The Jewelry Box
My daughter just reached the age where she wants to do my makeup and look in my jewelry box. I blame her recent Venus return. As we go through my small collection of rings, bracelets, and necklaces, the conversation is like this:
“Here’s a ring that was your Grandmother’s. She designed it herself.”
“Pretty. Can I have it after you die?”
“This was your Great-Great-Great Grandmother’s Wedding Ring.”
“Is it real gold?”
“Can I have it after you die?”
“No, that one goes to your brother. See the engraving inside the band. He was born on the day she was married, 120 years later.”
“What about your engagement ring?” She asks.
We go through the items, she picks out the stuff she wants after I die, and then runs off to play video games. As I put everything back, I think of these objects, remember similar conversations with my mother and grandmother, and wonder who else will be the keeper of these things when I’m long gone.
Half-Baked Theories of Time
My concept of Time has evolved in recent years. When I was a child, my mother taught me about Karma and cause and effect. “What goes around, comes around” was one of her favorite sayings. My thinking about Time was linear and very tit for tat. The Past was set and unchanging, the Present was the only moment that “existed”, and the Future – a fog of possibilities ever on the horizon.
As I got older, I encountered a theory of Time in Physics that used a loaf of bread as a metaphor. The loaf exists in its entirety, but we can only perceive the little slice we’re momentarily in. It might be possible to send information (or one day even travel) backwards and forwards, but the loaf of bread is already baked.
That theory got me part of the way there, but was unsatisfying when thinking about magic and selecting the best possible future for oneself.
Currently, my concept of Time is that it is something that we experience only when our Spirit is incarnate, and we stand at the crossroads of Time and Matter. The parts of us that are Matter flow through Time when we’re incarnate, but otherwise we’re outside of it. The Past and Future exist simultaneously with the Present, and we can get outside of both Time and Matter (somewhat) in our dreams, imagination, and journeying through Spirit/Imaginal/Otherworlds/etc.
Of course, questions that put fate and predestination in opposition to free will and magic always come up when thinking about time. But, I’ve gotten comfortable with holding paradoxes, and assume that any theory of time, matter, spirit, and existence is going to be wrong anyway.
As I get back to cleaning up the jewelry box, it’s got me thinking lately…
Am I being a good Ancestor?
Ancestral practices have existed in many cultures for millennia. Respectful engagement with ones’ Ancestors and Dead is widely assumed to be beneficial and even part of the responsibility of the Living.
A good Descendant takes care of their Ancestors and keeps their memory and traditions alive. They’ll pray for their Ancestors and aid in their healing and elevation in Spirit which in turn makes it possible for the Ancestors to help the living.
Ancestors aren’t limited to blood ancestry either. There are Ancestors of place, profession, art, faith, name, friendship, and others that can be contacted to both honor and ask for help.
If Past, Present, and Future all exist simultaneously, how do I aid my unborn Descendants right now? How do I work to secure the best possible future for them? And not just in a “don’t kill the environment” kind of way. What practices can I develop that will help the future be better for them and improve their lives?
I’m inclined to believe that helping the Descendants directly happens primarily when one is fully in Spirit and not incarnated. Incarnation (Spirit interacting with Time and Matter) seems like a full-time job, doesn’t it? After one retires from life and takes up residence full time in the Imaginal seems like the right time to look for the ones lighting candles for you.
For me, most of the caretaking of the future line is in the material right now. Making sure that the “family treasures”, the jewelry and keepsakes, get passed down along with the stories that go with them is part of that. Having a Will or at least writing down some clear instructions is key to make sure that the process goes smoothly. Keeping the good stuff, “good” ie. in good repair and tossing the crap is also a large part of this effort. Do my kids really want the faded and torn drawing of the tree that I did in Kindergarten?
Building good habits and thoughtfully setting up and evolving quality processes are another way to aid the future. It’s amazing how many things just get passed on unthinkingly. When I was working in television, there was a tape room with tape decks that were numbered strangely. No one could figure out why, until one of the people that had worked there years ago explained that in the old building the decks were set up that way. When the room was moved into the new building, no one wanted to learn a new numbering system, so that’s why they were like that. I don’t think that the old building exists anymore, or even the tape decks, but I’ll bet that they digital channels they use now for video playback are numbered the same confusing way.
Sometimes looking after the Descendants is as simple as having some now and later thinking. When we got our back gate fixed, they needed to pull up some bricks at the threshold to reset it. Since they were pulling up the bricks anyway, we took the opportunity to run some wiring underground for future capacity in our garage. This is something that might benefit us now and anyone who lives here after us later.
Overall, I tend to tread lightly with the Descendants. There’s still a fuzzy, unset quality to the Future that I want to preserve. So far, I’ve limited my non-material Descendant practice to praying for them. After I pray for the healing and elevation of my Ancestors, I pray for my Descendants. I pray that they are healthy and prosperous. That they have good luck, good timing, great judgement, and strong intuition. I pray that they are surrounded and supported by loving family and friends. I pray that they have kind, generous hearts, and much joy in their lives.
Right now that seems to be enough.