So full disclosure, I originally slated this post for just before March because I had read that March is Disability Awareness Month in the US. Then when I came back to actually write the post, I did a bit of research and it turns out…that may or may not be accurate? Basically in 1987 there was a declaration to make March National something month–but I’ve read both that it was National Disabilities Month and National Developmental Disabilities Month. Which, to be clear, is also very important! But it’s more specific than I originally thought when I was writing this ritual. I’ve also read that October is Disability Employment Awareness Month, so some people see October as the biggest month for disability awareness. And then July is sometimes celebrated as Disability Pride Month!
All of that being said, I didn’t want to scramble for a new topic today, and anyway we don’t really need an “official” month to be proud or advocate for awareness. So this is a ritual to honor the disabled and neurodivergent people who have come before us. You can do this ritual in March, July, or October if you want to align it with a month when more people than usual are thinking about disability awareness. But ultimately, you can perform this ritual anytime you want to connect with our disabled and neurodivergent ancestors.
This ritual can be done alone or with a group. If you’re working with multiple participants, make sure everyone knows what the ritual will entail ahead of time–it’s not a bad idea to talk everyone through the steps before you even begin. Not everyone is comfortable with ancestor work, and they absolutely shouldn’t be put on the spot or coaxed into participating. Furthermore, if anyone feels uncomfortable partway through the ritual, they should be able to bow out with no protests from others. Give folks the option to say, “With gratitude, I withdraw” and step away from the ritual. It might even be wise to create some sort of visual sign or safeword ahead of time so if anyone is overwhelmed/uncomfortable, they can still let the leader of the ritual know.
YOU WILL NEED
- A space where you can best focus and tune into your intuition. Maybe that means putting on music or inviting someone to participate in the ritual with you for body doubling. Maybe it means finding complete silence and solitude. Whatever works best for you!
For each person participating in the ritual:
- Something you use for self-care that you can make an offering of. Some possibilities might be a soothing drink like tea or hot chocolate that you often make yourself, lotion that you frequently use, or a small craft item like thread or beads from a craft you use to unwind.
- The goal here is to offer something personal to your self-care routines. But you absolutely should NOT offer something that is costly or hard to come by. Medication of any kind, for example, should not be offered here–not even something like ibuprofen that’s comparatively easier to get than prescription meds. (Plus if you leave the offering outside, which is what I often do, you don’t want to accidentally leave something where animals could harm themselves by ingesting it.) But that includes anything that you spend a fair amount of money on, too. If you have a fancy lotion that you buy as a treat for yourself, for instance, I wouldn’t recommend using it as an offering–not even a small dollop. Err on the side of something personal, but accessible. Even a glass of water can be used in a pinch. Hydration is a self-care fundamental, after all.
- Something you can use for divination. This could be a tarot or oracle deck, a set of runes, tea leaves, etc. Or it can just be pen and paper or something you can use for free writing, which is a good all-purpose tool that doesn’t require prior experience.
- Folks who haven’t practiced cartomancy before can still use tarot or oracle decks if they’re so inclined! In this case, make sure they have a deck with evocative card illustrations. (It’s hard to get intuition from “here’s a card with six swords. Here’s a card with seven swords” if you’ve never practiced tarot before, for instance.)In this case, pay attention to the illustrations on the cards you pull, and rely on your intuition to interpret whatever images are there. Don’t worry about what the Wheel of Fortune is supposed to mean. Just focus on what it means for you in this moment.
- Something for each person to take notes with
- If you have one on hand, obsidian can be a great crystal to keep nearby or hold during ancestor work.
- Once everyone participating in the ritual is settled in, begin by casting a circle or creating sacred space in whatever way works best for you/the group. Center and ground yourself to the earth, perhaps. Say an opening prayer to whoever or whatever you’d like. Or simply spend a minute or two focusing on your breath until you feel acclimated to the ritual headspace.
- Since we’re going to be opening a line of communication with ancestors, we want to make sure that we’re protected from anything unwanted picking up the phone on the other end. I don’t personally believe in evil spirits or malicious beings in this situation (though you may, and that’s absolutely valid!) but I do know that there are ancestors who aren’t as healthy in spirit as others. While there are methods for safely working with them, these probably aren’t methods you want to just dip into for a one-off ritual. So before we invite any communication, we want to invoke protection. There’s a few ways this can be achieved.
- My favorite method of protection in ancestor work is asking a known ancestor, deity, or spirit to join me in the space and act as a barrier between me and anything else in their realm. I do a lot of ancestor work, so my great-great grandmother Dodo is my go-to for this. If you or anyone in the ritual has a deity, ancestor, or spirit that they know well, ask that entity to join you. Thank them for their presence, and ask them to protect you as you perform the ritual. I usually say something like, “I ask that you stay with me as I reach out, and only allow ancestors who are well in spirit to speak in this space.” (Making an offering for this specific protector is a nice gesture, too.)
- If you’ve cast a circle or otherwise created sacred space, you can simply declare your intention for that space’s purpose. Firmly and clearly say, “In this space I/we are safe from any unwell spirits or beings. When we open ourselves to communication from the ancestors, only those who are well in spirit may come forward in this circle.”
- Invite ancestors who were disabled and/or neurodivergent. You can absolutely use your own script if you’d like, but if you need an all-purpose one, say, “I/we now invite those disabled or neurodivergent ancestors into the space. I am/we are your descendents in spirit, and today I/we seek your wisdom. You are welcome here, and I/we thank you for your presence.” Take a moment of silence/stillness to allow them to connect and arrive.
- Allow everyone in the ritual to introduce themselves to any ancestors who are visiting. Each participant should share their name and pronouns, and any disability, chronic condition, or neurodivergence they’re comfortable claiming. (Make sure everyone knows ahead of the ritual that this will be part of it–you don’t want to put anyone on the spot, after all.) So, for example, I might say, “My name is Ru-Lee. I use they/them and ey/em pronouns. I have fibromyalgia, IBS, and sensory processing disorder.” If it’s more comfortable for folks, they could also be more broad: “I am disabled/neurodivergent/etc.”
- If you’re performing this ritual solo, you could go into more details about your conditions or about anything else. Since you have more space to talk, you could share what your passions are, for example. Any visiting ancestor likely wants to know more about you!
- Once introductions are taken care of, everyone should take turns making their offering. You can simply present the item, or if you’re comfortable doing so, you can also offer a few words on why you chose the item you chose, e.g. “I offer this peppermint tea, which I drink when my stomach hurts.”
- Take a few moments of individual reflection. Each person should pay close attention to any sensations that come up, images that come to mind, etc. This is where it’s a good idea for everyone to have their own writing implements or tool for taking notes. If you don’t keep some track of any intuitive hits that come through, it’s way too easy to lose their thread once the ritual is over. Even if it seems nonsensical or peculiar, note them.
- Everyone should now take up whatever divination tool they’ve chosen, whether it’s a deck of cards, a set of runes, a blank notebook page, etc. One person should say, “We invite your wisdom. What strength do you see in me/each of us?”
- Allow a few minutes for everyone to pull a card, read the leaves, free write, etc. and take notes on their results.
- Ask, “What can I/each of us do to improve the world for our disabled and neurodivergent siblings?”
- Again, allow time for everyone to divine and take notes.
- If you’d like, you can allow a few more moments of quiet reflection.
- Thank the ancestors for their presence and bid them farewell. A possible script: “I/we thank you from the bottom of my/our heart(s) for your presence and guidance. And I/we honor the struggle you experienced in life and your work to pave the way for me/us. Go with our gratitude.”
- Close the circle, let go of the sacred space, etc. Whatever you need to do to come back from ritual headspace.
- Take a few minutes to reflect on your experience–if you’re alone you could journal or meditate on it, and if you’re in a group invite participants to share with one another. What intuitive information came through? What wisdom came from the divination questions in steps 7 and 8? Did anyone make any connections they’d like to keep working with/explore further?
This was part of my setup when I performed the ritual. I offered tea, and before I invited anyone else, I pulled out the tarot cards that usually represent my dad and my great-great grandmother Dodo and asked them to protect me.
As always, feel free to adapt or adjust this ritual outline however you see fit. If you want to ask further questions of the ancestors, for example, you certainly can do so! Just remember to be respectful, the same way you might if you were visiting a friendly older relative.
Happy (possibly?) Disability Awareness Month. Or happy day you decided to honor your disabled and neurodivergent ancestors no matter what month it is! If you liked this ritual, please consider supporting me on ko-fi with the button below.
Have a wonderful week!