Ancestor work is often thought of as something you do in the fall. It makes sense – the veil is thin, as they say. And after all, that’s when Samhain, the Wheel of the Year holiday that honors ancestors, is.
But, your ancestor work practice does not have to be relegated to a single holiday, nor does it have to be relegated to a single season. Just as we can connect to the earth in different ways in each season, we can also connect to our ancestors in different ways in each season.
Ancestor work, like most animist spiritual work, is relationship work. And a part of building relationships is building trust. I like to say to my students that consistency builds trust. Creating an ancestor work practice that extends beyond a single day or season gives you more opportunities to build a consistent practice, which builds trust, which therefore builds a stronger connection to your ancestors.
A common piece of advice for connecting to your ancestors is: Do things your ancestors would recognize. Cook food. Gather herbs. Make tea. Dig in your garden. Pray. Chop wood. Go for a walk in the woods. Watch the weather.
I think this advice applies even more so in the spring, when the land starts to wake up, and our bodies start to wake up along with it. There are so many activities that your ancestors would recognize that you can use as a bridge to connect to them.
Ways To Do Ancestor Work In The Spring
- Work with a native plant.
Pick a plant in your local biome. learn to identify it, observe it, watch it grow throughout the season. If it is safe to consume, prepare teas or other foods with it. Learn about its history and uses.
- Work with an ancestral plant.
Do the same as above, but with a plant that would have been important to your ancestors.
- Grow something from seed.
These days it’s easy to go to the local nursery and pick up some starts. But there’s something uniquely magical about planting seeds, pushing these yet-to-be living things into the dirt with your own hands, nurturing them, watching them grow and live, and then perhaps harvesting them and letting it fuel your growth. It’s also an action that connects you to your ancestors. We all have ancestors who relied on earth and seed to sustain their life and this is a great way to connect to them!
- Learn to build a campfire.
Maybe it’s my fiery rising sign, but building a fire always helps me feel connected to my ancestors! Already know how to build a campfire? Practice starting one without a match!
- Connect to the foods of your ancestors new ways.
Often we think of the food that connects us to our ancestors as hearty. Simmering stews full of bone broth and hearty root vegetables that can cellar all winter long. But your ancestors likely didn’t reach for a hearty beef stew in the summer. What would they have eaten in the summer? Pick up a cook book and find out! Cucumber and tomato salads are a few of my personal ancestral favorites.
Another fun, culinary-inspired ancestral foodway that is super appropriate for spring and summer is using a salt that comes from a region your ancestors lived in. You might not think about salt all that often in this day and age, but salt was once PRECIOUS because it is absolutely essential for life and required very labor intensive processes to procure. There are all kinds of fancy salts available online for not very much money!
- Spring Cleaning!
I say it in my e-book, and I’ll say it again: CLEANING YOUR HOUSE IS MAGIC! And spring cleaning is a time honored cleaning tradition! If you’re chronically ill, like me, this doesn’t even necessarily need to be a top-to-bottom, intensive scrub down. It can be as simple as opening all the windows in the house and letting that clear out all the stagnant winter energy!
- Tend to your ancestors graves.
This one speaks for itself, and it’s one you can do in any season. It’s been an important part of my own ancestor work practice, however, since childhood. Every Memorial Day my mom and grandmother would take me and my siblings to the local cemetery to clean the graves of our dead loved ones and to plant flowers for the summertime. If you live near where your ancestors are buried, this can be a wonderful practice.
Choose one of these activities and dedicate the action to your ancestors. Let yourself be mindful and present while undertaking the activity. What do you see, notice, hear, feel? What thoughts bubble up? How does it bring you closer to your ancestors?
Get started with your ancestor work journey with Journal Your Ancestor Journey, FREE journal prompts to help you get to the heart of your Who, What, and Why so you can begin to weave connection and relationship with your ancestors. Get the prompts HERE! I’ll be opening up enrollment for my ancestor work study group, Underworld Journey and you can sign up HERE to be the first to know when that opens up!