Destroying White Supremacy Through Ancestor Work: An Authentic Spirituality

Getting involved in ancestor work because you’re craving connection, because you want to heal your lineage, because you want to connect with the spirits who are most ready and excited to connect with your are all great reason to get started with ancestor work!

But what if you’re just not that into your ancestors? Maybe you’re estranged form your family, adopted, or have no or little access to genealogical records. Maybe you think it’s just a bit strange to be trying to connect with the dead. That doesn’t mean you cannot or should not do ancestor work, though!

Ancestor work can be a vital practice for everyone, and, in my opinion, everyone’s practice will be make stronger by engaging in ancestor work. I think this is especially true for those of us who care about justice, who are trying to live our values, and trying to create a better world.

Ancestor work gets you beyond the bullshit of this world that can snake its way into your spiritual practices if you are not careful. If you are yearning for a spiritual practice without the bullshit of white supremacy, appropriation, capitalist commodification, bio-essentialism and transphobia, barely veiled homophobia and misogyny, ancestor work offers a path towards a different kind of spiritual – one that connects you to nature, to spirit, to yourself, to your power, without society’s bullshit.

That’s because ancestor work pushes us to go beyond our modern assumptions and biases, to engage with spirits who knew times without white supremacy or capitalism. When you take the radical approach to ancestor work I have been outlining in this blog series, you will be encouraged to excavate the ways these assumptions have woven themselves into your life and into your spiritual practice.

Tweet from @thathoneywitch: "YT PEOPLE!!! WORKIGN WITH AND VENERATION OF YOUR ANCESTORS IS NOT A CLOSED PRACTICE
Tweet from @thathoneywitch

This type of radical ancestor work practice starts with the fact that ancestor work is a folk practice. It is a folk practice that is found the world over. Ancestor work is not a closed practice. While the specific expression of ancestor work varies from culture to culture the essence is the same: connection to those who came before.

That means ancestor work is not easily commodified. It means that ancestor work itself (though not necessarily specific rites and methods, which might be culturally specific and closed) is not an appropriative practice.

We can go further than that, though. When we construe our ancestor broadly and include our ancestors of affinity (such as queer ancestors, neurodivergent ancestors, movement ancestors) in our work, we are actively working to unpack the capitalist and colonial ideas of the nuclear family. When we view our lineages holistically and consider those from who we descend beyond the confines of the very recent constructions of “Italian”, “German”, and so on, we combat white supremacist ideas of bloodlines, purity, as well as borders and nation states. When we build connection and reciprocity with other-than-human spirits we combat the atomization of individualism. When we connect with ancestors who resisted capitalism and colonialism or who knew a world before capitalism and colonialism we expand our imagination and become better able to imagine and create a world beyond that as well.

Tweet from @theCBGrass: "I'd venture to go so far as to say that for spiritual/theistic white ppl, the world-accepting work of ancestor veneration is a vital aspect of work towards the necessary dissolution of whiteness."
Tweet from @theCBGrass

In all these ways and more ancestor work is a practice that helps you to get past the bullshit and into an authentic practice that actively combats that bullshit.

Tweet from me, @thelexritchie, quote Tweeting @theCBGrass: "ALL OF THIS!!! Ancestor work is a necessary part of betraying, attacking and dismantling whiteness. I would also add that it is a vital tool in learning to imagine and create a world beyond capitalism."
Tweet from me, @thelexritchie (Also, now that I’ve given this tweet a second look, it’s clear that there’s a typo. ‘Behind’ should be ‘beyond’. Sorry about that!

Ancestor work vital tool for betraying, attacking and dismantling whiteness. It is a vital tool in learning to imagine and create a world beyond capitalism. Ancestor work is a spiritual technology that offers a way forward from the intersecting nexus of problems we are currently facing. It is a spiritual technology for connecting to gifts, power, healing, enchantment, and joy. It is a spiritual technology for imagining new worlds.

If you’re looking for a spiritual practice that combats injustice and white supremacist/capitalist/colonial bullshit that helps you to actively combat and uproot those very things, ancestor work is a powerful tool, whatever you may think of your lineage ancestors who birthed you.

You can check out the other Posts in the Ancestor Work Series to learn more about ancestor work and how to get started with it:

Ready to go deeper into ancestor work? Over the next few months I’ll be sharing weekly blog posts about the what, why, and how of ancestor work. Stay tuned by subscribing to the FREE Liminal Letters newsletter! Or if you can’t wait to get started download the FREE Journal Your Ancestor Journey journal prompts to help you get started establishing your practice! Or book an ancestor tarot reading with me and get one-on-one guidance for beginning your ancestor work journey!

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