Raven Grimassi: Communing with the Ancestors
I was sent a copy of Raven Grimassi’s latest book, Communing with the Ancestors: Your Spirit Guides, Bloodline Allies and the Cycle of Reincarnation, and was immediately intrigued by the beautiful style of writing and the inclusive nature that encompasses people of all paths. A full review of the book will be available on Pagan Pages next month, but in the meantime, I was lucky enough to get the chance to ask Raven some questions about this fascinating volume.
Mabh Savage: Tell us about Communing with the Ancestors. What was your main aim with the book, and what type of reader will get the most out of it?
Raven Grimassi: The primary purpose was in deepening the work of connecting with the Ancestors. It’s important that we enlist the aid of the Ancestors. I feel that the readership for this book is anyone who wonders about the purpose of Life and about the role of reincarnation.
MS: You say that in your book you avoided focusing on any one particular cultural view or practice, which makes this book very accessible. What culture so you most identify with though, when communing with your own ancestors?
RG: If I had to focus on just one, then I relate most to my Italian heritage. However, I am also German and Scot and I do not ignore this lineage.
MS: Is everybody capable of making a connection with their ancestors, or the ancestors?
RG: Yes, definitely. The Ancestors are part of our DNA, they reside within us to the cellular level. Even adopted people who don’t know their lineage can connect deeply with their bloodline heritage. The Ancestors have never lost track of them for they reside within them.
MS: You speak of ‘getting out of the way’ during the writing process. Can you tell me more about that?
RG: When I struggled with writing this book, I head the inner Ancestral voices say “Stop trying to write this book and let this book be written. I had to stop forging and directing the work, which meant I had to let things come through me as opposed to from me. The hands on the keyboard were mine, but the material was coming from some other source.
MS: How did you first come across the concept of the Spirit Rider?
RG: Like so much else in the book, it was passed to me from the Ancestral voices. At the core was a concept I found in studying the Mayan Vision Serpent, an entity intimately connected with the Ancestors. I had also run across some material on the Hawaiian Huna concept of connecting with the Ancestors through a Shamanic technique that requires projecting consciousness outward from the tailbone of the spine. The purpose was to meet the Ancestors. From this two concepts, something formed and was passed to me. I was given the imagery of the Spirit Rider as a serpent form in which the Ancestors can connect with us through our spines.
MS: You write in a beautiful, metaphorical style. Do you think there is magic in poetry?
RG: I think that the essence of magic can be conveyed through poetry. Poetry can also initiate a magical consciousness that can open inner portals that lead to visions and enlightenment.
MS: You mention that in writing the book you became a student to it. What further lessons have been imparted since the completion of this volume?
RG: It’s been an ongoing process. The most activity has been around trying to firmly grasp where the persona worn by the soul comes from, and what exactly is the “pool of consciousness” that legends suggest was the original of the human consciousness.
MS: The ancestral realm you speak of; is this what lies beyond what many Pagans refer to as ‘the veil’?
RG: I’ve come to see the Ancestral Realm as the residing place of those who came before us. It is connected to the Earth Plane and the Elemental Plane, even though technically it is in the Otherworld or Inner Dimensions. That being said, I think that what is found on the other side of the veil is the Afterlife Realm, a temporary realm in which the Dead dwell for a time. This is different from the Ancestral Realm.
MS: What part of the landscape gives you the closest connection to the ancestors?
RG: In general, areas with distinct rock formations seem to hold memory best. This includes manmade formations such as Stonehenge. Caves are excellent gateways to the Ancestors, and lakes and wells are also good points of access.
MS: Are you working on any more books at the moment?
RG: I always have at least two books going at one time. My primary focus at present is to complete a book I started over 30 years ago. It is an examination of the Witch Lore contained in the writings of folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland. In the book I will also present new findings about his “Witch informant” and the authentic tradition that she revealed to Leland.
MS: The writings in Communing with the Ancestors sound like quite an intense process. How did you relax or take time away from it?
RG: I actually don’t take time away from a manuscript that I am submitting to a Publisher. I work every day on it, and the process takes months to finish (anywhere from 3 to 6). I often take my meals while writing, and there are no days off.
MS: And finally, what are you most looking forward to over the next few seasons?
RG: Reconnecting with family and with old friends. Too much time has passed while pursuing my work.