My Journey To Ancestor Veneration
As a little girl, I had dreams. Scary dreams. I would see death. Death would happen. I would see accidents. Accidents would happen. I was told they were night terrors. But night terrors do not come true. Night terrors are not inflicted on the living. Yet this is what happened to me.
Going to church you are taught that speaking to the dead, erecting altars to your ancestors, and any other type of spirituality is pagan. That you will go to hell and burn forever.
Funny thing is, they don't tell you that pagan is a term that just means a person is from a village. "late Middle English: from Latin paganus ‘villager, rustic’, from pagus ‘country district’. Latin paganus also meant ‘civilian’, becoming, in Christian Latin, ‘heathen’" Nor do they tell you that the concept of the Christian hell is from GeHenna. "A small valley in Jerusalem" In the Hebrew Bible (old testament) Gehenna (valley of Hinnom or rather gë ben hinnom, valley of the son of hinnom) was actually a place where some of the kings of Judah sacrificed their children by fire. In later literature (new testament) Gehenna is a destination of the wicked (hell). Sheol, was also considered as hell, although in earlier times, it just meant the grave and a little later the abode of the dead.
I find all of this odd, because in the old testament, there is no talk of after death judgment or hell fire. It only speaks of death as a change or transfer of energy, when the body does nothing yet the soul either sleeps or returns to its maker. (Eccl 9:5, 12:7)
But that isn't why I am writing this. I am writing because as a little girl I was scared of my spiritual gifts. Scared to try and hear what dead people wanted to convey to me. Scared to lay my hands on people in order to heal them. Scared to speak a spiritual language because it sounded different than what I heard was tongues in church. I was terrified I was going to burn in hell, for something I had been born with. Something that had been with me ever since I can remember. Something that had been passed down to me from my Ancestors.
I was never comfortable in church. I was always seeking spiritual fulfillment and never finding it. I studied those study guides and that BOOK with everything in me. I prayed like crazy. Yet I felt like I was constantly being tossed. I was drifting. And always scared I was doing something wrong that would land me in hell.
I remember the pastor of the church I was attending had asked me to attend this event where this famous evangelist was speaking. When I tell you I am thankful that my spirit was always connected to Source!!! While there, the evangelist said he was going to count to three, then he wanted everyone in the building to begin speaking in tongues. Well I got my behind up and out of there with the quickness. See Spirit spoke to me and told me that, that was conjuring unknown evil and that I needed to remove myself from that place. And I RAN!
Anyway, during Sunday school I was always curious. I asked many questions. But one Sunday an elder was teaching. He didn't belong to our church but he subbed every now and again. During this lesson I had tons of questions. He was always writing on the board in Hebrew and Greek. Initially I thought this was crazy, until I began to study the bible from this perspective. Like I said I had questions.
See the lexicons and dictionaries and Hebrew and greek words didn't line up with the English too much. And I had begun to understand that many didn't understand what was going on or even what the bible said. So I asked my question. And he looked me in my eyes and said, Sister Gaston, keep seeking truth. Some things don't make sense because it isn't in there."
I left that church eventually, went to another and did not find peace. One night after I had left the new congregation, a storm rolled in and the wind blew that building down. I mean leveled it. When I later ran into the pastor he told me that it was because I had left. I did not return to church after that. I did not step foot inside a church for over ten years, but I learned A LOT.
I also had been wondering about a great many things. Like why was I so in tune to storms and the cycle of the moon? And why did the bible say pay attention to the signs of the celestial beings and keep feasts on their days, yet people celebrated not these things but days that according to their book would be deemed heathen, ungodly, and pagan? (I laughed here)
I had always been drawn to wind and rain storms. Had always been amazed by the turning of the moon. I thought people who worshiped the moon and sun were wicked, but I knew that they held a power over our moods and energy. I didn't understand it, but I knew this to be true.
One day, I stumbled upon a photo of my great grandmother. Until that time I had never seen a picture of her. I didn't know what she looked like, nor did I know her name. But, when I looked at her picture I felt my spirit jolt. It was like I had been struck by something. I couldn't breathe. My chest was tight, my heart was racing, and tears began to run down my face. I knew I had to take her picture with me. I knew I was spiritually connected to this woman. How? I didn't know. But I would soon find out.
Later that day, after getting home, I looked at her picture again. It struck me how much my eldest daughter looked like her. (My mother recently told me that she sees her in one of my grands too. The one that looks like my daughter)
Grandma Roberta was/is my grandfather's mother. Initially I thought my connection to her was because of him. I hadn't yet realized it was through him. Every time I looked at her picture the same energy flowed through me.
It was then that I spoke to an ancestor for the first time. I said to her, "Grandma Roberta, I love you." And I began to cry. Hard. Tears just flowed like crazy. And sure enough, as it did every time I was in that other space, that unknown language began to flow from my lips. As always when this happened, i could see things in my mind. But this time it showed me something that tore my heart. I saw a woman who looked like Grandma Roberta being burned alive. Her crime? Healing with herbs and stones and speaking to the ancestors. She was labeled a bruja by the Europeans that had raided her village. Her punishment was being burned alive. I also knew that her daughter and some other people from her village had escaped. They would later be brought to the Americas as slaves, but they brought with them something that could never be taken from them. Their spirituality, their ability to heal, and their love for their ancestors.
After this phenomenon other things took place. I went to buy some crystals. The woman who rang me up started crying. I was like whoa lady. She spoke to me. Told me my aura was strong and she could feel this healing energy all around me. She told me that she could see that I came from a long line of healers but that I had been scared of my gifts and had run from them. That I had denied them. She said it came from a grandmother and that it had been passed down to me and my children. She told me to stop running from them and embrace them. It was like she could read my mind or something. The experience shook me to my core.
A few days later, I had a similar situation happen. A lady came in to the store I was working at. As I was ringing her up, she asked me if I was a healer. I gave her a blank stare. She said she could feel the energy. She also told me I needed to stop letting people touch me because they drained my energy. I was shook. Like I had, had this happen all my life. Whenever I would shake hands or hug certain people it would take my breath away. But it was more than that. Sometimes I could feel energy radiating from a building. Sometimes just standing next to a person could make me feel exhausted or sad or worried.
After this, I started speaking to Grandma Roberta more. She told me to build an altar and give thanks and honor to the ancestors. I did just that. Almost overnight the dreaming I had suppressed started again. But this time I didn't shy away from it. I welcomed it. I was led to crystals that would help make my dreams better understood. I began to hear from my Ancestors. I welcomed them. I felt their pain and their sorrow. But I was learning how to help them.
The closer I got to my Ancestors, the better I began to feel about me. Honoring them and loving them, helped me to really love and honor myself. I started to grow up too. I mean like really grow up. Things didn't matter any more. I became more concerned with nature, the environment, and the natural forces around me.
I became more conscious about what I ate, how I took care of my body, how I spoke, how I treated others, and how I allowed others to treat me.
Now I have more photos on my altar. I speak to my Ancestors every day. They guide me. They reprimand me. And they are teaching me about who I am and what my purpose is.
Most importantly, I am understanding the truth about spirituality. I am learning about my connection to The Divine and how I fit in, to this cosmic and supernal existence.
15 years ago I would have considered myself a pagan. Today I understand that I am divinely feminine. Truly a spirit having an earth experience. I am becoming whole. Finally! For the first time in my life, spiritually I am free. And it feels so good!
There are so many ways we can speak to and connect to our Ancestors.
We can simply speak to them. They are aware. They are available. And they are listening.
We can set up altars. We can add photos, candles, incense, water, and flowers, or anything we choose to gift to them. As long as our hearts and our intentions are pure, they are accepting of our gifts.
How we behave, how we treat people, and how we speak to people also is how we show respect and honor to our Ancestors as well as The Divine. We always have to act and speak in a manner that shows love and light. For to move in darkness is disrespectful and it also creates darkness in our lives.
Teaching our children our history is also how we honor and revere our Ancestors. By teaching our history to our children, we keep the memories of our Ancestors alive. We keep our traditions and our culture alive. We keep our connection to The Divine alive.
It is true that due to slavery and colonization many things have been lost to us. But Spirit dwells within. And once our hearts and minds accept relationship with our Ancestors, we will find out that through them, our connection to Spirit becomes stronger.