Kindling the Fire at Home & in the Community

I is for Inviting the Dead

When some people hear the word dead” it makes them uneasy, nervous and maybe even a bit frightened. Our society sees death in a way that incites feelings of fear for most and others to envision their idea of the afterlife. While we are fully aware of the inevitability of death, we don’t like to think about, much less discuss what death means to us as individuals. Many cultures honor those who have gone before them, believe in showing respect to their ancestors, have altars for them & even pray to them. Very few actually call upon them and invoke them though. That is where the spiritual communities between Pagans and others diverge because many Pagans call directly upon specific ancestors for help, counsel and comfort without fear, apprehension or nervousness.

So, what does it mean to invite the dead? Inviting the dead is just that… an invitation to join us. Some choose to do this spoken aloud as an invocation. I do speak it aloud, but I don’t invoke my ancestors, I simply ask them to come be with me & invite them. With an invocation, I feel like it is more specific and almost demanding… I believe with my Gods & Goddesses that they don’t mind to be invoked. In fact, I believe they look forward to the times I call upon them specifically for their aid & counsel. With my ancestors though, I feel like they would not like so much to be invoked, so instead I call upon them and ask/invite them to join me.

How would someone go about inviting the dead? This is something that is most often associated with Samhain rites, but many Pagans choose to call upon or honor ancestors at other times. During Samhain, when the veil is thinnest, it’s common for Pagans to use divination tools such as scrying mirrors or crystal balls to gaze through the veil in order to receive messages from their ancestors. In order to create a tangible connection, many Pagans create an altar for their ancestors that consists of photos, small personal items & letters to the deceased to reach out to them. If you celebrate Sabbats with a coven or circle of Pagans, reaching through the veil and connecting with your ancestors becomes a relatively easy task if the energy of the group is raised together from my experience. It’s a really awesome experience to see, hear or feel the presence of someone you love and miss… and even more amazing when you are able to connect with a relative or ancestor you may have never met in life, but share a spiritual connection with in death.

Why would someone want to invite the dead? The same reasons we’d seek them in life… we appreciate their perspective, we trust their judgement, we feel close to them in a way we may not to someone on this side of the veil. The reasons someone would choose to invite the dead are as varied as the practitioners of the craft are. There are some questions you may feel only a mother can answer, but what do you do if your mother has crossed the veil? For those of us who practice magick, we would contact her and invite her to a rite. To have the feeling that despite the physical absence of a loved one you can still communicate with them is a comfort.

Is there a right way to go about inviting the dead? Absolutely. My first recommendation is to bring items of a personal nature to the person/people you intend to try and reach: clothing, photos, trinkets, a letter, etc. Next, create a cleansed & consecrated circle that is protected. Inviting the dead can arouse the interest of other spiritual entities. Then call on them specifically and invite them to join you. Tell them that you have questions, concerns or need their assistance. Lastly, choose your method in which to contact them and communicate.

Some ways that people may contact the dead:

  1. Scrying
  2. Crystal Gazing
  3. Dumb Supper
  4. Ouija Boards (I do not recommend this method, as it can result in unwanted spirits to be contacted. Although I did try this when I was younger with success.)
  5. Psychic medium (If you know and trust someone who has this ability personally, go for it, otherwise, I advise against paying for the services of a psychic medium who you cannot ensure is reputable.)

Whichever method you choose, it is wise to do some research on the method, understand the way to do it, use your own divination tools and ask the advice of experienced practitioners. Like any skill, contacting your ancestors is something you will have to work at. It may take you several tries without any results, but if you are persistent and pursue your efforts with an open mind and heart, chances are that you will eventually make contact. It may not be a lot of pomp & circumstance at all though. It may just be a whisper or the feeling of a cool touch on your hand or maybe it’ll be even less physical and just a sense that you are not alone. It may take you years before you ever actually see anything in the physical realm that we live in, but don’t get discouraged, your loved ones & ancestors may be a little shy to make contact in that way. I have been trying to contact someone for several years now, without success of ever seeing him, but I often feel his presence… and that has been enough for me.

The point in inviting the dead is to reaffirm our feelings of interconectedness,  honor our loved ones and our ancestors who have gone before us and to call upon their wisdom and knowledge. In doing so, they can witness our journey as we walk a path that they would be proud of. If you have not tapped into this spiritual resource, I encourage you to do so. The rewards you will reap will surprise you.

Blessings,

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3 responses

  1. Interesting… I find it easier to connect with certain branches of my ancestors than others. I’ve always wondered why that is! The ancestor altar is one of my favorites, and Samhain is definitely easier to feel that connection (Beltane as well – though for more joyous reasons – Samhain seems more a time for more weighty matters to me).
    I am not a fan of Ouija boards, either; my favorite divinatory tool is the Tarot – my ‘past’ cards usually contain a message or contact from Ancestor.

    June 26, 2012 at 9:28 am

    • Do you mean one side of the family as opposed to the other?

      I really like having an ancestor altar for Samhain. It feels right to me to honor the dead in that way on that sabbat especially. I have considered having one in my house on a more permanent basis, but haven’t set one up yet. Still debating on that idea.

      Ouija boards were a favorite of mine as a teenager. Particularly because of the freak out factor and also because I was able to connect with it so easily. I was superstitious enough to not ever use one by myself, but I used them numerous times with negative results that required banishing & cleansing. When I first started using it I knew very little about the need to create a protective barrier between me and it. Nowadays though, I just know how to use so many more effective methods, ouija boards are of little interest to me.

      As far as divination goes, I like runes & tarot most of all. For contacting the dead though, scrying works best for me. 🙂

      June 26, 2012 at 11:38 am

      • Yes; definitely one side of my family is easier to connect with. I think it has to do with their belief system though; they don’t believe that there is anything that carries over after the body dies, so I wonder if that leaves them cut off from being contacted beyond the veil?

        In any case, I haven’t had much luck with scrying, but I would like to practice more – finding quiet time to practice is somewhat difficult though!

        June 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm

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