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Table of ContentsSoul / SpiritCommentariesSysliene T.

Soul / Spirit - Commentary
Sysliene T. -
7 / 28 / 2002

Spirits of the Dead

The concept of ancestor worship is not one very common, here in the Midwest. In the culture I was brought up in, Southern, it is quite common. We would not refer to it as ancestor worship, but the idea that the dead can influence behavior and events is a common one. This fits my definition of ancestor worship. I practice my tradition in two ways.

First, I talk to my dead. I tell them what is going on, the good and the bad. I ask them to lend me their strength, and to intervene if possible on my behalf. The phrase "the dead are always with us" to me is a true one. They comfort me in times of need, because I feel that they are with me. In many ways it is, for me, a more intimate connection than I may have with my Gods. However, I have no expectation that they will do everything simply because I ask them to do it. Aas a mother makes her child do the work to learn things, so must I, or as my papaw would say, "God helps thems who help themselves."

The second way my ancestors aid me, is to remind me that things have been rough before. And that, in spite of that, we as a family have continued on. Now I will admit there are members of the family who should have been drowned at birth; who bring no honor to the family. But there are those who have been upright, and those are the ones I talk to when times are rough. I have never felt that they are displeased with me. I get the impression that my leaving Christianity has made them unhappy, but that the fact that I live my life in a way that they would perceive as "Christian" makes me think that they believe that I have just gotten lost. And like the Prodigal, I will return to the fold.

I have had two experiences in my life when my ancestors have intervened directly in my life. The first was when I was 16 years old. I had fallen in with some people, now looking back, who were probably part of a cult. I was young and naive; they were pressuring me to leave my family and join them. They were very good at giving a sense of security and a feeling that it would be a good thing to do. In the last meeting with them, I had made up my mind to go with them, when suddenly things stopped. I felt totally separated from them, when I saw/felt my Great Aunt. Her presence was strong and carried with it a warning. A sense of her saying, "Get up and leave NOW!" Then things resumed their normal flow. They had noticed nothing. In that moment I decided to leave. They tried to make me stay by laying hands on me. Fortunately I had learned from fighting my bigger and older sister how to get out of that sort of thing, and got out. I don't know what happened to that particular group of people. But I don't regret listening to my Great Aunt.

The second experience was similar and involved the same Great Aunt. I was older now, and had been in the Craft for a long time. Someone tried to put something on me, a spell or somesuch. Again, I felt her presence, but this time it was in me. When I looked at the woman causing the mischief, I saw double, but from within me came the word "No." Not spoken outloud, but delivered all the same. I then felt something shatter around me. Then I was alone again.

She does not approve my beliefs, but she loves me all the same and acts on my behalf when she feels the need. I have not felt her in long time; I hope that she has moved on to whatever she needed to do.

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