Dealing with Disapproving Ancestors

pbp1When I first moved into this apartment — the apartment that belonged to my Oma for 20 years — I tried to keep a spiritual/religious/witchcraft life going.

It wasn’t easy.

It never felt right, and it seemed that no matter what I did spiritually or religiously, I never got centred. Not to mention, a ton of small things continually went wrong.

Recently I had to pack away all of my altar items (with the exception of Aphrodite’s altar, because it just looks like a collection of pretty things on the bathroom counter), because we are trying to sell the place (which means it has to look like no one lives here — that’s so much fun to accomplish, let me tell you). Since doing that I have done basically ZERO religio-spiritual-witchy things, with the exception of Flamekeeping for the Cill, because let’s face it — I’ve got the sort of mind where things need to be right in front of me for me to remember them. With my stuff packed away into drawers and cupboards and boxes, I’m not going to pulling stuff out to do quick things and then putting them away again.

I still don’t feel centred at all, and honestly not being able to have a religio-spiritual-witchy practice is starting to drive me a little nuts.

But you know what has happened?

Things have slowly improved in the house and my life overall. My car hasn’t broken down since (I mean, I did get it fixed again, but that hadn’t seemed to make a difference before). My closet has stayed up and has not exploded again. The ever-present invasion of zombie-bugs into my kitchen seems to finally be on the downswing (note to self: clean up the bodies before the place gets shown again).


The thing is, I can feel her here, in the apartment. And I thought about doing a small ritual to ask her to stay out of my bedroom, so I could at least continue to do stuff in there — but I just never felt right doing that. So I figured I’d just try and coexist with my Oma’s Protestant ghost, hoping she’d understand.

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
I mean, come on, doesn’t he LOOK like a nice dude?  (Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia))

In her physical life, she didn’t approve of my religion, though she was never terrible to me about it, and at some point we managed to come to an agreement in philosophy: “Jesus was a nice dude.” I think it helped that her daughter had strayed from Christianity in her youth, eventually settling in Buddhism; this wasn’t the first generation of the family finding a new path, so she’d had time to come to terms with it.

Also, I was her only grandchild, and I think that after she lost her first husband and her youngest child, she probably came to a decision that differences in belief were not enough to cause a rift in family. She only had my mom and me after the death of my Aunt; all the rest of her relatives were either in Alberta or Holland.

Once she remarried, Oma kept her religious leanings more private — her new husband, my step-Opa, hated the Church and religion in general. He was the one in the family my mom picked up Religulous for, and he enjoyed it. (I had to walk out of the room before I punched the TV screen.)

But 3 years ago, she died. And in her last days, at the hospice, she asked my mom several times if mom thought she’d get into heaven. And she prayed, every day.

We thought, through her years of keeping her faith private, that she’d perhaps strayed from it. Sure, she didn’t approve of my religious choices, but that didn’t necessarily mean she was still a staunch Protestant. So it was a surprise, to us, that she still held deeply to her faith — obviously only putting it aside for peace in the family.

I know my Oma loved me and approved of me, the person, though she disapproved of my religion. And I love her, though I have clashes with her faith.

So in the interest of keeping peace in the family, I’m putting aside my practice until I can move into my own place. As long as I live in Oma’s old place, I’ll abide by her wishes.

This means no ancestor altar. No witchcraft. No daily prayers.

St Brigid's Cross. Re-decoration. Phase 6a
St Brigid’s Cross. Re-decoration. Phase 6a (Photo credit: amandabhslater)

The only thing I continue to do is my Flamekeeping shifts, and I get the feeling Oma doesn’t mind that. There’s enough overlap there with Christian practice, after all; perhaps she feels that’s a battle not worth fighting.

Or perhaps that is the one part of my religion she does approve of — the part that is directly connected to my writing.

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