As an American of largely English and German early settler-colonizer ancestry, I was neither raised with a framework for ancestor reverence nor taught to value my own ancestors. Before my first experiences with ancestor-focused ritual, not only had I never heard stories about earlier generations of my people, I had never thought to ask. Turning to face this cultural blind spot has served as a gateway of personal transformation and healing, deepened my understanding of intact indigenous cultures and traditions, and inspired me to serve others of diverse lineages in the reclamation of earth-honoring wisdoms.
In my own experience and for the thousands of others whom I’ve guided in ancestral healing since 2005, we return in spirit to a time before our specific lineages stopped openly tending to relationships with the ancestors. Timelines vary depending on the origin of one’s ancestors. In my case, I now understand my earlier ancestral amnesia as a symptom of European colonialism and white-body supremacy that has so profoundly shaped recent centuries of human history in the Americas. Only within the last five hundred years were these troubles then exported in earnest to most of the rest of the Earth as a kind of cultural contagion. Before my people crossed the Atlantic, the indigenous, pre-Christian traditions of my Northern and Central European ancestors were already profoundly fragmented by Roman and Christian empires within Europe. When I initially sought out ancestor-honoring traditions of my people, I realized the fires had been cold for centuries. Ancestral reconnection along European lineages often means visioning back thousands of years.