Spirits of the Ancestors

Most pre-Christian cultures maintained ceremonies for honouring the ancestors. Traditionally, the quietest period of autumn, just as winter is settling in, offers us all a between-the-worlds opportunity to summon ancestral spirits and commune with the dead. The shaman lights fires and beats his drum to call the ancestors, hoping to gain wisdom and inspiration for the tribe.

At this time of year, the Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead. On the eve of November 1, the Celts lit bonfires for Samhain. The invisible worlds open their gateways to human visitors – but this is a time fraught with danger. The dark gods of the underworld may be tricksters. This is how Hallowe’en originated. The Christians converted ‘spirits’ and ‘ancestors’ to ‘saints’ – and the festival was renamed ‘All Saints’. But the underlying archetype remains the same: you can choose to enter the dark night in order to meet other-world helpers. Be willing to get spooked and hold on to your amulet, talisman, crucifix – whatever. Remember, the dead are not automatically or necessarily wiser because they have died, although they may bring a new perspective. They can help us realise that the flowing process of life will always come full circle to a point of dissolution and death.

When we explore the archetypes and discover their power as guardians to the gates in our inner worlds we can open our hearts to revelations, especially at this time of year. The god Pluto, also called Hades, is ruler of the underworld, and he demands a high price if you want to explore his treasure house. What is the price? It is dedication and commitment to the quest. You only get to find the Holy Grail, hidden secretly in a quiet chapel in the mystic forest, if you are obsessively driven to explore your own inner kingdom. You surrender daily concerns in exchange for a pearl of wisdom beyond price. You dive deep and meet the Divine where the darkness encloses your heart. As the mystic George Fox said, this is a journey across an ocean of darkness to discover the ocean of light.

The name Hades is Greek, meaning ‘not-see’. In the myth, Hades is not a dark god, hidden away. This is not why we cannot see him. He has created a mask to conceal his true brilliance, because humankind cannot, as the poet T.S. Eliot said, bear too much reality. Hades’ hidden light reminds us of the story of Moses, who asked to see God ‘face-to-face’. ‘Hide behind the rock and peep through a crevice as I pass by,’ God tells Moses: ‘You cannot see my face, for no one can see me and live.’ (Exodus 33:20)

In the turning cycle of the year we recognise our own mortality. We look Pluto/Hades in the face and realise this god is gatekeeper to a bright world. Pay the coin. Step into the boat. Enjoy the ride down the river. Your ancestors – all the ancestors of the human race – have taken this journey before you. They are a constant presence reminding you: death has no dominion over your Soul.


The reason I write my books, newsletters and blogs, and the reason I teach The Shefa Method, is to take you by the hand, so to speak, and lead you to knowledge of your own Divinity.