A Spirit Dilemma, Part II

Back in September, I wrote about my troubles forming relationships with my ancestors. I’d also promised to follow up once I’d returned from my trip to Philadelphia for the consultation with Ariadna. Unfortunately, a combination of factors prevented me from updating this blog. Not only was my schedule at the end of 2016 quite hectic, but I also felt compelled to put off writing and sharing the conclusion of this journey until I had set up a proper ancestor shrine. To do that, I needed wooden representations for what have become two very important figures in my practice. I’ve finally found and purchased those items, so it’s time, at last, to write.

Ariadna’s house is narrow and richly decorated with religious iconography. A statue of the Virgin Mary gazes with serene smile and open palms upon us as I sit on the floor across from my host. I’d brought a bottle of Apothic Red wine as a tribute to the espiritista, for one should never seek the services of a seer or witch without providing sufficient payment. She took a sip, then another, of the offering. On the table between us sat a lit candle and a full glass of water. Ariadna sat on her sofa with a notebook in her lap, pencil in hand.

She closed her eyes and fell into trance. The rest of us waited in silence: myself, Ariadna’s wife, and our mutual friend Brooke. For the sake of privacy, I won’t go into detail about what exactly transpired, but I will share the message that Ariadna relayed when she finished.

In particular, two ancestral spirits answered Ariadna’s call. One is Jorge, an older man from the mid-20th century who prepares and distributes little white candles wrapped in white ribbon. He remarked that “it’s important to be the person who provides the light.” The other spirit is Margarita, a little girl from the early 20th century, whose desire for love and attention manifests as pain. Ariadna also mentioned many, many other spirits in agony, their identities too indistinct for her to know.

Interestingly, a man and a girl have appeared to me before during my attempts at reaching out to my ancestors. They had worn more traditional Philippine garb and bore traditional tattoos, but my gut tells me they are the same spirits as Jorge and Margarita. The pain of the nameless masses makes sense to me as well. After all, colonists first arrived at the Philippines in 1521, and the country of my ancestors did not gain its independence from other countries until 1946. Centuries of colonialism have caused untold generations of agony and sorrow. As for the rest of the symbolism–especially those candles–none of us were sure of their meaning. I understand that’s something I may have to discover for myself, on my own.

I left the meeting with clarity and determination. I knew with certainty that I would be able to bridge the gap expressed in my previous post–that cultural, historical, geographical gap–through meeting with Jorge and Margarita again in meditations. More regularly, I can light little candles wrapped in white ribbon, pour offerings of fresh water, and decorate the ancestor shrine with silk flowers.

Can. Should.

November ended. December came and passed. Now it’s January and I’ve only just purchased two wooden dolls to represent the spirits of my ancestors. Sure, I have the fake crocodile skull, and of course I have the photo of my great-grandfather. But Jorge and Margarita showed me how to properly honor them and all of my countless, nameless kin, and my gut tells me my practice needs those statues. Only once they have a place on my shrine and have been dedicated to my ancestors will I begin to forge that connection, to bridge that gap.

I anticipate I’ll be writing yet another chapter of this story in a few months’ time, after I’ve had time to meditate and make offerings. Stay tuned.

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Wooden, unpainted kokeshi dolls. I bought two of them from iUsedToBeATree on etsy to represent Margarita and Jorge.

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