I recently made an Ancestress Altar.
It was suggested to me by my coach, Anne Davin, as a way to honour a woman in my ancestral line that personified the qualities of a heroine (a theme I’m playing with a lot these days).
I choose my paternal grandmother, Bridget.
The instructions were to place my grandma’s image, along with anything else that felt symbolic of her, on the altar and to beautify the space with flowers or candles or a little something lovely.
Then to ask myself these questions:
“What legacy did she leave you—emotional strength, foresight, imagination, humor? How can this quality guide and inform your living now? What echo or message is she sending to you through time and space that can carry you into the future?” (Anne Davin)
And then to take it one step further by taking an action symbolizing one of the qualities in her, that I want to bring more fully into my own life.
There are many.
Bridget could weave a tale that would have you laughing one minute, crying the next, and praying it wouldn’t end the entire time—of course she was Irish and had inherited the storytelling gift—and the twinkle in the eye that goes with it. She also had a massively courageous heart and independent spirit (for a woman born in 1914 that didn’t always make for smooth sailing). Bridget was a woman out of time, zigging when everyone else was zagging. She simply didn’t know how not to be herself—even though many thought she was a little off her rocker.
She was larger than life and always ALL IN—so when it came to choosing an action to symbolize the qualities in her, that I want to more fully embody, I knew it had to be something significant.
There’s a writer’s retreat in Ireland that had been calling my name for months but I kept putting it on the back burner. I know part of it was resistance—I can practically feel the magic that is waiting for me (and my memoir) there (a good portion of the story happens in Ireland). But the book is also laced with themes like learning to know and accept yourself, excavating your vulnerability and speaking your truth—which means shit is going to get real, real fast, once this puppy starts to get some traction—and to be honest that freaks me out—a lot.
But I said yes anyway. Yes to the call, yes to the perpetual pull, yes to honouring the courageous and somewhat crazy (or at the very least incredibly quirky) woman who lived so many of these themes in her own life, by booking the trip.
Can you guess what happened as soon as I decided to commit? Yup—the universe moved with me—as it so often does when we take the first step and move in the direction of our dreams. #trustsurrenderleap #trustinsynchronicity
Here’s how it went this time:
I checked my inbox and found an email waiting for me from the woman who runs the retreat centre in Ireland. She was writing to let me know she had finalized the schedule of formalized events for next year and there was still an opening for the dates I had inquired about (months ago).
Between the time I sent her an email back to confirm and the time she responded three people bought my Create Authentically Brilliant Videos course for an amount almost exactly equal to the deposit due to secure the booking.
When I checked into flights to Cork I found a fantastic round trip through Amsterdam. It worked perfectly with my dates, was on an airline I love and the cost just so happened to be within dollars of the travel rewards amount I had accumulated on my credit card.
Finally (well at least for now—cause you know, synchronicity), as I was putting the final touches on my Ancestress Altar I decided to pull a goddess card from my deck. As I shuffled I asked, “which goddess is with me now”, the words were barely past my lips when one of the cards leapt from the deck and landed face down on the carpet. Here’s what I found when I turned it over…
Not only was Bridget my grandma’s name, but Brigit is a Celtic goddess and much beloved in Ireland—so much so that the the Church had to make her a saint when they were converting the poor heathens to Christianity, the people just couldn’t let her go. She is also one of the two main goddesses I had magical encounters with in Ireland—but for that story you’ll have to wait for the book. ;-)
Here’s the altar itself…
You can see Bridget’s picture in the middle, the stone on the right comes from the cottage where she grew up near Galway Bay and the Irish passport on the left is mine—another gift she gave me—the ability to claim my Celtic roots and obtain Irish citizenship through her line.
I miss you grandma and love you beyond words (FYI I made a typo writing the word “word” just now—it originally came out “worlds”. That too.).
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