatures in unexpected places), so I know she's there, watching and helping, but I think that the real powerful connections I get in my spirit work are older...bigger..to borrow a phrase from Christianity, a great cloud of witnesses that have a vested interest in me and my family line. My grandparents are just the closest connection (and therefore the easiest path) for me to commune with that.

 

Am I making sense? I guess what I'm saying is that if your worried that your mother made you sick because you skipped your "appointments" with her (or at best, removed her protection from you temporarily), I don't think that's quite the nature of ancestral spirits. I did no ancestral veneration for most of my life (nor has my family beyond the usual Memorial Day remembrances or birthdays) and yet I've always felt that their protection and watchfulness have been there when I need it. Witchcraft and ancestral spiritwork has merely been a tool for helping me to communicate more directly with them and to give back some energy and love and attention out of gratitude.

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I may not have been clear enough in the original post, and I apoligize for that. First off, I've never felt my ancestors pushing more toward making any kind of daily offering or any pact or promise for doing AV on a particular day. I do make an offering every morning, but that's just how I do AV. If I miss a few days of offerings, it's no big thing.

 

My mom, when she was amongst the living, used to call me every Friday, so when I started doing AV, that was the day I started contacting her. When I first did AV, I explained that it may not be every Friday, might not be every week but I'll try to keep the schedule and asked her to help me with that.

 

The reason I asked her to help me with it, is because I have a tendency of getting started with something and then straying away from it. So, I don't see the head cold/sinus issue (which I might add happens every time I stray away...lol, not just in the winter) as punishment but as a nudge...a "get your ass back in gear".

 

The reason for the question...I was wondering if anyone else has this kind of experience. It may be personal, seeing the reason it's happening, but was interested in knowing if anyone else has that kind of relationship with an ancestor or spirit which finds a way to pull them back if they start drifting off. And also, if it's being sick.

 

@RapunzelGnome, I see that you don't get sick but depressed and foggy. I've never had that experience before. You also stated "I guess I don't quite see an appeal to waking up Grandma Nettie to tell her my problems over morning coffee each day if she's otherwise resting in peace..."

 

When I talk with my ancestors, it's vary rarely about trivial issues I have going on. Most of the time I give them family updates, let them know if someone in the family is sick, ask them for strength to get through a rough time, etc. The only time I bring something I'm personally dealing with to them is if it's something major. I also contact them before I do any divination.

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That makes sense, Aina. If you asked your mom to help you stay on track with the habit, then perhaps she is giving you a gentle nudge. Especially since this is an ongoing extension of a tradition you had while she was alive.

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And as for how I said I feel a little depressed and foggy if I skip out on my morning ritual, I think that happens in part because it has become a regular part of my morning routine, and if one part isn't in place, it usually means the whole routine got ignored.

 

I wake up, start the coffee and breakfast, prepare my altar and when the coffee's done, I make a cup for the altar and one for me. I light the incense that reminds me of the "motherland" where they came from (for me that's pine or balsam), light a candle, play my singing bowl for them and sing them a song of offering. Then I sit with my coffee and tell them what's going on with my life, talk through the spell work I'm doing, the divination that I'm trying to understand, the plans and things I need help on. And I try to take a moment to show gratitude for the moments that I have felt them helping me out, and that usually ends with a few tears because I'm sort of a sap like that. When my coffee's done, I sit quietly and meditate til the incense is burned down. Then I get ready for my day.

 

On days I fail to do that, I lack focus. Things are noticeably off. I think that's just because I didn't get a chance to ground or center myself before heading out into the world.

 

 

This is just my morning ritual. I do other work with my ancestors as well, and I always ask them and invite them into my spells and spirit work, hoping that they will add a little extra protection and energy and keep me from screwing something up because I don't know what I'm doing. And I'm learning to "tap the bone" to recover lore as well.

 

Anyways, I always like to hear about other people's relationship with their ancestors because I think this will look a little different for every person.

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I agree 100% about missing moriing rituals. It can throw the whole day off balance. The lack of focus you mentioned, I get that if I miss a few days of meditation.

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I agree it sounds like a nudge, especially if you asked for help staying on track. I find the whole AV (like that abbreviation, lol) thing to be very calming and grounding for me. If I go too long I find I miss it. I give them coffee every morning and evening when I make my own, and at least once per week I do a more in depth thing... read their names, and also state the relationship of those whose names I do not know, give them rum and a cigar, etc. I do it once a week because I said that would be the minimum I would do. But generally I sit and talk with them more often than once per week. If I am going away I let them know.

 

 

 

M

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Beautiful altar. I love the way you have everythng set up.

 

I have a black book that I keep on my ancestor altar. Inside are the names of my ancestors (full names), date of birth, place of birth, date of passing, and place of passing. When I call forth an ancestor for the very first time, I call them by their full name and then recite their date of birth, etc. I also tend to call my mom as well, since I'm used to working with her. After I get used to working with their energy, I call them by themselves.

 

I always see ancestor altars with different items on them. I have a flask for my paternal grandmother (she liked to drink, in fact we drank together when I was younger) and a ladybug for my mom. A lot of the other ancestors I work with are a lot older so I never met any of them.

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That altar is gorgeous. My favorite part is the empty picture frame. How simple yet beautifully symbolic.

 

BY THE WAY- I get it doesn't apply to you in this situation Aina- but @ R.G. Excellent point about making sure of the identity of a spirit you are working with!

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Strange timing with this....not related to ancestors so much but physical reactions to the spirit world.

 

Last night I was doing a major ritual to banish some stuff from my life. I'm going through a major change right now and I'm having trouble letting go of some habits that are holding me back so I was sorta ruthless in calling out these things and telling them to get out, hoping the current moon phase would help me out a bit. Finished the spells, and went to bed feeling a bit drained but otherwise fine.

 

Two hours later, I woke up feeling like I was having a heart attack...huge weight on my chest, body temperature flaming, trouble breathing. I had been dreaming but I don't remember what about. I sat up in bed and realized that I was gonna be sick. Fortunately made it to the bathroom where I threw up...a lot. I felt better after, though very weak, and collapsed back into bed. I tried to figure out what might have made me sick...stomach flu (maybe? But I haven't really been out of he house much this week and my husband wasn't sick) or maybe food poisoning (again, everything I ate, husband ate also without issue)? Couldn't figure it out so I went back to bed.

 

This morning I felt great. Not only physically but emotionally, and I feel like I have a much better grip over some of the problems I was having that led me to perform the banishment. Started going over it in my mind and the thought popped into my head...what if that was some sort of physical manifestation of what was going on spiritually? I dunno, maybe there's no connection, but it seems like a strange coincidence to me now.

 

Anyways, the whole thing got me thinking a little more about your story and interwoven the soul and body and mind really are. And how powerful the will can be over the body as well. It's given me a lot to think about.

 

(And maybe I'll just plan on eating a super bland diet or liquid fast before performing such an involved/intrusive banishing ritual ever again if that's how my body is gonna react. Yeeeesh....)

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@RapunzelGnome Maybe the banishing ritual took effect internally. Your throwing up was your body's way of dispelling any negative energy/aspects whether attached to your body or inside of your body. That's the first thing that went through my mind after I read your post, especially since you felt better in the morning. Since you had better clarity as well, maybe your body was dispelling anything that could have been blocking you from moving forward.

 

The whole "going through changes" thing is interesting. Usually when my mom appears to me in dreams, it's a sign I'm getting ready to go through a change. It took me awhile, but I've gotten to the point where I don't fight it anymore and just go with the flow. It's hard letting go of things, especially if it's been a security of sorts. That was one of my biggest issues.

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I didn't say it because I have no experiential basis for it, but Aina's suggestion that that was a physical manifestation of a spiritual event- was my first thought as well.

 

@ RR- So, I was aware of fasting before ritual for the classic spiritual uses of fasting as I understand them- which is to deprive the physical body and thereby render it less likely to interfere with what you are attempting, and also often as a sacrifice, and to improve mental and spiritual clarity. Are you saying it is common for people to become ill after ritual if they don't fast? If so that's very interesting. Would that apply to any type of intense ritual are just ritual designed to make some significant change within the practitioner ?

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It depends on the Ritual. It tends to go along cleansing baths, preparing the area, the things that people do that are all ritualistic even though it's in preparation for the actual Ritual. The bigger, the more elaborate, the more important - the more effort we put into preparations.

 

Sometimes, I do. Sometimes, I don't. I don't eat a big meal right before I go swimming either.

 

Physically digesting (especially carbs) is quite grounding. It can and does get in the way of the altered states required within a Ritual Setting. It's also why it's recommended to eat after a Ritual is completed.

 

Aina, I had the same thoughts regarding the vomiting during the night. That's rather common with these generalized banishing rituals - especially, if there is something going on with the practitioner specifically.

 

RG - Be happy it only happened on one end.

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When I first started meditating I had an issue with bathroom interruptions because I'd drink something too close to meditation time. Ever since, I've had the no food three hours before and no liquids two hours before meditation or rituals. Up until the day of the ritual, I tend to increase my water intake though, to push out any toxins. If I do a ritual Friday, then I'll start Monday and end Thursday (early evening).

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RapunzelGnome, to me it sounds like your banishment physically manifested as a purge. Vomiting has been used as a way to detox and purify the body forever.

 

Let's examine TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) theory for a moment. The seat of the mind is the heart, so emotional and mental disturbance can effect the heart. The heart works closely with the liver, known as the mother of the heart. When the liver goes crazy it attacks the stomach. The stomach, which we all know can react to stress quickly and sometimes violently, is the child of the heart. When there is an imbalance, especially emotional, they are all affected.

 

You DEFINITELY banished something but you need to now go beyond just ritual. You ripped off the offender and now you have an open wound. If it caused such a strong physical reaction when you stirred change, then your stress has already affected your body negatively and it needs to now be nourished.

 

I'm not an expert on TCM. I study it for the sake of understanding the connection between spirit, mind, and physical body. But I know this particular connection very personally. I couldn't tell you all the specifics like wind, heat, yin, yang, etc.o off the top of my head but you can easily research it and discover the exact imbalance yourself and what reverses it or see a TCM practitioner.

Increasing and decreasing certain foods and drinks in your diet usually does the trick over time once the trigger is eliminated.

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Haha, Rosered, no kidding! I had a bad of violent food poisoning last year and that is something I never want to go through again.

 

I will definitely considering fasting if I ever do such an intense and internal banishing ritual ever again. Like I said, I was pretty ruthless about getting rid of internal things that are quite deeply rooted. I think that the internal and intense nature of the ritual is reflected by the intensity of the physical reaction. I wasn't just banishing things from happening TO me but things that have made up a residence WITHIN me.

 

It wasn't a pleasant experience but in a way, I'm glad it happened. It made the experience very VERY real and grounded in reality for me and I think that I'm more likely to do whatever it takes to encourage and nurture the changes happening in me because of that.

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I do actually have a short list of things that I am focusing on building up this month. Good habits to replace the bad ones, healthy thinking to replace the bad. Creativity energy to replace the destructive energy that I have let go of.

 

I currently feel in a strange in-between phase right now. Not fully riding the high of a rebirth, but not fully mourning the death of the old either. A little bit of both maybe, but I am setting aside some time today to meditate on both short term goals and long term hopes and dreams.

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I suppose where you are feeling- this in-between place is rather reflective of where we are seasonally, if you observe that type of thing. Just a thought.

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Let me preface this by saying that I feel most witches have the capacity to shield themselves against external forces that may try to harm a witch's health. I feel that so much material out there is focused on protecting our spirit and mind that it's easy to forget that our bodies need protection as well! That can include setting firm boundaries with ancestral spirits: just because they were your blood doesn't mean they're immune to accidentally (or intentionally) mucking up your well-being. If a witch is exceptionally sensitive, that sensitivity can prove to be a weakness in the long run if they spend most of their time caught up in the cycle of Targeted > Sick > Recuperation > Well > Targeted. The good news is that such sensitivity can be managed (such as the other members' comments about fasting); the challenging- but do-able!- part is figuring out how to control that sensitivity without restricting it completely.

 

 

Has anyone else had problems with getting sick when they become a little lax in their spiritual practice?

 

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Because I don't venerate in my practice, I can't speak for your particular situation, but have a somewhat relevant experience that may be food for thought.

 

I agree with the responses regarding the cause-and-effect of breaking a routine. Last year, I noticed a pattern happening when I didn't make my weekly "communing sessions" with the genius loci of some nature spots that I frequent. I would simply feel a mild, general malaise if I missed a session. After some introspection, I realized that I wasn't being "punished" for failing to show up as promised, but rather my body was missing out on the exercise to get to the nature spots and subsequently I didn't feel as well as I would have after some outdoors cardio. I personally believe that the concept of Time is totally different among spirits, and I suspect that a land wight won't notice and/or care if I show up a day later than usual.

 

That being said, I have accepted that if I am lax in spiritually maintaining myself, I will get ill almost immediately. This includes making decisions and taking actions that aren't in my best interest (even when I'm convinced that the decision/action is the healthiest and wisest at that given time). The only way I know how to avoid this is to 1) proactively maintain an inclusive self-care regimen, and 2) always, ALWAYS listen to my gut.

 

 

When I first started meditating I had an issue with bathroom interruptions because I'd drink something too close to meditation time.

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It took me two freaking years of doing witchcraft to figure out that fasting often needs to include drinking liquids as well. For a while there, I had a pretty intense love-hate relationship with my bladder whenever I did spellcasting... :pinch:

 

 

I don't eat a big meal right before I go swimming either.

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+1 for that. I feel like the physical demands of performing certain aspects of witchcraft are severely understated in most modern craft-related lore and literature. (Not saying that's a good or bad thing, just survival of the fittest at work.)

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I suppose where you are feeling- this in-between place is rather reflective of where we are seasonally, if you observe that type of thing. Just a thought.

That's quite possible. It may also be a new moon thing, or perhaps because I haven't taken many steps in direction of things just yet.

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-------

Because I don't venerate in my practice, I can't speak for your particular situation, but have a somewhat relevant experience that may be food for thought.

 

I agree with the responses regarding the cause-and-effect of breaking a routine. Last year, I noticed a pattern happening when I didn't make my weekly "communing sessions" with the genius loci of some nature spots that I frequent. I would simply feel a mild, general malaise if I missed a session. After some introspection, I realized that I wasn't being "punished" for failing to show up as promised, but rather my body was missing out on the exercise to get to the nature spots and subsequently I didn't feel as well as I would have after some outdoors cardio. I personally believe that the concept of Time is totally different among spirits, and I suspect that a land wight won't notice and/or care if I show up a day later than usual.

 

That being said, I have accepted that if I am lax in spiritually maintaining myself, I will get ill almost immediately. This includes making decisions and taking actions that aren't in my best interest (even when I'm convinced that the decision/action is the healthiest and wisest at that given time). The only way I know how to avoid this is to 1) proactively maintain an inclusive self-care regimen, and 2) always, ALWAYS listen to my gut.

 

That makes sense. A lot of the time, when I'm away from my spiritual path, my clarify fades. With me, that seems to be one of the first things to go. I also tend to get frustrated. Thank you, this has given me a lot to think about.

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