Ancestor Spirits

My uroma took a drag from the cigarette in her gnarled hand and then pointed its smoldering bud towards me. Evil men come, she said in the same manner as she might tell me to fold laundry, and all you can do is have strength. Evil men. Böse Menschen. The smoke from her cigarette curled around us, twisting like hair caught in the wind. She handed me the cigarette and told me to drink a beer for her later. I inhaled the tobacco into my lungs and returned to Charon’s river.

Böse Menschen. Evil men.

Uroma lived through two world wars and the Russian occupation of Berlin, she survived an alcoholic husband and raised three children. The woman I met in her life was frail and old, broken by a disease that ravaged her mind and body, but the woman I have come to know is a dragon. She is the iron fisted matriarch who ruled my family for years and she is the woman whose guidance I often seek.


Within our genes and DNA live our ancestors; they are the foundation that built us from the first single celled creatures on our world to our grandparents. They swim through our blood and call to us in our bones and if we listen we can hear their songs. Some like my uroma speak bluntly, while others move around my consciousness as instincts and intuition; communicating to me and to us all in their own way.

I was discussing my ancestors recently and was asked if I was communicating with ghosts. This actually seemed silly. Why would I need to try to reach out to a ghost? I’m talking to the parts of my ancestors that exist inside me. I don’t need to look outside myself and quite frankly neither do you.

When the “evil men” crash through my life I seek guidance from those who have come before me and I have strength. I drink a beer for Uroma and whisper thanks to my disir and they sing to me: do not fear, you have strength within yourself.

Of Snakes and Journeys

A year ago I began down a path through otherworlds and underworlds, where visions flowed like water from a tap. I met gods and spirits and came to know my disir, my ancestral and  family spirits, who guided my journey as a wolf, shark, and snake. It was so natural and fluid that when the tap dried, I was at a total loss. Trance states became difficult, almost impossible to enter and the visions I received were clouded by the mundane and murky. My disir reached for me but I struggled to reach back. Hecate pointed a gnarled finger and named me lazy. What could I do?

Then one of the witches in my circle, more wise in the ways of Hecate than myself, suggested I stop trying to journey, she urged me to focus on the mediation, not the vision. Bah! What is the meditation if not a means to journey? Why breathe and chant and ground and cleanse if not for visions? I was frustrated and disappointed, I thought I was simply not talented.

I let my friend’s words take root and germinate for a few days before I conceded to myself that perhaps she was correct.

So I chanted and lit my sage, cleansing and clearing my space. I grounded and centered before me, besides, me, behind me, besides me, above me, below me, within me, and around me. I went back to the basics and focused on my breathing, I focused on the rhythm of my lungs and heart and let that be my drum beat. When the room around me slipped away and Yggdrasil called, I had finally let go of my arrogance.

The great ashen tree lead me to a place of fire where a snake was waiting for me, my disir called Cilia. In my hands she poured henbane seeds, so I sung to them and they grew and flowered. I ate the flowers and through their poison I saw stars fall to earth and the cosmos stretch into infinity.

Hygeia by Gustav Klimt

Hygeia by Gustav Klimt

While I journeyed through chaotic plains, my friend and fellow witch at Crescent Over the Crossroad was also speaking to a snake. Her great python is wise and had words for all vision seekers, oracles and seers alike.

Oracle work is not a tap to turn on when you wish or to turn off when you choose.”

You cannot take small bites of the visions,
you will choke.
You must swallow them whole.”

The otherworld is not a tap we may turn on and off at our own whim. The worlds do not flow for us, but through us.