We Will Be Ancestors

Presented at about 11 PM at The Gathering for Life on Earth on Victoria Day long weekend 2015 for a group of 10 people.

Tools and materials: One good pillar candles with holder, tiny flashlights or electric candles and cue cards for each quarter callers in a basket or bowl, a pitcher of water, drum, singing bowl, a bowl of egg shakers, small clay bricks, plate of cookies, offering plate, tea in a thermos, athame, offering mug. Each participant is instructed to bring their own mug and a towel.

Setup: The beach area is set up with the basket of flashlights and cue cards, the pitcher of water, the singing bowl, and the bowl of egg shakers all in the centre of the ritual area. The bricks are piled to one side. The pillar candle and everything related to food and drink are in the indoor location. The drummer can either carry his drum to and from or leave it at the beach in advance. Everyone meets at the indoor location for the explanation and to leave their clothing and mugs.

Instructions from Priestess:

All activities in this ritual are optional. You may opt out at any time and for any reason. To indicate that you are opting out without leaving, please step back from the activities and cross one arm across your chest. You may opt back in as well by simply stepping back into the activities. You may also leave the ritual at any time; we’re not casting a Circle, so no particular actions need to be taken.

We are all adults, so we will assume that you will take care of your own needs. If you need help – physical, emotional, or other – at any time, please tell us.

This is an outdoor skyclad ritual. You may wear shoes, cloaks, or bring a blanket. You will also want to bring your towel. Please leave your mugs and clothing here; we will be returned to this space for food and drink.

What to expect during the ritual:

At the end of the ritual, there will be an invitation to take a plunge into the lake. You do not have to go all the way in, or even go into the water at all. Do as much or as little as you like.

Mid-ritual, there will a slow spiral dance. This is not intended to move quickly, as we will be on uneven ground in the dark. If you prefer to keep the beat, when people start joining hands during “We are an old people”, simply step forward to allow the people on either side of you to join, and grab an egg shaker from the centre.

There will be a section where you will be asked to make a commitment to building a better future. You may answer this question out loud or silently.

Let us begin!

Everyone undresses.

Ritual:

The priestess lights the pillar candle and sets it in the centre of the floor. Everyone gathers in a circle and joins hands.

Priestess:

Breathe… [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Breathe… [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Breathe… [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Feel the ground beneath you. [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Feel the air around you. [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Come home to your body. [Pause for full breath in and full breath out.] Prepare to enter sacred space. Blessed be.

All: Blessed be.

Priestess:

As we head silently down to the beach, meditate on these questions: How will you build a better future? How will you create beauty in this world we have inherited? How will you be an ancestor worthy of offerings?

The priestess picks up the candle and leads the participants down to the beach in silence. Everyone forms a circle. The priestess places the candle with the other ritual items in the centre.

The quarter callers come into the centre to receive their flashlights and cue cards. The priestess picks up the pitcher of water and kneels in the middle of the circle. The drummer steps outside of the circle and stands in the north and starts a soft heartbeat drum beat. As quarters are called, he slowly walks around the outside of the circle. Note: All quarter callers speak into the centre of the circle.

North:

In the North, we remember our hardworking ancestors who planted the earth and created hearth and home with their own hands.

The priestess pours a small water offering and says: Blessed be. All repeat.

South:

And we remember our possessive ancestors who drew lines across the land and created the other to be our enemies.

The priestess says: We remember. All repeat.

East:

In the East, we remember our clever ancestors who created science and technology and invented things that ease and enrich our lives.

The priestess pours a small water offering and says: Blessed be. All repeat.

West:

And we remember our thoughtless ancestors who exploited the earth and left us a legacy of over-consumption and pollution.

The priestess says: We remember. All repeat.

South:

In the South, we remember our passionate ancestors who loved even during hard times and without whom we would not be here.

The priestess pours a small water offering and says: Blessed be. All repeat.

North:

And we remember our angry ancestors who killed over imaginary differences and slaughtered to secure resources.

The priestess says: We remember. All repeat.

West:

In the West, we remember our creative ancestors who created culture and invented art and music to be shared across the ages.

The priestess pours a small water offering and says: Blessed be. All repeat.

East:

And we remember our unfeeling ancestors who exploited other people and the earth to advance their own interests.

The priestess says: We remember. All repeat.

The priestess stands:

In the Centre, we remember all our ancestors because they made us who we are. We pour this offering to those who came before us knowing they were people, good and bad, but that we still come from them.

The priestess pours the rest of the offering and says: Blessed be. All repeat.

Priestess sets aside the pitcher and picks up the singing bowl:

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath into your heart. Release it. Take a deep breath into your gut. Release it. Take a deep breath into your feet. Release it.

The priestess starts the singing bowl singing. Note: The drummer is still holding the quiet beat and circling very slowly.

See the world that our ancestors created. Be a witness to all its beauty and wonder and to all its horror and pain. Know what we have inherited.

Return to your breath. Take a deep breath into your heart. Release it. Take a deep breath into your gut. Release it. Take a deep breath into your feet. Release it.

See the world that we can change. See how we can create more beauty and wonder and how we can heal pain.

Return to your breath. Take a deep breath into your heart. Release it. Take a deep breath into your gut. Release it. Take a deep breath into your feet. Release it.

Know this truth: we will be ancestors.

Drummer: We will be ancestors.

All: We will be ancestors.

The drummer gets a bit louder and starts to chant:

We are an old people
We are a new people
We are the same people
Wiser than before*

Once everyone is chanting, the priestess puts down the singing bowl and takes a pre-chosen person’s hand and begins a very slow spiral dance inwards. Once the spiral is established, she lets the second person continue to lead it and she goes to the pile of bricks. The spiral leader creates a circle, but continues moving and chanting. The drummer gets a bit quieter again.

Priestess:

We will be ancestors.
Let us be worthy.
Take a brick and make a commitment to building a better future.

The spiral leader spirals back out and each person drops hands and takes a brick from the priestess as they go by. They change to a new chant and reform a circle:

A-tesh-na-anna
The dew is on the grass
The spirit of the ancients
We are children of the past
The one breath that creates us
Is the one breath we all take
Makes a rainbow round the world
From the love that we all make
Hey hey ya hey ya hey ya
Hey hey ya hey ya hey ya**

When the chant ends, the drummer stops as well. He picks up a brick and rejoins the circle. The priestess picks up the singing bowl again and kneels near where she poured the offerings earlier.

Priestess:

How will you build a better future? How will you create beauty in this world we have inherited? How will you be an ancestor worthy of offerings?

The drummer steps into the centre and places his brick and makes his commitment. The priestess rings the singing bowl and says: So mote it be. All repeat.

The drummer begins to hum as he returns to the circle. The spiral leader does the same. Everyone follows one at a time until everyone has placed a brick and the humming becomes toning. Everyone joins hands and slowly raises them as the energy builds, then drops them together at the peak.

Priestess:

What our ancestors have created lives on in us, both good and ill, and what we create now will be left for the generations to come. One day, we will be ancestors, and we will aim to be worthy of the title…

But that doesn’t have to be all that serious.

She turns and runs into the water, submerging completely. Everyone (hopefully) follows, to much squealing and screaming.

When everyone is back out of the water, everyone goes back to the indoor location for the food and drink blessing.

One person holds the plate of food while another blesses it:

By the Divine, this offering is blessed, and we share this food in the spirit of community. Blessed be.

All repeat: Blessed be.

The person who blessed the food puts a portion of the food in the offering plate or bowl and says:

To the gods and goddesses of our tribes: past, present, and future.

The food is passed clockwise with each saying to the next: Be fed. Response: Blessed be.

When the food has been returned to the altar, one person holds the thermos while the other lowers the athame into it and says:

As the athame is to the lover, so the chalice is to the loved, and joined they are one in truth.

The person holding the pitcher pours a portion into the offering mug and says:

To the gods and goddesses of our tribes: past, present, and future.

As the thermos is passed clockwise, each fills their neighbour’s mug while saying Thou art God or Thou art Goddess. The recipient responds: Blessed be.

After everyone has had their tea and cookies, all stand and hold hands.

Priestess:

The circle is open, but unbroken; merry meet, meet part, and merry meet again! Blessed be!

* By Deena Metzger, morning feather (Will Shepardson), Greenham Common, Jess Shoup

** Traditional

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We Will Be Ancestors by Melissa Hope is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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We Will Be Ancestors was originally published on We're Made of Mud and Magic