In Traditional Witchcraft, we work with spirits. Spirits of the Dark Lord, or Witch King, the spirits of the land, and the spirits of the Dead, or The Ancestors. In many forms of modern Traditional Witchcraft, the ancestors comprise, not only those dead people whose blood runs through our veins, whose DNA we carry, but also those great and powerful Witch ancestors. Those Witches, Warlocks, Healers, Diviners, Mages, and even simply those accused of and executed for Witchcraft in the past. As we enter the Halloween season, that time when the veil between our world, and the veil between the spirit worlds is lifted I would like to share some modern Traditional Witchcraft lore on the ancestors followed by my experiences learning of my own Witch Ancestor.
In the Blacktree Tradition of Witchcraft we follow the example of Homer in his Odyssey when classifying the Phantom Nations of the Dead: The Mighty Dead are those who lived extraordinary lives that benefited humanity. The Beloved Dead are those family and loved ones who have passed on. The Honored Dead are those whose sacrifice and service in life elevate them to a place of honor among the living. “What is remembered lives.” The Forgotten Dead are those whose names and deeds have been lost to the mists of time. The Dishonored Dead are those who lived a life of treachery and caused pain and sorrow to the living. The Untimely Dead are those whose life was cut short by tragedy. The Nameless Dead are those who died without a name or family to remember them. In addition to these classifications, in the Blacktree Tradition we recognize The Hidden Company as part of the Phantom Nations of the Dead. A concept borrowed from the Clan of Tubal Cain, The Hidden Company are the spirits of Witchcraft itself. They are the shades and shapes creeping around the edges of the Circle. They are attracted by the activity on the spirit plane that takes place during ritual.
As I embark on this journey along the Crooked Path, it has become increasingly important to connect with my ancestors. The dead people whose blood, and DNA I carry, who came before me and forged the path for me to walk today. Now as an American I, like many others born here have tales of a Native American Grandmother, usually Cherokee. I have heard all my life of a great great grandmother who was half Native American, and a great healer. Now I must say that so many white people in this country claim Native ancestry, that I have always taken this with a “yeah right” kind of attitude, even towards claims in my own family. As I mentioned in my first blog post, I had been interested in Witchcraft for my entire life, and for the entirety of that time I have felt so alone, and just plain different compared to the rest of my family.
On a recent full moon I went into the woods and created sacred space with the Crossroads Rite and stood facing the west and my Ancestor Altar and said “ My name is Timothy Brant Williams, son of Randie LaVerne Randolph, and Timothy Philip Williams! I call on my ancestors, those Dead People whose blood runs through my veins, whose DNA I carry to join me in this circle tonight and make themselves known to me!” I followed with offerings of incense, bread and beer, and maybe a little weed and tobacco. I made my offerings to the spirits of the land, and the Dark Lord, gathered my things, and closed my circle.
I had owed a call to my cousin, so when I was finished with my Rite I returned to my tent, put on my headphones, and called her on Messenger. She immediately begins to spout off this info about my great great grandmother! Her mother (my 96 year old great aunt) starts to chime in and my cousin goes to speaker mode so I can hear them both. My great aunt tells me that my great great (or maybe great great great) grandmother was part Native American, and part Polish. She married a man of German descent by the name of Michael Waltz. Her name was MARY ESTHER WALTZ. Back in those days interracial marriage was frowned upon. So much so that Mary had to live outside of town in a small house all by herself. Her husband had to live and work in town, and could only visit sparingly. It breaks my heart to think of someone having to live like that, so isolated, and alone. My great aunt told me she went to visit Mary when she was young for a week. She told me Mary never left the house ever, and never spoke English ever. My great aunt said that even though she was shunned by and lived away from the rest of the townsfolk, Mary would still use her gifts to heal them if they needed help, and had a great reputation as a shaman and healer. She received such veneration in the family, that two other females were named after her. One was a great aunt (my grandmother’s sister) who died from a childhood illness.
All this just moments after my Rite. I am not one who sees or hears spirits, so I need real “proof” of contact. When you approach the spirits with a sincere heart, they will respond! So Wow! Now I have the story of my Witch ancestor. She may not have called herself a Witch, but consider the lore of Witches from the past. They were people, often women who lived on the outside of society, hated and feared, unless someone needed something! Now it has all come together for me. I am not some freak that has never had anything in common with anyone in my family. I am carrying on a Tradition of spirit work that has been a part of my blood for generations. And I have a name now. Her name is MARY ESTHER WALTZ!
PRAISE AND THANKS TO MARY ESTHER WALTZ!
Thank You for your sacrifice!
Thank You for the lonely nights perfecting your Craft!
Thank You for sharing your gifts
with those who thought you less than human!
Thank You for blazing the trail that is set before me!
PRAISE AND THANKS TO MARY ESTHER WALTZ!
This article has been authored by our Gypsy Witch Teacher and member of the WDA Team Brant Williams. You can hang out with Brant in our Gypsy Cards group!
Further information on the Blacktree Tradition can be found in the book Besom, Stang & Sword by Christopher Orapello and Tara-Love Maguire
Further information on the Clan of Tubal Cain can be found in the book The Star Crossed Serpent: Volume 1 - Origins: Evan John Jones 1966-1998 The Legend of Tubal Cain by Evan John Jones and Shani Oates
Brought to you by Maria Alviz Hernando, WDA Tarot Teacher, and Blog Coordinator.