When it comes to working with ancestors, I've enjoyed some progress over time. My maternal grandfather, who died long before I was born, has been willing to establish a connection. This fits in with what little I have heard of him: I gather that he was a very kind and supportive person in life.
You can also go much further back, to people who worshiped the same God(s) you do. You may or may not be biologically related. This can be a very powerful connection.
It is also worthwhile to learn what you can about your family history. I was pleasantly surprised when, right before starting law school, I found out that a great-uncle had actually been a title attorney (and an honest one at that). I also learned that this side was from Germany (Prussia) originally. I was able to find out more, mostly through photographs left from my grandmother, conversations with my father, and through research at the library, which has a free genealogy service. Apparently, some of them came to the U.S. from the Hanover region back in the mid-1800's, when things were in turmoil. One relative was from Alsace: the story goes that he moved to the U.S. to avoid the growing German influence in the area. He then ended up marrying a German. So much for making plans.
According to the census records, quite a few people on that side grew up speaking German. Here are some pictures:
|The strong-looking lady in the white blouse is one of my great-grandmothers.|
I also have a photo from the Civil War. It is on glass plate, and I keep it in a wooden box so the surface does not get damaged:
|Joseph Levin Boerstler|
|The Honorable Benjamin Chew|
I'll finish up here by noting that I don't feel as "tuned in" to ancestor work as I do to, say, interacting with my Gods and Goddesses. Truth be told, I think that some people simply "resonate" more with the departed, regardless of whether those departed are their own. It seems to me that we all have different gifts and that we should not beat ourselves up or beat another person up for not connecting so strongly with their ancestors. I would like to emphasize that this post is the result of years of research and that I did get extremely lucky with the material that was available to me. Let us honor what we have, whatever that may be.