I buy a shit ton of books, and when the miraculous occurrence of actually finishing reading one happens, I feel compelled to share my thoughts on it, so others can benefit.
Honoring Your Ancestors is actually a book I’ve recommended before in my post about ancestor veneration, however, at that time I had sort of skimmed it, read a few chapters in depth, but hadn’t managed to complete it, so I didn’t yet want to write a full review.
First, I will say that this is the most approachable book on ancestor veneration I’ve read. Vaudoise writes from the perspective of her own Catholic family roots, but with open and flexible recommendations that can be adapted to any belief system, if you don’t happen to have a cultural ancestral veneration practice already.
There are also lots of simple spells and prayers to ancestors for all sorts of benefits we may want to realize in our lifespan.
What I think I found most useful was the exploration of simply spending time with ancestors, whether they are known to you or unknown to you. Even if you cannot see, hear, or feel them initially, they will hear you when you speak to them and will help you with things if you ask and if you commit to regularly visiting with them.
I’ve seen the fruits of that labor in my own life recently. This book actually encouraged me to stop feeling so pressured and stressed about being perfect for my ancestors, because its not my perfection they want, its my time and love. And I think that’s a message we can all take to heart.
Another really useful section of this book that I think we can all benefit from is the development of medium abilities with ancestors.
If you are newish or still kind of novice to spirituality, working with spirits/deities/entities, or witchcraft, consider starting with ancestors (and spirit guides) first, as they are generally the easiest for you to contact and perceive due to genetic connections you share.
For that reason, ancestors are generally on your side, want to see you achieve greatness (whatever that looks like for you), and can function as your protective shield and spiritual bouncers when working in the spirit realm, astral plane, or even if you need them in the physical plane.
Ancestors may also be one of your first or most constant spirit guides, and it pays off greatly to begin your work with them.
I particularly felt the section on healing ancestral trauma was poignant. I think we all carry some degree of regret, shame, anger, resentment, or other typically negative emotions about one or more of our ancestors, if we know them. And this is almost unavoidable.
We will usually always have opinions about how someone else ‘should have lived,’ for instance. Now, if you have ancestors that did heinous things, you don’t have to feel bad about your anger toward them, so don’t take this as that kind of statement.
But back to the point, ancestral trauma works both ways. We can feel a certain way about ancestors, which can hold us back, and then our ancestors can carry traumatic experiences or emotions into future generations, which impact us.
I came to realize that I was holding resentment toward both of my grandmothers, who I was close to, but who passed away due to what I perceived as them making bad decisions or ‘being selfish’ and not living a healthier or longer life to be around for the rest of us. Just saying it out loud sounded so ridiculous, because, you know, its their lives and they made choices that had nothing to do with me, nor should I resent them after they’ve moved on.
That prompted me to have that conversation at my ancestor altar, get it all off my chest, and cry it all out. Which was incredibly freeing and therapeutic for me, and I do believe for them as well.
Your emotions about your ancestors may vary widely, but its important to at least acknowledge feelings and thoughts, even if you’re not prepared to forgive right now (or ever).
And then, we can also pray for the ancestors, even those that we’re not yet ready to forgive maybe due to something incredibly horrible they did, we can still ask for their souls to be cared for, cleansed, or otherwise forgiven, atoned, or similarly helped by source, God, a particular angel or deity of their faith, and so forth.
I think a really helpful takeaway from this book was that its ultimately not for us to judge, because we didn’t live their lives, and their circumstances were completely different from our own. But we can help them now that they have passed, as they, too, want to reach achieve higher spiritual states, and they can begin to do that through helping us in this lifetime.
And then finally, she discusses so many other points such as how to discern your ancestors from other spirits, how to fact check their information, what an altar can look like for you, offerings, and spiritual hygiene.
I definitely stand by my previous recommendation of this book and if this is something you want to incorporate into your spiritual practices, this is an excellent place to start!