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Author Topic: Honoring my ancestors (Blockage)  (Read 1323 times)

unveiledartist

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Honoring my ancestors (Blockage)
« on: February 15, 2016, 07:28:28 pm »
All my ancestors that I know are Christian. Our foundation of our family are based on Christian values. Surprisingly, my immediate family (my parents) told us "we dont want to teach our children fairy tales".  Of course, we went alone with the show on Thanksgiving and Christmas. This was almost twenty years ago.

Years ago, instead, my mother practiced witchcraft. My grandmother had superstitions that prompt such. Our military family was pretty much a gyspy of beliefs (hence my name). This doesnt help with honoring my family members.

I dont identify as Christian, of course. I dont as a pagan because I realized that (many pagans not all) believe in god/s and other things I am not pulled to (Im not polytheist)

In other words, Im not a Pagan.

I base my religion or my lifestyle on folk and neo religious practices. I live with the earth and give reverence to it. Im ust me.

:( But that is not how my ancestors would like to view me.

I will spare the details of how they view pagans. I would like to honor my ancestors but I find it too inappropriate to say pagan prayers with their pictures on my altar. Lighting candles seem to be a universal method. However, our denomination doesnt take to kind a look on candles. I dont know about my ancestors just really going off my outside family and the denomini they are affiliated with.  

The best way to seriously honor and pay respect to my ancestors and to my recentl deceased grandmothers is to say christian prayers and speak from the Bible.

I know its not all about me; and, this makes me uncomfortable

:ashamed Where do I find the balance between how to honor my ancestors without belitting my beliefs in the process

and/or

how would I do so respectfully?

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Re: Honoring my ancestors (Blockage)
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2016, 08:22:45 pm »
Quote from: ReligiousGypsy;186674

I dont identify as Christian, of course. I dont as a pagan because I realized that (many pagans not all) believe in god/s and other things I am not pulled to (Im not polytheist)


First, there are plenty of Pagans who aren't polytheists! Some are pantheists, some are animists, some are agnostics, some are atheists. 'Pagan' covers a broad range of paths and options out there (if you read around the forum a bit more, or try searches on those terms, you might find some things that might be helpful, given the rest of your post.)

Quote

The best way to seriously honor and pay respect to my ancestors and to my recentl deceased grandmothers is to say christian prayers and speak from the Bible.


The way I see it, you have several other possible options, all of which are consistent with a number of different Pagan approaches to honouring the dead, and all of which are also fairly respectful of the beliefs of the people being honoured.

(They don't work if they happen to belong to a denomination that thinks any honouring of the dead is inappropriate. I can't tell if that's the case for you.)

1) A space where you remember, but don't pray.
It's common in a number of Pagan paths to have a space to honour the beloved dead - this is, technically, a shrine, not an altar, usually. It doesn't need to be a space at which explicit prayers of any kind take place (though for people who feel it's appropriate, that's certainly possible.)

Normally, it has a collection of items of all of the people who you want to remember (photos, things like funeral programs, small items they made or particularly valued - if you have jewelry they loved, for example). And because it's usually of all the beloved dead, no single prayer or method of remembering them is likely to work for everyone represented. (Many people also include pets.)

Generally, what one does is set it up somewhere you'll see daily (or more often), but that is not going to be used casually as a table. You then spend a few minutes with it as often as you decide is appropriate (could be daily, could be weekly, could be some other cycle) and remember them. Doesn't need to involve a prayer at all.

2) Prayers that are acceptable to them, and feasible for you.
Are there any prayers or Bible texts that would be meaningful to them, and also acceptable to you? If so, that might be a solution. You don't need to have every option out there: you just need to find a couple that you'd feel you could offer. The Bible's an awfully big set of books, really, and there's a lot of it that people who are not Christian can find meaningful and worthwhile.

For example, I am no longer Catholic, but when I happen to be in a Catholic church with prayer candles, I light one for my father. It's actually a religious act he found a little silly when he was alive, but as a moment to touch base with him, give a small donation, and remember him, it works just fine.

3) Other methods of honouring their memory or supporting things they cared about.

Did your grandmothers (or other beloved dead) have things they really cared about? Volunteer groups they were active in? Even church functions? Are there ways you could continue to offer some amount of time, money, or energy to any of those? Again, it doesn't have to be every possible thing - you can pick the option(s) that best suit your life and your values.

For example, you mention that you're from a military family: did your grandmothers have family who served? (Or did they do so themselves in some capacity?) There's tons of veterans related projects you could help with, I'm sure.

Similarly, things like seeing about a donation of funds for books to your local library for a topic they loved (donating books themselves is more complicated: I'm a librarian, and am glad to explain why). Or, alternately, some libraries allow people to adopt a shelf and help keep it in order, and you could do that for shelves in topics they liked.

These don't need to be an all the time thing - but often having one or two things a year that you know you'll do can be a way to structure other ways to remember them. A lot of organizations have one or two big events a year, or smaller ongoing ways to help out.

Finally, and on a different topic, but I'm mentioning it because you bring up the question of respect, you might want to be aware that the word 'gypsy' is one where many people feel that using it is disrespectful to a group of people who have been and continue to be badly mistreated by others. The forum's inclusivity FAQ has a bit more info.. It's possible to change your username on the forum if you decide you'd like to.)
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unveiledartist

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Re: Honoring my ancestors (Blockage)
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2016, 08:43:52 pm »
Wow. Thank you. I have to read over this again. I like your advice. I have to altars (well one small) and my main one set up. My religious focus or main tenant of my faith is devotion to ancestors; so, it gets kinda tricky when you your religion is your ancestors. However, I wasnt raised Catholic but became catholic four years ago and droped two years ago. I go there to take the Eucharist for my family. Those candles are expensive, though.Go up each year. I help through the church. My family arent to keen about Catholicism but that sthe only Christian denomination I was pulled to at the time.

Anyhow. I read this interesting article: http://ancestralmedicine.org/five-ways-to-honor-your-ancestors/ Sometimes I just forget because Im pretty much everywhere with beliefs. Im not a one-religion person, I found out.

I will do that, though. I havent looked through the Bible in so long. I used the King James Verson for my grandmothers. Psalms would probably be good since its short and simple.

Quote from: Jenett;186676
First, there are plenty of Pagans who aren't polytheists! Some are pantheists, some are animists, some are agnostics, some are atheists. 'Pagan' covers a broad range of paths and options out there (if you read around the forum a bit more, or try searches on those terms, you might find some things that might be helpful, given the rest of your post.)



The way I see it, you have several other possible options, all of which are consistent with a number of different Pagan approaches to honouring the dead, and all of which are also fairly respectful of the beliefs of the people being honoured.

(They don't work if they happen to belong to a denomination that thinks any honouring of the dead is inappropriate. I can't tell if that's the case for you.)

1) A space where you remember, but don't pray.
It's common in a number of Pagan paths to have a space to honour the beloved dead - this is, technically, a shrine, not an altar, usually. It doesn't need to be a space at which explicit prayers of any kind take place (though for people who feel it's appropriate, that's certainly possible.)

Normally, it has a collection of items of all of the people who you want to remember (photos, things like funeral programs, small items they made or particularly valued - if you have jewelry they loved, for example). And because it's usually of all the beloved dead, no single prayer or method of remembering them is likely to work for everyone represented. (Many people also include pets.)

Generally, what one does is set it up somewhere you'll see daily (or more often), but that is not going to be used casually as a table. You then spend a few minutes with it as often as you decide is appropriate (could be daily, could be weekly, could be some other cycle) and remember them. Doesn't need to involve a prayer at all.

2) Prayers that are acceptable to them, and feasible for you.
Are there any prayers or Bible texts that would be meaningful to them, and also acceptable to you? If so, that might be a solution. You don't need to have every option out there: you just need to find a couple that you'd feel you could offer. The Bible's an awfully big set of books, really, and there's a lot of it that people who are not Christian can find meaningful and worthwhile.

For example, I am no longer Catholic, but when I happen to be in a Catholic church with prayer candles, I light one for my father. It's actually a religious act he found a little silly when he was alive, but as a moment to touch base with him, give a small donation, and remember him, it works just fine.

3) Other methods of honouring their memory or supporting things they cared about.

Did your grandmothers (or other beloved dead) have things they really cared about? Volunteer groups they were active in? Even church functions? Are there ways you could continue to offer some amount of time, money, or energy to any of those? Again, it doesn't have to be every possible thing - you can pick the option(s) that best suit your life and your values.

For example, you mention that you're from a military family: did your grandmothers have family who served? (Or did they do so themselves in some capacity?) There's tons of veterans related projects you could help with, I'm sure.

Similarly, things like seeing about a donation of funds for books to your local library for a topic they loved (donating books themselves is more complicated: I'm a librarian, and am glad to explain why). Or, alternately, some libraries allow people to adopt a shelf and help keep it in order, and you could do that for shelves in topics they liked.

These don't need to be an all the time thing - but often having one or two things a year that you know you'll do can be a way to structure other ways to remember them. A lot of organizations have one or two big events a year, or smaller ongoing ways to help out.

Finally, and on a different topic, but I'm mentioning it because you bring up the question of respect, you might want to be aware that the word 'gypsy' is one where many people feel that using it is disrespectful to a group of people who have been and continue to be badly mistreated by others. The forum's inclusivity FAQ has a bit more info.. It's possible to change your username on the forum if you decide you'd like to.)

 
I wanted to say more and think this is a good topic in general for people coming from christian backgrounds.

Thanks!

Gypsy Rose Lee ;)

Faemon

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Re: Honoring my ancestors (Blockage)
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2016, 11:29:09 pm »
Quote from: ReligiousGypsy;186674
I base my religion or my lifestyle on folk and neo religious practices. I live with the earth and give reverence to it. Im ust me.

:( But that is not how my ancestors would like to view me.


I'm curious how you know they view you in that way, and why you yield to it? It's just that to my mind, unlike your ancestors, you're not dead. Even if they weren't dead either, you should still be able to do with your life and individuality what you want. If my folks bothered me in dreams or meditations or with signs about what I was supposed to wear, or when I was going to give them great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren already...I'd cut them out of my life so fast and just, like, thanks for the good teeth and no nut or shellfish allergies I'll just keep all that. Some harsh natural processes already cut most of them out of life in general. You're really doing them a favor by remembering them well enough to honor; if they don't like that it's couched in terms of their relationship to the earth, then they're entitled to that dislike, but there's not much they can do. Maybe it's not all about you, but it's not on them to enact living traditions, that's on you and...might as well let yourself be comfortable with it and do what's comfortable, because it's your life and time and materials you're using to do it.

As far back as you can trace, your ancestors have been Christian. From a historical perspective Christianity began just a few millennia ago, though, and those early Christians didn't spring from the ground like Uruk-hai; they had their minds and lives change from some other mode of practice and belief. Would those first Christians in your line have been guilty of dishonoring their ancestors, then?
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unveiledartist

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Re: Honoring my ancestors (Blockage)
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2016, 12:20:32 am »
Quote from: Faemon;186704
I'm curious how you know they view you in that way, and why you yield to it? It's just that to my mind, unlike your ancestors, you're not dead. Even if they weren't dead either, you should still be able to do with your life and individuality what you want. If my folks bothered me in dreams or meditations or with signs about what I was supposed to wear, or when I was going to give them great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren already...I'd cut them out of my life so fast and just, like, thanks for the good teeth and no nut or shellfish allergies I'll just keep all that. Some harsh natural processes already cut most of them out of life in general.....

 
My family is a part of me and I them. We do not believe in the deceased. We know spirits exist and we know our family members are were they are at rest or they are yet to rest (where they passed away). My family knows this just as I know I am typing on this computer. Its special to us; but in general, its nothing special.

A family is a unit. If I had a blue shirt on and my sister a pink shirt, there'd be some smirks or conversation about likes and dislikes but thats it. If she were a evangalistic christian and I a pagan, it goes on a deeper level that shirts. However, I would not cut her off just because we see reality and our relationship with each other differently based on our realities. We know even if we were raised on another planet, we will always have that one thing that connects us: blood. Not religion. Not cotton or silk. Not skin color. Blood.

Thats very important to us.

It does not end at physical death no more than Christ physical death ending his spiritual existence. Life doesnt work that way. So, if my mother wants chocolate for her birthday and I like vanilla, I would give her what She wants not what I want.

Likewise with my grandmothers (both passed away), I know they were Christian. I wouldnt say a pagan prayer to them because that is not their faith. Its an insult to them. Likewise with my ancestors. Many of whom are Christian. I dont know when the evangalistic style christianity started, but even then as we are minorities, our views on christianity was survival not belief. It was the blood that held us together not a political power to take lives of people who dont agree with them. It was our life.

If I gave something specifically pagan to my ancestor (pretending he or she is alive) knowing full well that what I give will not just insult her religion but her as a person and her connection to me as family, I would be heart broken. I would know that there is a disconnection between what I offered and what they received.

Thats like giving a KKK doll to my family or something knowing full well the history of where my family lives now and the history they told us since what 1900 century. I wish I could go back and still see the cotton feilds in SC. A lot of rich history.

So, there are ways to give offerings. I just dont want to insult my family in doing so.

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