Monday, 23 August 2010

Ask the Ancestors


My partner came to me with a very interesting request on the weekend. Those of you familiar with Seffrican culture will be aware of the problem of animal sacrifice amongst much of the Black population, and those who are not - well, in a nutshell, it's said (although not by me) that the Ancestors require the live slaughter of an animal, be it chicken, goat or bull, and that the animal's cries of pain must be as loud as possible.
To this end, the sacrifice is tethered and poked with sticks and spears, taunted and frightened, for a good while before it is finally killed, that its cries of distress may reach to the netherworld, and the Ancestors.

One of our neighbouring families is in the habit of slaughtering fairly frequently - for every birth, marriage or death in the family it seems - and one of our other neighbours, a young mother of three children, is so distressed by all this killing and bellowing going on right next door that she asked my partner if he would have a word with me, that I might see my way to 'doing something' about it.

It's no secret in this suburban enclave that I practice various Pagan and esoteric rites and that on various nights the neighbourhood can smell the handmade incense smoldering on the coals, or see the great broadsword being brandished in the moonlight. It's common knowledge the I'm a Witch, in other words - and as always seems to happen, people think that a Witch can often accomplish things that they can not.

This is not strictly true of course -it would be closer to say that a Witch often sets out to accomplish what other people don't want to do. In any case, I'm often asked for petit acts of magic on behalf of others, which I gladly undertake if I can see no harm in it.

Well, I had to give this request some considerable thought. It's treading on the ground of the Shaman after all, and I felt I couldn't just go ahead and do something, I had to sit with my own Ancestors first.

So I sat, that night, and put the question: is this practise truly one required by the Ancestors? I'm having to route the question through my Scots and Welsh 2nd-degree forebears, so that they may fling it down the corridors of the otherworld, passing from one to another Ancestor, to try to get to the root of it, and maybe get an answer.

That night, the echoes came rumbling back from the cthonic realms to enter my sleep as a frightful nightmare: a tall Black man, a person of much authority, was striking me over and over, most painfully, while everyone protested. Eventually, arbitration was called for, and the man was restrained. But he wouldn't allow me to put my case - he tried talking over me until I grew angry myself, and berated him. Whereupon the 'law' removed him to a distance from the rest of us, and we watched as the Black man ate great piles of files and folders, before flinging himself into a huge turning fan. We were covered in gore, all of us watching. Gobbets of red and green flesh flew through the air and thudded down around us as the man was chopped into little pieces.

The exact interpretation of this dream can be left as an exercise for the reader - but I have one thought for you: do you not think that, just as humankind has been evolving spiritually all these millennia, that the realm of the Ancestors may have been, too?