Path of Remembrance - Reviving European ancestral Wisdom
Written by Megan Hudson - 2 November 2022
Kat is a Wisdom Seeker and Storyteller of ancestral European spirituality, folklore and mythology. Her work lies at the intersection of remembrance and re-enchantment, bridging her extensive historical knowledge on Paganism to embodiment through earth based rituals in today's world. By reviving ancestral European culture, and searching for connection at the roots of her own lineage, Kat brings ritual and knowledge into re-establishing a connection to the ancestral realm, to the spirits of Europe and a cosmology based in the feminine and reciprocity of the natural world.
'I always want to underline that 'the' path is not linear, the path of remembrance is nothing linear at all.'
Her work is marked by the 'Path of remembrance'. In remembering our true nature as beings of the Earth, reconnecting to our ancestral lineage and reviving the stories of a connected and earth based spirituality of native European ideology and beliefs.
STORIES AS SPIRAL - EMBODYING SACRED RELATIONSHIP TO LIFE
The path of remembrance is deeply tied to that of the story, stories of personal identity, histories and herstories, and stories of the deep relational ancestral webs. This journey is 'always cyclical in nature, it is not linear', Kat shares. A story, much like remembrance, must go through the phases of forgetting (death) and creation (birth), reflective of the cycles of life. The remembering of and telling of stories is much like a spiral, going through a release of parts of the story which no longer align to give space for rebirth of a more connected and reciprocal truth. Much like the spiral, which ‘embodies as a symbol the nature of life’, the story is a constant iteration between the in and the out. ‘Bringing matter into spirit and spirit into matter’. A constant shifting conversation between the micro and the macro. This manifests in our personal journey of story and self-discovery, but also to the stories we share of our collective lineage and webs of belonging.
'It’s a constant process of rearranging and perceiving the different aspects of story that take place throughout our lives and all stories go in circles, in cycles. I also want to communicate to people that it's also part of remembering is to forget, and that that's okay also.'
The wisdom of the spiral as a pattern of story translates into the practice of ancestral remembrance through the remembering of native European lineage and spirituality, but also in the releasing of a nostalgia of ancient times to create a new story of a connected embodied European spirituality. ‘We are a globalised species now (...)’, and the story of ancestral Europe and culture is one that is being re-woven reflective of the globalised and interconnected nature of today’s world. Our practices and rituals can bridge this, bringing in the new with the old to allow a conscious process of meaning-making.
'Fairy Tales, myth and story have always been an essential way of how I view my reality.' As a child, Kat remembers, she couldn’t wait to be able to read, to delve into the worlds contained within books. Story has guided her through-out her journey, threading and re-weaving as her reality unfolded to her. It was her study of story, which led her down the path of being a Space Holder for native European culture, an observation of the pattern of story that was being repeated and communicated to her. ‘(...) when we become conscious, when we start to communicate with our reality, we can recognize certain patterns of story'. This is the divine, the universe communicating with us, mirroring our own reality as a reflection of the world. The pattern of story which unfolded to Kat, was one which drew her longing to live deeply embedded within a rich web of meaning and connectivity to her own roots and lands of Europe, bringing healing the severed ties to the ancestors and spirit.
'AS WITHIN, SO WITHOUT' - KAT'S JOURNEY OF REMEMBRANCE
Kat’s wisdom on story and embodying sacred connection through the communication of patterns of story to us is a beautiful lesson received from her own personal journey - one of longing, death and a rebirth. Having spent many years travelling the world, ''(...) and searched for meaning and this feeling of an older way of connection with life in many cultures.(...) It was through death that I found it had been at the roots of my own family lineage all along.’ Having spent many years learning from cultures and healers all around the world, it was this process of initiation into the ending of life cycle that led her to find the answers within her own family lineage.
Her aunt had suggested she meet her Great-Aunt, the sister of Kat’s grand-mother. She had been told that her Great-Aunt was much like herself, a spiritual woman and a healer. However, she passed before the meeting was able to take place. At the celebration of her life, within their ancestral home, she observed the beautiful objects of magic and healing of her Great-Aunt. Books of ecology, feminism and healing , objects with light and healing enshrined within them. "I realised that we were the same, we come from the same lineage of soul and that she had been my elder all along, and I realised that I had been looking in other cultures for what was the whole time at the roots of my own lineage, my own family tree."
This death showed 'how truly catalysing the passing of a powerful soul can be', Kat shares and 'initiated a deep process of grief (...) by having missed this gift of being able to connect with my own elder'. With this came many questions about European culture and the processes which keep us cut from our elders and the absence of transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next. The work lies on this axis, of making space to grieve the loss of our ancestral connection and our native culture, and embodying a revival of connection and remembrance . ‘I deeply believe that we cannot find an embodied spirituality as Europeans or as white people if we don't also confront the grief (of losing our connection to our ancestors and earth) that still lives inside of us and it’s part of our responsibility to face it.’
'Grieving, it doesn't have to be something terrible, it can be something beautiful and such an expression of love and of our humanity, and it makes us whole it makes us human, we need to grieve in order to live and to love because it is the aspect that where we in action confront the energy of death in our reality.'
Grief is the sacred ritual accompanying the transition from the ending of a cycle to the birthing of a new one. The omission of death and the practice of grief in Western culture is a reflection of the linearity of it’s current paradigm. When asked why holding space for death was so important for European culture, Kat says 'Because to know life fully, we must also know death fully.', and this practice of honouring death is fundamental during these times of ecological emergency. Her practises ceremonies of honouring and giving gratitude to the gifts bestowed upon us by our ancestors. ‘Think about what are the qualities we have been giving in our lineage. I can look at everyone in my family and see a gift from them that lives in me.’
'We really must come back to honouring death and seeing death and as a part of life, it is a very necessary other side of birth and of life. In order for things to be born and to be transformed, there needs to be death and destruction. In all ancient cultures, in every pantheon there is a divine energy embodying the energy of death and of destruction. In the ancient tradition of the world and also Europe, the great mother was seen as both, as both the life giver and the life taker.'
Seeking connection at the wake of her Great-Aunt, Kat asked for a message from her through the tarot deck that she found in her home. The card she received was one of a young woman embarking on a vision quest. She learned that Vision Quest had been the life's work of her Great-Aunt. On this beautiful journey nine months later, she reconnected with her lineage and the magic which had always been within her own family legacy, right at home and at the roots of her own family tree.
This pattern of story, one of connection, life , death and ancestral remembrance was one which she found communicated to her through-out her life. 'So for me this is the way that we can truly find our own authentic way of embodying our sacred relationship to life. Through really just paying attention to how life is communicating with us and how we are communicating with life .'
WISDOM SEEKER, SPACE HOLDER AND STORYTELLER
This was an initiation into the wisdom of the cycles of life, passing through grief of the death of an elder, transformation of an old identity and finally into a rebirth which catalysed Kat into the path of ancestral remembrance and spiritual connection at the roots of her own family’s lineage. The journey which
found her was one of becoming a Wisdom Seeker and Teller of the stories of ancient Europe, bringing this into dialogue with the modern culture of today and bringing embodied ritual practice to connect to the earth and its webs of life. Connecting with the feminine, story, magic and medicine of local plants and bringing embodiment of the sacred into a European space.
Particularly during the transitional season into Autumn, when nature is moving into its phases of rest to fully bloom once again in spring, ancestral remembrance holds a significance. During this festival of Samhain, the Celtic Pagan predecessor of Halloween, the veils between this and the otherworld are at its thinnest.
RITUAL PRACTICE FOR SAMHAIN AND ANCESTRAL HONOURING
In ritual practice of ancestral remembrance, Kat suggests connecting with gratitude and love to the entangled and ancient web of our own ancestors, in reweaving an interconnected web of collectivity. “To embody our ancestral remembrance and reconnect with the stories and spirits of European lands, connecting to the elements and making a simple altar with a food offering for the ancestors”.
“Traditionally in European culture, people would make offerings to our ancestors of things we had such as millets, beer or milk. Today, if you want to honour a person that has passed, an ancestor or someone you were close to, you can prepare their favourite food. Make a plate for them, place it at your table and afterwards on an altar, if you don't have an altar, you can carefully craft one in their honour. Practice creating a beautiful table to come together and eat in ceremony and celebration. This feast can be shared with your friends, family and community. Invite your friends over, share with them, like all the pagan holidays it is about community and reciprocity. Everyone can bring something to eat. Maybe bring some pictures of your ancestors or the people who died, speak about them, speak about what you loved about them, what they love to do and share memories, make them come alive in this moment.
You can make it very simple. You could forage some seasonal things to put on your altar to connect with nature, like rose hips or something which grows in this season. Maybe light a candle and let that candle burn that night. And smudge for them, and focusing on them and sending them some of the smoke and letting me know you are thinking about them. I feel it is also a really good practice to learn to speak it out, to come back into the naturalness and comfort of speaking with our ancestors and spirit, because many of us don't actually know how to pray, or we think there is a right or a wrong way. It's not about this, it's about becoming comfortable with this practice. Bringing thanks to our ancestors for the gifts that we have been given, and feeding them in reciprocity. Think about what are the qualities we have been giving in our lineage and honour them through remembrance, altars and ritual.”
AN INVITATION OF RECONNECTION TO EUROPEAN ANCESTRAL WISDOM
If you feel the call to reconnect with your ancestral roots, pagan wisdom, inner witch and earth based practice, you can reach out to Kat at www.katharinalouise.com
Kat offers “Ancestral Remembrance” year-long courses which takes place in and around Berlin. As a group she goes through the pagan wheel of the year (solstices, equinoxes, imbolc/lughnasadh, beltane/samhain) together and connect with the energy of that time of the year and season ritually and in a space of emotional reflection.
She also dives into the Goddess culture, learning the stories of ancient Goddesses such as Frau Holle. She was the primordial mother goddess of life and death, guiding the souls between the worlds. She is the wild force of nature and the embodiment of the wisdom of Mother Earth herself. Her name traces back from Holle, to Hella, to Hel. The Christian church used her name to describe their version of a terrible underworld that is based on punishment, while in fact that had nothing to do with her. This course will hold space in reconnecting to the ancient stories of these Goddesses.
For people abroad, can also a self-paced course online with the same topic, beginning at the solstice."