For years I ignored the advice of many Wizards (I use that term broadly, in reference to Wise Ones of any path, gender, etc) who insisted that ancestor veneration was one of the first things anyone with a magical practice should be making space for.
Having a fairly non-traditional approach to these things that didn’t seem lacking, and not feeling particularly aligned to my more recent lineages, i couldn’t see the value in adding more to my routines when I’m too undisciplined to keep up with them as it is. If it ain't broke, why fix it? But now I get it.
What seems to be shifting is my sense of time; things seem less…linear. I might’ve imagined I’d have ancestral visitors in my dreams or little glimpses of old wisdom arise during trance, and maybe that happens too, but more significant is that the remaining vestiges of my adherence to linear time are eroding away, as if I’m experiencing life through the body of someone who never even believed in it. Non-linear time is something I was conceptually comfortable with, but to have it sink in and feel embodied is a different matter all together.
I kind of feel like a creature that spans 1000s of years back and forwards, like my short life is not just mine, but a ripple in a great river that flows ceaselessly through this and every moment, and all the drops of water therein hold a holographic imprint of the whole river. I feel less urgency about my own aspirations, as if they do and will arise and come to life if and when they’re meant to, even despite me. I feel like time and space are no longer barriers between the past, future, and myriad dimensions, because now I “know” it doesn’t exist.
And herein lies the potency I’ve found through ancestor veneration, perhaps why it’s so often regarded as foundational practice, why every magical culture has a place for it - because all your magic works better when the space-time barrier comes down, and you have access to the Wizards of the past, present and future. When you awaken the holographic imprint of that river in the blood that flows through you, a larger experience of life flows through you, one that's not bound by modern conceptions. And if there’s any assistance to be gleaned from spiritual dimensions that’s relevant to our human experience, it’s likely those who’ve had a body understand our needs best, and have a vested interest in our outcomes.
It seems that the specific ancestral energy I’m tapped into most is very old; it feels primal, and somewhat humoured if not offended that i assumed they might be Celtic. This goes back way further. And that’s worth noting if, like me, you’re reluctance to tap into more recent, obvious lineages has held you back. Skip some generations if you like, reach further back, there’s plenty more where they came from.
What the practices for me look like are fairly unique to my inclinations; I made a wand to connect specifically with the Wizards of my lineage, I tattooed my foot as a symbolic gesture to affirm my commitment to walk with them, I wrote them a poem, and practice ancestral skills to honour their knowledge and where we came from. I also do what’s more typical of most practices; making an altar for them where I leave offerings and make time to use as a platform for tinkering and communication. This is my Time Machine.
To build a Time Machine (or Ancestor Altar) you can simply make a special space in your home where you can leave out some cool water, some offerings of food or flowers, incense and light a candle. At intervals that feel appropriate to you, you can refresh these offerings, light the candle, ask for what you’d like assistance with, and say thanks to those who offer aid, protection and guidance. You can use this as a portal to direct trance work, or sit with this space and simply have a conversation, it doesn’t have to be fancy, keep it natural.
As optional extras you may include objects that are meaningful to you; photos of past loved ones, family heirlooms, symbols of your heritage, etc. I have a broken clock, a polished stone with markings that look like a cave painting, skulls, dirt, weathered stone, the colour black - anything that speaks to me as a remnant of or connection to the dead and times past. Suit your own style; aesthetics can be very useful in helping to conjure a magical vibe, but these are personal tastes - if dead stuff turns you off, do what works for you.
And if this all seems like too much trouble, like your practice is fine without it, like you’re a rebellious chaos Wizard who don’t need no help from no old dead folk, or you just don’t believe that the dead are still out there somewhere waiting to hear from you - I get it, I was there. I offer this because I know it took many pieces of straw to break this camel's (stubborn Taurus'?) back, and I’ll happily lay one of those straws on yours in case it helps to reach critical mass in the future. Everyone’s experience will be different and there are truly many paths open to us all, but if anything feels like it’s levelled my magic up - this is it.
Go forth and break time.