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Ancestors

As far back as I can remember, I've always felt drawn to those who came before me. I've often pondered whether this was a response to the difficulties of my childhood, but it feels older, more innate, and much of my younger childhood was filled with happiness.


As a young girl, I was surrounded by older relatives, nurturing me within a tightly woven cocoon of love and stories of our distant or previously departed kin. These stories would fill my soul, and I'd listen to them with love.


One of my earliest memories involves conversing with the departed in my Grandmother's garden, where I spent a great deal of my time. She was an enthusiastic gardener with ample space and time to introduce me to the Earth, the soil that I now hold sacred – a reminder of all that has come before. I would sit in her apple tree for hours, feeling completely at home and embraced. I still hold fond memories of that tree, like one would cherish a beloved, long-lost friend. Each year, I would watch its cycle with awe at its beauty and reap its bountiful harvest, often enjoying stewed apples and custard lovingly made by my nan or Great Grandmother.


During my formative years, much of my time was spent with my Great-grandmother, who watched over me while my Nan, her daughter, and my mother worked. We would spend hours cooking or exploring knick-knacks, always accompanied by stories of old, of bygone ways of living and memories from days past. We would dedicate many days to tending the graves of our departed relatives and friends, always sharing stories of the past, which I cherished with love. Even as a very young girl, I remember feeling a sense of peace and affection emanating from the cemetery. In later years, I would spend time there with friends, not in a disrespectful manner, but with affection, relishing its sanctuary and the sense of being in a liminal space, though I wouldn't have described it as such at the time.


I must also give special mention to my Grandfather. Despite my young age and never having met him in the earthly realm since he had past prior to my birth, I felt a profound connection with him. I believed he was brimming with love and watched over us like a guardian angel. Through inner child healings facilitated by innerdance, I later realised that much of the support I felt during childhood also came from within me. (I will talk more about this again) Nevertheless, I have no doubt about his enduring presence which gave me so much comfort as a child and into adulthood.


These early years, despite some challenges, were good years and, looking back, undoubtedly laid the foundation for my life's path. As I aged, the feelings that had always been present only grew stronger, not only in connection with my ancestors but also in my spiritual journey, as these two aspects are intricately intertwined.


When I was 11 and away with a friend, I remember the first time I received a message. I was packing the car when it felt as though someone spoke to me, but it was more like an inner voice yet not of my own, saying, 'You're going to have a car crash today.' I found it odd at the time but continued loading bedding into the car. That day, we did indeed experience a car crash. I didn't know where this message had come from, but I remember thinking that someone was trying to tell me something. Looking back, I often wonder if perhaps I subconsciously took a little longer to pack, and in some small way, that delay might have altered the outcome, making the crash less severe. Thankfully, we all escaped relatively unharmed. I recounted this event to my maternal Grandmother – Nannie – years later, and she instantly recognised it, recalling a similar incident years earlier when she was told that her husband, my Grandfather, was going to die while walking through her backdoor. He passed away that night.


Now, as I write this, you might expect me to delve into the story of how 'my mediumship began,' but despite several similar events, that's not the case and I certainly wouldn’t consider myself as such in any way. However, my love for those who have passed, whether relatives, friends, or even just the names on the cemetery graves, continued unabated. I have always held a deep reverence for those who came before me, as though they were the very roots of my being.


Perhaps this reverence can be traced back to living with my Grandmother and being so close to her and my great-grandmother. Maybe the funerals I attended with them sparked a profound respect for those who had passed, along with a sadness that I hadn't known them in life as well as I would have liked.


Later, when I took my first steps towards the veil to bring my firstborn into the world, as instinctual as the birth process itself (when allowed), I asked my Grandfather to watch over my firstborn; a practice I have repeated with subsequent births. Asking my Great grandmother to watch over my middle son and my husband's grandfather whom I'd suddenly felt present to watch over my daughter.


As my known relatives began to pass, starting with my beloved Nanna, I inherited as many of her old photographs as I could. Sadly, in the chaos of sorting out her house, some ended up misplaced. These photographs were more than just pictures to me; they were stories I had heard recounted hundreds of times, both as a child and as a teenager. Many Friday evenings were spent sitting in armchairs, listening to my Nanna share these stories through shared laughter, and they felt alive.


The photos I do have are held sacred within my home, and I remember them daily. They contain stories of love, struggle, war, humour, and secrets – tales that some might prefer to forget, yet they are an integral part of who I am. My Nanna passed away in my hometown of Fleet. I held her hand as she passed, with my Nannie, her daughter, and my mother by her side. As she left this world, I had an overwhelming feeling that we were not alone in that room. A few hours before she passed, I asked her how she was, and she told me that she was ready and unafraid. I believe she knew at that point that she was simply transitioning to the next stage. I still wear her bracelet on my wrist; I haven't removed it, myself, since she put it on me.


Inside my wardrobe, I keep some of my Nanna's most cherished items: a small box from Austria that plays 'The Sound of Music' song, containing letters to her from my mother and me, her late husband's last cigarette, and some special photos. Amongst these, I placed her watch. Several months later, I looked at the watch, and it had stopped at 3.27 – the exact time she had passed away months earlier.


Seven years after her passing, to the day, I was at work when I realised my bracelet was missing. I'd never taken it off, as I mentioned. I couldn't figure out what had happened and was obviously upset. When I got home, I found it resting on my pillow, I believe as a reminder that she was around or maybe that I didn't always have to wear it although, I still do.


Despite these experiences, my Grandmother's presence, though dearly yearned for, is not one that I have often felt.


Around ten years ago, I began attending Samhain rituals to honour our departed loved ones; this secretly became my favourite amongst all the events in the Wheel of the Year. On the first of these that I attended, I was, of course, hoping to feel the presence of my Nanna. I sat in a circle during the ritual, eagerly waiting. However, as clear as day, I heard a voice in my head say, 'Where's my bloody Scotch and coke?' with a hearty laugh. It was not my grandmother but my stepfather. He wasn't someone I particularly liked in life, but I have felt his presence on several occasions and now make an effort to remember him as well, along with his scotch and coke.


Samhain has undoubtedly been a time of year when I've had the most 'experiences.' It's a season to which I feel deeply drawn, and I eagerly anticipate its arrival. The remembrance and witnessing it provides resonate with me deeply, and I relish the sense of connection it brings. It was during Samhain a couple of years ago that I heard a voice I had almost forgotten – the voice of an old friend who had passed away far too young. His laughter, his distinctive way with words echoed in my head, telling me that he 'was everywhere,' a shamanic belief that I had not yet fully grasped, prompting me to light another candle and filling me with a sense of joy and knowing.


To me these experiences and those I have experienced during innerdance particularly have changed my suspicions to knowings where I hold no doubt whatsoever over the interconnectedness between the living and dead.


I have sadly long since moved away from my hometown of Fleet, a place that I still hold dear in my heart. Not for its common political beliefs, but for the stories and tales passed down by our ancestors who have gone before us. In its soil, the remains of my relatives are still held.


I now have only one relative left in Fleet, and I am grateful that she, too, carries a deep love in her soul for those in our bloodline who have passed before us. Although I didn't grow up with her and didn't meet her until I was around 11, she unquestionably shares my love for those who have passed. In fact, her partner, a distant cousin of mine, whose passing still stands out in my mind, and whom I still remember and I feel deserves a mention.


Chris was known as a bit of an oddball by those within my family who liked being perceived as very correct in manner, and I believe I would have liked him very much, though sadly, I didn't know him well in life, learning much about him at his funeral. He was a man of the Earth, dedicating his life to the study of nature and wild places, holding within him the stories of those who had passed. On the day of his funeral, after the ceremony, a rare moth landed on the hand of one of his friends. With wonder in his eyes, the friend excitedly went to show my aunt. Upon seeing my aunt, the moth flew from the finger and gently landed on my aunt's nose before flying away – a subtle nod, I believe, to the fact that Chris was still with us. I'm sorry I didn't know Chris better in life, but I now remember him fondly. I believe he knew far more than many.


I didn't know my own father well, and until recently, I never felt a strong connection to his side of the family with a lack of tales to go by, which is a shame because just as much as my mother's side, their experiences, lessons, and loves are also part of who I am. Recently, during a deep meditation session, I had a sudden vision of these relatives lined up through the generations. Along with this vision, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and a sense of poverty. It was interesting to me that much of that side of my ancestry came from India, a place that I have long felt called. I am currently on a mission to learn more about this part of myself and have added all those I can to my remembrance, as I believe they all deserve to be remembered in some way.


I am forever grateful for my connections to the older relatives in my bloodline, the stories they have told me, the handholding and lessons, the time spent in the garden planting or playing, the tending of graves and stories of those departed. I often feel sad that my children do not have the same level of extended generations within their day-to-day lives. Multi-generational upbringings are a rich treasure indeed, and yet they know these stories too, for I have passed them on. Those who have left our Earthly plain are not simply forgotten. They are known as much as any others, pictures hung on our walls and stories retold around the table still, there is a place within our hearts for each of them, and offerings for them I will continue to leave.


I wholeheartedly believe that our ancestors and our departed loved ones are still with us, within us, and all around us. They make up the very tapestry of our existence; their experiences become a part of our own. The things we are sensitive to, the things we fear, or the things that bring us joy – they all deserve to be remembered, even those like my late father and stepfather who taught us some of life's harshest lessons.


I have reached a point where I feel a fire burning within me to learn more, to step into this work in a deeper manner, and to make sure that the memories of these souls live on within us. I look forward to Samhain this year as always, but I will remember these souls daily and honour them within myself consciously. In knowing them, may we better know ourselves.

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