Witchcraft is: Finding Queer Ancestors
Photo Credit: O.Lee
For many of us in the LGBTQ+ community, connection to our bio or first families can be challenging. That complicates the practice of exploring our lineages and developing a spiritual connection to our ancestors. Maybe we weren't able to share or build relationships with grandparents in ways that brought our full selves into the fold. Maybe we’re still healing in this realm of connection, and it’s not a place where we are ready or have a desire to develop. And yet, building a connection to ancestors is a powerful way to move around stagnant energy, ask for guidance, and to stir up magic when we need it. Building a connection to ancestors is a powerful way to move around stagnant energy, ask for guidance, and to stir up magic when we need it. As a queer witch, I bring a practice of honoring my ancestors into my routine spell and energy work. I connect to my ancestors as spirit guides, and I often turn to them for support and reassurance. In fact, they helped me to determine the focus for this piece. Growing up, my father had a picture of my grandfather, Mui Chi Yin, on an altar in our kitchen. It’s a common practice for Chinese families, and something that my family in Malaysia, where my father was born, do on a much grander scale than in our home in Massachusetts. Regardless, this practice was my first introduction to honoring ancestors. My father always taught me to just talk to his father. While we honor him with offerings and incense, we don’t need to go to a special place or recite a special prayer to connect. The veil between the spirit and living worlds is thinner in Chinese culture, and I’ve always appreciated that as a witch. As queer and trans people, we are part of a lineage of incredible activists, healers, teachers, and magic-makers with a history as long as humanity itself. Many folks in the queer community understand the value of building chosen family, either in place or in addition to first/bio families. We need connection beyond acquaintances. With my ever-evolving chosen family, I celebrate holidays, take vacations, and show up in celebration and through hard times. In similar fashion, I’ve also seen the importance of developing a connection with chosen ancestors. As queer and trans people, we are part of a lineage of incredible activists, healers, teachers, and magic-makers with a history as long as humanity itself. There is no limit to the healing that can come when we put effort into cultivating relationships with our chosen ancestors. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that sometimes our chosen ancestors are part of our bio family or lineage. Don’t forget that the constraints of hetero and cis-normativity are relatively young to the stretch of our species. You may have ancestors who were queer and trans but not out, or have supportive ancestors whose societies didn’t serve under homophobic or transphobic, sex and kink-phobic, or monoganormative rules. Here are some considerations for your practice with Chosen Ancestors:
Next time you are in a place for manifesting or building, hold this request for chosen ancestors in your intentions. Call in and invite ancestors to your consciousness. Hold openness for their guidance.
Do your research. Look into LGBTQ+ people throughout different time periods and cultures. Learn more about queer and trans folks who share identities or cultures with you. Read their words, learn about their actions, and stay open to their guidance. Trust your intuition. If something strikes you as especially meaningful, it could be a message from an ancestor.
Once you have an ancestor connection, you can look deeper into their words or actions to find messages for you, especially in challenging times.
Create an altar for your ancestors. We are powerful beings who can create sacred spaces with our intention and energy. If you want to develop a relationship with your ancestors, one way to begin is to share some space in your home for this work.
Altars aren’t just what we put on them. As an intentionally curated space in our homes, they concentrate our energy. This builds a signal to our ancestors to connect with us.
If you pull tarot cards, invite in a spread or an extra card with guidance from your ancestors. This can be a great way to begin or strengthen a connection.
However you engage in this practice, hold some openness and have some fun along the way. Whatever you do, don’t shy away or hide yourself in this process. Remember, your true ancestors delight when you are living fully in your truth. Bex Mui, she/her, Author of House Of Our Queer: Healing, Reclaiming, and Reframing Your Spiritual Practice.
Looking to spread your support? Consider donating: Sage: Advocacy & Services for LGBTQ+ Elders or the Shelterwood Collective, an Indigenous, Black and Queer-led community of land protectors and cultural changemakers.
Bex Mui, M Ed., is a biracial Chinese/Polish, first gen queer witch and spiritual organizer committed to the work of LGBTQ+ affirmation. Bex founded House Of Our Queer, a QTPOC-centered spiritual playspace, and is a certified energy healer. HouseOfOurQueer.com