Category Archives: Social Issues

Being With Ancestors


And we too shall be ancestors…. With the startling colors of autumn as we come upon Samhain/Halloween/the Day of the Dead– time of ancient sacred traditions at the cross-quarter mark between the autumn equinox and winter solstice, we experience the world-shaking importance of the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland , next week. As I see this conference as an important part of the struggle to save at least some of Earth’s miraculous capacity to produce and sustain Life, I bring the ancestors into my consciousness–blood relatives of mine going back millions of years, all other human ancestors, and all forms of Life which have existed on this indescribably wondrous globe.


Ingredients: One womb, varying fragments of Earth, such as soil, salt, clay, minerals, fungi, parts of plants and animals, spit, stream water, a huge amount of beautiful soul, DNA of sperm, DNA with whole egg–and passion. Before gathering the above, sit in Nature and invite as many ancestors of all kinds, as you can hold in your reality. Ask for their wisdom as you set upon creating this Earthling. After this thank the ancestors for their guidance. Then while concentrating on the sacredness of your task, search for the ingredients and put them in your basket. Next, except for the womb, mix all together in a wooden bowl and add enough extra soil so it becomes dry enough that you can mold it. Fit it carefully and gently into the womb and store in a dark warm quiet place for about nine months. The Earthling should then be helped with great care out of the womb and be nurtured and loved.

I have long been concerned about our society’s seeming lack of respect and devotion to the ancestors–this of course exempts those who do regularly bring ancestors into their consciousness. I seem to be one of these people despite not being Indigenous, Black, Asian, or a member of another group doing this. Ancestors are just with me, and sometimes my relationships with the dead can seem stronger than when the person was alive; they are alive in me. And sometimes I experience especially close relatives, in my expressions, appearance, words, sense of humor, singing, moving, my special interests and loves.

At COP26 in Glasgow will the participants invite the ancestors for guidance, and for the wisdom and caring of all past generations? Surely there is some ingredient that can awaken our species — not just much of the populous, but all the leaders, the “powerful,” to the fact that we all sit on the precipice, at this moment, gazing at the end of most Life, of reality around us. And we can change the picture in front of our gaze–that is the amazing challenge. How can we not be stirred to the depths or our souls and commit to paint the picture we want to see?!

Greta Thunberg is one young person who is awake and dedicating herself to being the global crier, bless her. Joanna Macy has devoted her work to showing ways for us to heal into the blessedness of this Life, this sacred Earth. Many organizations in many places are putting the planet’s future as a priority. What seems something very necessary is for borders to be torn down: we cannot mend these issues separately, with contradicting priorities. For the first time in thousands of years we have no reasonable choice but to act as one human body. Can we do that? One would think the answer would be “yes!” to such a life or death matter. Yet what have we done together to meet the issues of environmental disasters, refugees and forced migrations, poverty, violence, hatred, corrupt corporations and governments, the military monster that enfolds the world, the misunderstandings and hatred–the greed? Fear grips much of humanity, and the destruction of habitable land, of water resources, of the oceans, and the reality of conditions that propagate pandemics do nothing to mitigate the fear.

Fear can lead to more violence and conflict–can inflame hatred already there. Yet the ancestors are always with us, ready to answer our calls for help. At this cross-quarter time in our northern hemisphere as many plants show their colors before the leaves drop, as the bears fill their stomachs to be ready to hibernate, it is said that the veils between the seen and unseen worlds drop. It is an ideal time to be with the ancestors, to listen to their guidance, feel their caring; we can assume their lives were lived in ways they felt would help those to follow. Earth Herself can bring the ancestors to us: we know that Nature arises from the dust, the flesh and guts, the brains which the ancestors left and that we in turn will leave. In some there appears a distancing from Nature, from the feminine. The blood and guts of the feminine task of birthing, the final decisive ending of death, are functions of Nature as feminine. If we harbor a friendly embrace of this feminine Nature, there is no separation of death and birth. I could not have been born but for this slimy smelly stuff which includes the birth and death of my ancestors.

This all becomes a Sacred being-ness that envelops our lives. The fear of death is the fear of the feminine and of Life. Inside the fear of life humans can become unable to flower into their potential being. In a Chisti sufi explanation, the Arabic Ya Hayy (Ya indicates a calling-in of the power of the following word) points to the Life Energy which Neil Douglas-Klotz writes is an energy hidden deep within us that “…infuses the air we breathe ….” He states the sufis would say our preoccupation with our own “…concerns, hopes, and fears blinds us to the life energy moving around and through us.”1 In The Physicians of the Heart this term is called the “life principle that never dies” which is “…the living presence of everything, whether it is dead, alive, animate, inanimate, material, spiritual, or anything in-between.”2 Having a close spiritual relationship with this Life Force which is a part of us and in all else, can mean coming AWAKE to this critical moment. And with this we do not fear death, and do not hide from Life with its potential for us to manifest all to which we aspire.

It is my deep hope that the COP26 will not ignore the parts played by the pandemic and by war and nuclear weapons in today’s crisis. All these threatening conditions in the world now are connected, and exist by human means. It could be that the very fact nations store, build, and sell nuclear weapons just takes us further down the hole of separation from the Life force and the will to make needed changes. Having the constant terror of such weapons can give the sense there is no use, anyway. The dictator’s inhumanity, the corrupt billionaire’s greed, starving refugee children, the homeless, the oppressed, the reluctance of some governments to change the basis of their economies: all are parts of the greater challenge. Humanity can recognize itself as one family, and as we have not prepared for this, it may have to happen by the shocking realization that it has to be. Perhaps only shock could have the power to break open unconscious fears in such sudden fashion (I shall go more into these fears in another blog piece I am writing). “Enemies” would become working partners, insecurities would be swept aside for the sake of global cooperation. Weaponry can be destroyed along with the make-believe world that brings it forth. Feminine nurturing and caring principles would be prominent.

Or we can all just have a picture of us running toward that great extinction, as if it be our only path. Humanity can choose to live for a vision most meaningful, more beautiful and fulfilling, more filled with community, love and compassion. This common Mother, this Earth, can inspire us, as She has with untold numbers of our ancestors, with a passionate love for Her, for Life, for future generations. This can give our present lives the deepest meaning, it will bring us together with people beside whom we never dreamed we’d walk. There is an energy so profound that can come to us if we have the courage to break the many barriers so long constraining our species. We can be constantly in the awareness of miracles and find treasures in our lives everyday.

We can bring the ancestors into our lives anywhere, any time. They can come to us in our breath, in music, in our deepest pain or joy. Nature embodies them emotionally and literally, and many of us find this the favored way to access their love, inspiration, and caring. One can reach out a hand, and that reach will be answered; one can ask for an arm around a shoulder, and that arm will rest there, within the ever present ever-living.

All my relations.


  1. Douglas-Klotz, Neil. The Sufi Book of Life (New York: Penguin Group, 2005) p. 168-9.
  2. Meyer, Wali Ali, Bilal Hyde, Faisal Muqaddam and Shabda Kahn. Physicians of the Heart (San Francisco, CA: Sufi Ruhaniat International, 2011) p. 62.

Photos by the author