A Call from the Ancestors
Author: Rev.Roman Delgado
As I sit before my altar, I’ve had a memory, a vague knowing of something past calling me to return to myself. As if the echoes of those gone before call me into a path walked by many in Aeons past. A feeling as if what I have lost to the sands of time and waves of progress and technology as only been forgotten and craves to return.
So many have felt this call before me. I have seen it on the news, then Internet, books. Everywhere people today seem to want to return to the ways that have been lost to time. Revival and reconstructionist religious movements are being seen from the black fertile lands of Egyptian religion and the fields of Greece to the Ancient Aztec world.
The path of the ancient ones calls, yet so much of it is forgotten. Through the Aeons past in which change and progress have changed the landscape of Gaia, those gone before us seem to have been swallowed by sands of time. No longer do we seem to want to cross the river Styx; few are those that delve into the path of transformation and cross the bridge to the land of the dead and return like the true initiates of the mysteries of the ancients transformed and renewed.
Today’s society has rejected death. On a pragmatic level it makes sense. Life is meant to be lived not mourned. Life is lived for its own merit not for the sake of its end. However, in the process of forgetting the importance of death, we have forgotten the reality of transformation. Death and life is not only a never-ending spiral in the great wheel of rebirth.
Death is all around in times when only life can be seen. Death is the forbearer of rebirth and, as each thing grows anew, it is a sign of transformation. It is a sign that something else has come to an end in order to bring forth the light of a new era. In paganism this becomes obvious through myth and celebration of the changes in the cycles of life and nature. We celebrate change, yet only delve into what brings change when we actually face it.
As I sit before my altar every day, I hear a call so many ignore unless they wheel of the year tells them it’s time to hear it. A call to change and transform, to die and be reborn. In my path as a pagan, I come from an indigenous background, I have traveled in body, mind and spirit cross cultures to better understand my own past, to understand the Alchemies of the soul.
Along that path I have understood that ritual is transformational. Every time I am in the presence of the divine I am changed and healed. Yet when I traveled outside of my roots into the modern world so many ignore the call of death in their ritual. The call to let go and surrender to the divine, to commune with the God and Goddess, is a pivotal role: the Alchemy of the soul.
In Mexico, I learned about this alchemy as the rites of Coatlicue an ancestral deity ruling over life and death. Her rites were those of shamanic initiation, the dismemberment of the initiate and his reconstruction as a being that holds the wisdom of the ancestors.
Once that pivotal moment is passed I learned the Alchemy of Tezcatlipoca. His rites are of initiation into the darkest parts of one’s own soul. His mysteries are for the ones destined to tame their own fire and harness it into the power to weave destiny. It is the magic of the Ancestors.
Now in a later stage of my development I learn the Alchemy of duality. My Ancestors called this the teachings of Quetzalcoatl and Xochiquetzal. The ancient Egyptians called it the Alchemies of Isis and Osiris and the Alchemies of Horus. Their teaching is the teaching of embracing change, the inner change that fortifies the soul and life-force in order to withstand the change that is the ultimate test of the Alchemist: the culmination of the alchemical process, the attainment of eternal life. A mystery that can only be lived, a choice moment to be in this world or in spirit. That too is the magic of the Ancestors.
Throughout the world, religion is centered on eternal life. Some along the never-ending cycle of re-incarnation. Some in the rebirth after death into an eternal moment of bliss and rest. Yet there are some that only embrace this moment and this life; it is in this moment and life that some religions find death and rebirth.
In the rebirth of Paganism in the western world, so many have ceased to hear the call of the Ancestors. The teachings of the departed are more or less confined to grieving the dead and honoring their memory when the natural world turns to darkness. I must tell you, there is far more to it than that.
The Alchemies of which I speak are the teachings of those who have lived them and mastered them. Blood bonds or not, we are all descendants of our spiritual lines. The Alchemies of the soul are the legacy of the ancient priests and priestesses of the Gods.
The role of the Alchemies is to prepare the Initiate for eternal joy and mastery, be it in the afterlife among the dearly departed or in the ever-present moment that is this world.
The call to the Alchemical mysteries of the ancients lies through the land of the ancestors. It is a call to acknowledge the need for death in life. Not giving up the joys of the world, but to give up what keeps us apart from divinity. It said among initiates of mysteries schools that the true magician must jump the great chasm to achieve the great work. One of the dual secret meanings of this phrase is that the chasm is both internal (states of mind) and spiritual: the chasm between one’s self and divinity itself. As voodoo practitioners say to westerners under a different context: “ You people go to church and pray to God; we go to church and become God”. You see the inner mysteries path of the ancients is simple. It is found in words of Doreen Valiente’s poem, “The Charge of the Goddess”:
“…If what thou seek that does not find within, thou shall never find without. For I am that which has been with thee from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire…”
The path to desire lies through the path of death and rebirth. Through letting go and being transformed, it is a path of internal sacrifice, letting go of what separates us from the Gods, our Ancestors and all creation, sacred from the times of the ancients to this day. As it is said in the Charge of the God:
“Let my name be within the body that sings, for all acts of willing sacrifice are my rituals…”
Let us not forget the call the Gods made to the Ancestors long ago. A call passed on to us. A call to death and rebirth, life and afterlife. A call that shall echo in the minds and souls of the initiates through all eternity…