Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Mallorie Vaudoise, author of Honoring Your Ancestors.
As an animist, I experience the world as alive with spirits. I see the intelligence of animals, plants, and stars.
Because the world is alive with spirits, we don’t need to go out looking for them. There are spirits all around us. For most of us, having a good relationship with just three types of spirits is necessary and sufficient for a healthy existence in the animist ecosystem.
1. Your Own Spirit.
Hey, we’re spirits, too—spirits who chose to experience human incarnation. The closer in touch you are with your own spirit, the more of those vital experiences you get to have in this lifetime.
Exercise: Separate Ego from Spirit
Pick a desire you fantasize about. It can be a job you want, a city you want to move to, or a person you have a crush on. Take a moment to breathe and feel this desire in your body. Now, make a list of all the fantasies you have about this desire.
Once you have completed your list of fantasies, read through them one by one. Which of these fantasies are driven by ego? Fantasies driven by ego reaffirm ideas that you have about who you are (or would like to be). Fantasies driven by your own spirit break free from societal norms and often emphasize connecting with others or sharing your gifts with the world at large.
Once you understand which fantasies come from where, you’ll have a better chance of manifesting your true desires.
2. Your Ancestors
We had to get here somehow. Our ancestors paved the road for us to arrive in the material world. And, even though they’re not physically here anymore, we still feel them in our language, food, music, and stories.
Exercise: Pray to Your Family Tree
Make a list of your ancestors. Try to list out as many of your direct blood ancestors as possible. You can also include other types of ancestors; if you were adopted, you can include your adoptive ancestors. If you had other caregivers as a child who weren’t blood relations, include them, too. This is your prayer practice, so don’t leave anyone out that you’ll miss and don’t include anyone you don’t want to.
Read through the list, and after each name, pray a simple blessing. (“Rest in peace,” will do.) After you’ve read through the entire list, pray a slightly longer blessing. I like the Requiem Prayer for this because most of my ancestors were Catholic. But, you can use a different prayer, or make up your own. (I include prayers from several traditions in my book, Honoring Your Ancestors: A Guide to Ancestral Veneration.)
Praying for your ancestors opens you up to receiving their guidance and blessing.
3. Spirits of Place
And where are we, exactly? No one can really tell. But every place has a spirit. There are the glamorous witchy ones, like crossroads and graveyards. Then there are the unsung others: apartments, gyms, dive bars, etc. If honoring your ancestors renders your practice in glorious technicolor, then honoring spirits of place kicks it up a notch with 3D glasses.
Exercise: Smooth Transitions
Transitions are hard—both the big life transitions and the small transitions from place to place. Pick a day to add intentionality to those small transitions. Make an apotropaic gesture (like the mano fico: make a fist and stick your thumb between your middle and pointer fingers) every time you move through a doorway or cross a street.
How does the practice of transitioning with intention affect your consciousness?
Our thanks to Mallorie for her guest post! For more from Mallorie Vaudoise, read her article, “4 Simple Steps to Commune with Your Ancestors.”