I have a question about ancestors that’s been troubling me. I keep reading about how to honor/invoke/work with ancestors, but if Pagans believe in reincarnation, won’t our ancestors’ spirits already be somewhere else in their new life/lives and be unavailable to us? In essence, they won’t really be our ancestors anymore, they’ll be new so-and-so. All Pagans I know of believe in reincarnation, so where is this place that our ancestors are hiding, waiting for us to honor/invoke/work with them before they can move on to their next life? Do you see my conundrum? Thanks for any insight here.
First, it’s important to note that not all Pagans believe in reincarnation. The term “pagan” encompasses a very broad range of religions and spiritual paths and about the only thing all of them have in common is that they are non-Abrahamic (meaning not Christian, Islamic or Jewish). Also, there is a difference between working with ancestors and honoring them. Even if one believes in reincarnation, one can still honor one’s ancestors, without their spirits needing to be physically present.
However, in terms of invoking and working directly with our ancestors, that is not necessarily an issue even within religions that believe in reincarnation. There is nothing that says we die and are instantly reincarnated, and many Pagan religions have afterlife realms where our loved ones go to await their rebirth. Keep in mind too, that time and distance tend to function differently within sacred spaces, and not everything is always linear. So assuming one’s ancestor has already reincarnated, it’s still not impossible for us to connect with that energy during ritual. Even if, in some cases, we have to reach back through time to a point before they were reborn.
Another small personal thought on this (my own two cents for what it’s worth)… that energy never goes away and even though a person normally isn’t conscious of their previous life, that spirit is still a part of them (it’s why you can sometimes remember those memories via regression work). So it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that we could be accessing our ancestor’s spirits more directly, even after rebirth (and without their new life being aware of it).