essay ancestress magic lineage

Ancestress Magic Lineage

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Our ancestors live on inside us, and our lineages of wisdom are calling to us to remember the ancient mothers who birthed us, and threaded us onto a loom of love.

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* Matrinlineal Magic

* Nature Networks

* Village Entanglement

* Spirit Familiars

* Vulvic Sorcery

Calling the Ancient Mothers

M y childhood homeland of Yorkshire has always felt like a mother to me, especially the magical sacred ceremonial landscape of Hope Valley, in the Peak District of England. Every step of my healing has involved a re-braiding with the memory of this ancient landscape, and the wisdom it is keeping about the ancient traditions of the Goddess and the Mother culture - including the legacy of the Forest Mystics and Magdalene devotees, Robin Hood and Maid Marion, who wove garlands of flowers and placed them on nature altars. I believe this area is part of a grid of geomantic magic every bit as powerful as Avebury or Glastonbury, and that its secrets are ready to reveal themselves. The heart of this tradition is the Ancestress Magic of the feminine mysteries beloved of the Old 'Uns.

On top of Mam Tor are burial chambers thousands of years old, with family burials in Treak Cavern suggesting that Neolithic people lived around Mam Tor 7,500 years ago. Mam Tor was also home to later Celtic tribes who lived in terraced round houses on the peak almost 3,000 years ago. This indigenous Celtic tribe called the Brigantes worshipped a Goddess called Brigantia, likely related to the goddess Brighid – and her memory lives on in the land. In the 1970’s an ancient stone head sculpture of their Goddess was found in a garden in the village of Castleton, at Rose Cottage, site of the village’s ancient well, and where the Garland Ceremony started every year in May. The sculpture was 3,000 years old.

Rituals, such as Well Dressings and Castleton’s Garland Ceremony with a King and Queen have likely descended down to us, in an unbroken line of spiritual memory, from these Ancestors and their Goddess of the land.

Shall we open the magic door and visit these old ‘uns who sing on within our bloodlines?

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Come on in, and make yourself at home. Let's put on the kettle and have a chat. Everyone seems to be talking about Ancestors these days; ancestor worship, ancestor healing, ancestor honoring. I want to talk to you about the Mam Tor Ancestors and Ancestresses from my neck of the woods, and a lineage of the Goddess rooted in earth, memory and practice for at least 7,000 years, based in the ancestral lands of Hope valley, in the Peak District in the north of England, where the Derbyshire dales and Yorkshire moors meet each other for a kiss and a bit of a mystical knees up.

I want to welcome you inside an old world, still quietly existing, where you're invited to take your shoes off, let down your hair, and feel what it’s like to belong to an ancestral family that is entwined into the legacy of the land and the ancient Goddess lineages. Now before you ask, this is not ancestral healing as such, this is Ancestress Magic. This is everyday feminine magic – its motherly, warm, cosy, inviting, creative, fun, mischievous and full of honorable revelry, festivity, and wild ceremony.

It connects us to the web of all the folks who still live within the earthrealm, and all the plant Ancestors who live alongside them.

In the Mam Tor lineage the Ancestresses of the motherland want you to feel welcome and at home. As long as you wipe your shoes on the mat when you come inside, and follow basic rules of common decency, there's no need to have complicated notions and be prostrating yourself at every moment with thanks. In fact, the Ancestors will think you pompous and rather strange if you do. Asking and thanking too much often insults their dignity, which is rooted in the law of generosity. As mothers, they want to feed you, and they trust that you'll return the favor. The greatest gift we can bring along is our own fullness, our own awen, so we can weave together. The precious sacred offering is our deep passions and gifts.

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At this strange time in the world, we need to descend to meet the Ancestors in their realm (which includes our body, our blood, and the inner dimensions of the land spirit) and call upon a very ancient feminine magic. Ancestress magic is about befriending the spirit of the land and place, and the Ancestral Mothers. It can be summed up in one phrase "Village News'. It's true, the Ancestors like to gossip. They know everything about everyone, and they have vast, interconnected networks of information, that span across all timelines. It makes our tech world look rustic. It's about getting to know each other again, and knowing ourselves.

Village news is about starting a conversation; listening when proper, and then sharing from our own heart. It's a communion, an oracle of intimacy. It’s that instinctive feminine trait that truly cares and likes to know what’s going on with everyone else. Scientists would call it entanglement. It is an ancient form of uploading and downloading information, and making sure that you’re up to date with all your friends and neighbors, including those who have fur, those who are green, and those without a body.

In fact, nature herself loves nothing more than a cup of tea and a chat. From Tree root neural networks to mycelial networks, which science makes sound all fancy, in the feminine terms what it really is this: village news. The trees chat to each other and swap stories, and they alert each other to what's happening elsewhere. That’s the feminine desire to connect. When we enter a wood the birds start singing to each other, telling each other about the human entering their world - they are chattering about you, and telling all the forest about your life story.

Most importantly, as humans, we are connecting to the Ancestress Line – the foremothers and grandmothers whose wombs birthed us, and who hold us safe within their magical bloodline, which still runs through our own veins encoded with their memories, and their old wisdom. As they birthed their babes, they rooted their love into the future, and are still with us even now. We are surrounded by a spirit circle of ancient mothers and grandmothers, and we came from their ancestral womb and are kin.

Ancestress magic is something that accompanies us everyday, and is very familiar. This is why witch's spirit helpers were called 'familiars'. It’s not grand and epic, it is a relationship that you build every day, by sharing news, food, stories, confessions, ideas, inspirations, and just chewing the fat, having a laugh together, sitting comfortably in silence, or swapping tales, and having heart-to-hearts about the small stuff, and the big stuff too. Nature becomes like family. This is kinship. Just share what’s on your heart, listen, and let that deep love bond grow, day by day.

In middle English ‘familiar’ meant to know someone in the sense of being ‘intimate’, or ‘on a family footing’, it also means ‘to serve’ in old French. It means you’re one of the team, you’re belonged, and you’re not too fancy to roll your sleeves up and muck in if necessary to help out. This familial bonding extends out to all of the web of life, because we all came from the same cosmic womb, and are all siblings and relatives of that dazzling stardust that once birthed us. The Universe is a womb of connection.

This heart-full familiarity and kinship is the bedrock of this connection to land, place, people.

You don't have to do complex rituals all the time, or be too serious. In fact, the Ancestors and the spirit of the land has a wicked sense of humor and cannot abide anything too serious and pompous. As you begin your Apprenticeship into Ancestress magic, most likely they will set out to 'prank you', which in my lineage is called 'taking the piss' - which is an old ritual to check you don't take yourself too seriously, and can take some heat. The Ancestors do have some serious work to do, and they don't want to get stuck with self-righteous bores. Indeed, to call them up, your best bet is to really make them laugh. Tickle their fancy, make them smirk; entertain them. Our traditions are full of wise fools, clown and jesters.

This is why, since time out of mind, with a sly wink and a bawdy nudge, Trickster spirits have always had an honored seat within all ancient cosmologies, mythologies and sacred traditions across the world.

You see, there is a reason for this. The only time I've ever known the Ancestors go quiet at the kitchen table, with a sorrowful look pass across their ancient eyes, is when someone mentions the times when the shadow fell across the land; when they stopped the festivals, banned the feasting, dropped the garlands, turned the dancers into stone, forbid the May day revels, and called the topsy turvy prankster rites, where all known order is turned upside down, unlawful and dangerous. When the keeners were forgotten and the harps fell silent. Those who have lived and died, loved and lost, know one thing; life is meant to be celebrated. The Goddess herself demands it; with all her wild, feral, primal eroticism.

The Ancestress’ remember when covens of wild (sometimes drunken) women reveled across the lands, flashing their vulvas to give blessings, protection, and, well, just to show off. They remember that there is a bawdy brass to magic that calls up immense elemental forces, by the sheer power of laughter, and irreverent joy. Just ask Baubo, who is quite an expert. How the Old Ones have mourned the ways the sour taste of puritanism has invaded our very bones. They long for us to dance again.

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In England, the medicine people were called “cunning folk”. Think about it, what does ‘cunning’ rustle up? It means they weren’t “nice” in a sickly-sweet cherry pie way – it meant they had nous. They were wise, and they might ‘wise you up’. The root of cunning is the title of ‘cunt’. Also related to cant, where we get incantation, canting, enchantment; our feminine wombcraft, and part of the practice of the ancient arts of vulvic sorcery.

They were cunt wise, fully owned by the wildness, willing to fly, crawl and caw their magic alive.

So with all this in mind, the Mam Tor lineage I know, invites you to remember this sense of familiarity and fun, this wildly enjoyable aspect of magic, rooted in the body of the land and the blood bond of our bodies, celebrated with garlands of flowers, feasting, food magic, everyday ritual, beauty, tears, vulvic sorcery, plant consorts, seasonal ceremonies and plain old love. Ordinary ecstasy is medicine, and pleasure heals us.

It’s a world where we can gather again, in all our higgeldy piggeldy humanness and heart bliss. Where we can grieve, praise, laugh and weep.

I can't speak on behalf of anyone else’s lineage, but I can speak for mine. In fact, I've been asked to by the Old 'Uns themselves. I've planted the bodies of my mum and dad in the foothills of Mam Tor, and watered them with my blood, and my tears and prayers. Their bodies, like generations of ancestors, going right back to those who worshipped the old Goddess Bride and lived and loved in round houses on Mam Tor's summit, are now entangled across time. I have entered the witch cave of the mountain, and been summoned into their world, a curving, time spiral of memory.

For one reason or another, the Ancestors are on the move again - especially the mothers who made us - come to shake us up a bit.

They've asked me to send you an invite, to come and join them for a bite to eat, to swap stories and share news. We've all had a long journey, right? This is a moment to take refuge, like the weary pilgrims of old who stopped for a rest and a pint of ale and a pie. If your blood roots are in England or the Celtic faery lines, then welcome home. If you're from other lands, there's a place at the table for you too, for a slice of cake and a cup of tea. In fact, the aunties of the land can probably send a postcard home for you and collect the village news from your ancestors.

You see, the world is connected by a vast network of clucking aunties and grandmothers, whose roots go all the way down to the center of the earth, where Her heartbeat connects us all, and weaves us together.

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