The Spirits of our Ancestors

I am in the process of reading a very informative (and also visually captivating) book called The Religions Book by Ambalu et al. In the book’s discussion of “primal” religions, the authors mention that in the earliest religions and many indigenous religions it was considered possible to communicate with one’s ancestors in another realm. The idea that those before us have wisdom to instill upon the current generation is a belief held by many faiths, as is the idea that we should seek guidance from our past.

There is a common phrase which states that history repeats itself, though I believe it doesn’t have to. Whether you believe you can literally communicate with your ancestors or not, there is much to learn from our past. There have been great successes and great failures and there is wisdom to be found in both. Living in the American South I live in a land that has been shaped by fierce determination and perseverance, but also strong prejudices and violence. I must choose not only to grow from the strengths of my culture, but also from its moments of weakness, realizing that we are always closer to the unthinkable than we realize.

What lessons do your ancestors long to teach you? What would they say of success and failure? Of love and hate? Of courage and fear?

Listen closely. History is speaking.

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4 thoughts on “The Spirits of our Ancestors

  1. It’s so true. I think one lesson that we tend to take for granted very quickly, is that we ought to treat others the way we would have them treat us. The things which make us different do not, necessarily, have to make us enemies to each other. And yet it’s one of those lessons we just can’t seem to nail down.

    Alicia often makes a point in her vlogs of reminding us that, whether it be as a neighbourhood, or a country, as a people, we must all share in our successes together, as we bear the consequences of failure together. There is no second class of people, and if we are to succeed and grow stronger, we must not continue to allow ourselves to fall into the “us vrs. them” mentality. Because we are ……. we. For better and worse.

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  2. “we must all share in our successes together, as we bear the consequences of failure together” That is such a powerful concept. This is definitely a lesson we can learn from our ancestors. I hope we can be the generation to pass a message of unity to future generations.

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  3. The main positive lesson I feel like my ancestors have to impart is: endurance. The farther back in time you go along your family tree, the more those predecessors had to endure. And our predecessors did, obviously, or we wouldn’t be here. I derive some courage from that spirit of survival.

    The main negative lesson would have to be intolerance. Just as with endurance, the farther back you go in time, the less educated one’s ancestors tend to be and the less understanding of the diversity of experience and identity. I try to appreciate the cultural context that limited my ancestors’ understanding and to appreciate the world we live in now, where we have such exposure to diversity and so many opportunities to learn about it. That inspires me to be all the more accepting and understanding.

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    1. I love this great perspective. Following what you’ve said here, we know that there is endurance within all of us. It flows within our blood and we come from a line of those that have survived, regardless of hardship, disability, or frustration: we are survivors.

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