Ancestor Work Insight

I’ve been watching this genealogy show for the past couple of hours and thinking hard on some of the knots and tangles in my own ancestral lines, as i watch the people on the show sort through their own. I’m watching these folks visibly rocked as they find out about the poor choices some of their ancestor made, decisions that impacted generations and it occurred to me, so strongly it was like the clang of some great bell reverberating through my soul: sometimes our ancestors made a poor choice to avoid making the worse choice. I suspect we do the same and when we’re looking at and learning about our ancestors and their foibles, and sometimes their terrible sufferings, I think that’s important to remember. We have the benefit of hindsight but I wonder which of our choices our descendants will look back upon thinking “what the hell were you thinking? WHY would you do that?” Like us, I think our ancestors do the best they can with what they had and what they knew. Life is hard. It’s something to remember when we come upon those things with our dead that are so very hard to comprehend or forgive. Sometimes they made a bad choice to avoid making one worse. 


EDIT: A reader contacted me with the concern that what i write here might cause misunderstanding, that it might make people feel they must forgive abusive ancestors or feel guilty for not engaging with them. I fear that is a valid concern so I want to address it here briefly. This is not my intention at all. There ARE those ancestors whom one may well decide — and rightly so–not to honor. This is a personal choice and it may be that this is what will bring the most cleansing and healing to oneself and one’s line. There is no need ever to feel guilty for that or to apologize for that. There are some people who are truly evil, whom one should not, for one’s own health amongst other reasons, honor. I want to be clear that I’m not referring to those ancestors in what I write above in my original post, but to the average jane or joe who screws up, sometimes hurtfully so, but not usually with the intention to harm. That’s a far different thing.

About ganglerisgrove

Galina Krasskova has been a Heathen priest since 1995. She holds a Masters in Religious Studies (2009), a Masters in Medieval Studies (2019), has done extensive graduate work in Classics including teaching Latin, Roman History, and Greek and Roman Literature for the better part of a decade, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology. She is the managing editor of Walking the Worlds journal and has written over thirty books on Heathenry and Polytheism including "A Modern Guide to Heathenry" and "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings about Odin." In addition to her religious work, she is an accomplished artist who has shown all over the world and she currently runs a prayer card project available at

Posted on July 18, 2018, in Ancestor Work, Ancestors, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. thetinfoilhatsociety

    THIS. I’ve literally had a very similar conversation with my now grown sons. “I did some really shitty things. They were were really stupid. I’m sorry. It seemed like the reasonable and only decent thing to do at the time. I was wrong but I didn’t know that until much later.” And as you know I’ve had issues with some of my ancestors. I know, it’s not fair to judge them by modern morality but at the same time it’s hard not to. On the other hand, I wouldn’t be here without them and their stupid decisions. So there we go.

    Liked by 3 people

    • ganglerisgrove

      And we can learn to make better decisions, to be better people by understanding (as best we can) their struggles- the good, the bad, and the ugly.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ve yet to begin working with my ancestors, but I thought of Daniel Foor’s book, Ancestral Medicine, reading this.

    There’s very recent trauma within the last couple of generations of my family and it makes me really hesitant to delve into all of that, but Foor’s process recommends going back further, trying to find the parts of your various family lines where things were last whole or untangled. You don’t ignore recent damage and harm, but you specifically work with the hale members to heal your way back down to yourself, in a sense.

    Ignoring those ancestors who have done things we don’t like doesn’t seem compassionate. We maybe don’t have to get down in what we perceive as the muck of their actions, but just leaving them there might be its own stain.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I also have Daniel Foor’s book Ancestral Medicine. While I haven’t started the rituals in it yet, the book seemed to have gotten a vote from my ancestors through a few synchronicities.

      It could be that we have to be more prepared before we approach those Ancestors with heavier baggage?


      • Or be willing to leave those ancestors to those who know and can do better, I suppose. The other comments here have me a little relieved to see that it’s not such a terrible thing to not deal with those ancestors who have caused serious harm – it requires developing discernment, and it still could be a compassionate act, but it wouldn’t be idiot compassion.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I, too, have done some really ignorant things in my life, yet they were the best I could process life at those times. I think the transformation of forgiveness is very hard, and it takes as many efforts as it takes. I might forgive something today, but it gets triggered again tomorrow, and I have to go through that inner work again. So remembering Sigyn, I strive to face “whatever it takes.” As she told a friend, sometimes we have to hold the bowl for our self.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Very true, Galina. I’ve heard a psychologist say that there is no such thing as a perfect decision. Our Ancestors were only human and tried the best they could at that time.


  5. Hello, no doubt we human beings do have the ability to perpetrate stupid stuff… and that includes my ancestors, family, friends and me, of course. As Schiller said “Against stupidity even the Gods contend in vain”, so who am I to contend here?
    I will always be thankful to my Patron, He Introduced me to lovely and wonderful Ancestors way back in my line, and it is a great honor to have met them. There´s a quote generally atributed to sir Isaac Newton: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” Well, I may not see further, I may nor reach further, but I definitely have some huge giants holding my back. I think we all do. I am thankful.
    Kind regards.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This cultural obsession we have with forgiveness of those who have caused pain and anguish, especially the lauding of it as a great and mighty accomplishment, is nothing but the residual soul-slime of Christianity clinging on in our minds. Yes, sometimes it is healing and purifying to forgive and move on, especially if our ancestors recognize what they did and wish to make things right. But that is not always the case. Sometimes it is more healthy and appropriate to cut ties and completely ignore those ancestors who did significant wrong. And sometimes, it is entirely appropriate to step up, call out what they did and just how horrible it was, then demand they admit they were wrong and that they help us in the arduous process of cleaning up the disaster they caused. The last case is entirely appropriate in the case of those first loathsome people who willingly abandoned their Gods in favor of Christianity.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ganglerisgrove

    Jean-Pierre, i do recommend calling on one’s ancestors, esp .elevated ancestors, healthy ones, to help whenever one is trying to elevate a damaged ancestor, or dealingwith ancestral trauma. it’s a family thing. They can be powerful help.

    sometimes not dealing with it can leave a stain on the line….nothing goes away. there is no away. it’ll impact later generations. But if you are called to deal with damage, you don’t have to do it alone.

    Tunring Tides, yes, I have found before being asked to delve into the really damaged ancestral threads, you do have to be at a particular point, solid in practices, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hello, I agree again… one thing is stupidity (as I quoted Shiller above) another thing is evilness. And I know the difference… my own blood -my father- tried to kill me and my mother some months ago… he is in jail now… surprinsigly many people told me to “forgive” him… My Gods never told me to forgive him, never pushed me in that direction. They are guiding me forwards and through difficult times, and, yes, They Showed me good and honorable ancestors back in my line. That experience was very healing for me. Kind Regards, V.

    Liked by 1 person

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