Spring is the Perfect Time to Connect with Your Ancestors

Autumn is the season of the ancestors, right? The autumn seems like the obvious choice for cultivating ancestor connection. Plants die; trees shed their leaves. The natural world dies back, retreats to the roots, enters a period of rest. It immediately puts us in mind of the dead. There’s just a vibe, right? Plus, so many of the traditional ancestor holidays take place in the fall: Samhain, All Soul’s Day, Day of the Dead, Giorno di Morte, Halloween. These all take place around the last days of October or the early days of November, as autumn slowly slides into winter, as a death-like rest settles into the land here in the Northern Hemisphere.

And it is true that all this seasonal priming can make it easier to connect with the ancestors for the first time. However, so many modern practitioners (myself included), honor their ancestors throughout the year. And in many ways, I find that I personally like my practice better and find it easier in the spring than in the fall. Just because we’re primed for it and it can feel easier in the fall doesn’t mean it’s the best or only season to connect to the ancestors.

Springtime is a great time to connect with the ancestors. And, like I said above, it’s my personal favorite time to connect with my ancestors.

If you’re a Wheel of the Year person, this can be framed in by looking at the Beltane-Samhain axis. Beltane and Samhain are corresponding cross-quarter days. Cross-quarter days sit between the quarter days (the solstices and equinoxes) and are hinge points. They are the blending-shift-mutation of the energies of the seasons they straddle.

Whether you honor the Wheel of the Year holidays or not, the sense of seasonal shifting that occurs around these days is palpable and we can use that seasonality as a model for understanding the magical potential of these points in time. Just as Samhain stands on the threshold between Autumn and Winter, Beltane stands on the threshold between Spring and Summer. These moments hold the balance of the cycling, shifting, turning.

And importantly for our respective ancestor work practices, they are times when the living plant life of the Earth are either retreating below the soil, or spring back to life. These turning seasons were seasons where there was much activity in preparation in order to ensure a good harvest and a safe winter.

In the winter, the flowers retreat beneath the earth, back to their roots. In other words, they return to the Underworld. In Greek tradition, anything beneath the surface of the Earth is the domain of Hades [1]. In the Autumn, the plants retreat to the Underworld and carry our messages to the ancestors. In the Spring, they spring up from the Underworld, carrying messages from our ancestors.

What messages does this newly springing life carry up from the underworld for you? What messages from the ancestors do they hold?

Reasons to do ancestor work in the spring:

  1. Ancestor work is about life and living! That’s easy to forget that if you’re only honoring your dead in the autumn.
  2. There is no right time to do ancestor work! The best time to do ancestor work is when you feel called to do it!
  3. Working with your ancestors throughout the year builds a stronger connection. It also helps you become familiar with seasonality.
  4. Liminality is a gateway into the underworld. And spring is a liminal season! The smells of springtime, the muck, the worms, the vernal pools…these are underworld and can act as a conduit for connecting to the ancestors.
  5. The Underworld feeds our growth. The death and composting that happens in the autumn is what feeds growth in the springtime. These aren’t separate processes; they’re deeply interconnected and interwoven. The death that feeds growth and the growth fed by death. These are portals to the underworld that are deeply present in both autumn and spring.

Ancestor work is the work of no single day, no single season. If you’re feeling called to get in touch with your ancestors, to do ancestor work in any form this spring I hope you’ll heed that call. Particularly if you want to understand ancestor work as a life-supporting practice.

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[1] Mastros, Sara Leanne. Orphic Hymns Grimoire. 2019.

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