Ancestor and Animal Allies

Working with animal allies

Animal Allies

This is part 4 of my series on Magic 101, you can read parts one, two and three here.

Last week we talked about common misconceptions around spirit allies, this week we are going to discuss the two easiest groups of allies to begin working with: Ancestors and Animals.


The easiest and most accessible group of allies to begin working with are your ancestors.  By ancestors I mean anyone who was in a human body at some point.  They may be related to you by blood, or they may be “cultural ancestors” people from history that you have a strong love for or affinity with.   Ancestors are the most accessible group because they know what it is to be human, and they usually have a vested interest in seeing humans thrive.  To begin working with ancestors sometimes all you have to do is start honoring them.

In Mexican and Latin American culture the traditional time to honor your ancestors is Day of the Dead, or the time just following Halloween.  This holiday also has links back to Celtic traditions, as it was thought that the end of October was the time when the ‘veil’ separating our world from the realm of the ancestors was thinnest.  You don’t have to wait until November to honor your ancestors.  Leave out an offering of food, put pictures of them up, thank them for making your life possible.  And no, you don’t have to honor any relationships with ancestors that may have been difficult for you when they were alive, but doing so, may greatly help you heal family trauma.

Ancestors allies can be helpful for:

  • dealing with current family situations
  • healing from family trauma
  • erasing patterns of dysfunction from your family lines
  • healing the DNA of your family line
  • healing cultural wounds like homophobia, racism and misogyny

I personally believe that after death all humans go through a “karmic” reckoning of sorts, therefore most ancestors who may have had problematic politics or practices during their lives, will have learned the lessons necessary to have released those patterns and learned from their mistakes.  I say most, because it is always a good idea to be cautious when working with a spirit that you haven’t known before.  In the last article I brought up the need to only work with those ‘who love us beyond all reason’ this is a great filter for weeding out the not so helpful influences.

It is also possible to work with ancestors of other cultures, if you feel strongly that you are invited to, and you approach it with an attitude of respect.  Relationships with spirit allies should always be more about giving than getting.  Honoring the ancestors who lived on the land before you, especially in colonized countries like the US, is never wrong if you approach it with humility and respect.  I always follow this rule of thumb when working with ancestors from other cultures:  I owe tremendous gratitude to those who walked this land before me, I accept and am grateful for the gifts given to me by ancestors who are not mine by blood, but I recognize that that in no way gives me any access or rights to the living people of that same culture.  To assume so would just be arrogant and sketchy.


Animal allies are maybe the second most accessible group to find your allies within, this is because they are also red blooded creatures.  Many cultures have different traditions and meaning behind the significance of different animals and it is important to respect the ways of other cultures, but we each can have a personal relationship with animal allies.  When we work with the spirit of the animal, we treat all individual animals as a representative of that spirit.  So for instance, if crow is one of my allies, all crows that I see, are living representative of the spirit of crow.

You can find a lot of books out there that give the ‘meanings’ or powers behind certain animal allies, and while it can be fun to read what others have to say about what an animal represents, ultimately it is unique to you and your relationship with them.  So don’t be bound by what a book says if you have a strong intuition about the gifts that an animal ally is offering.

Animal allies can be most helpful in the following ways:

  • teaching you a quality associated with the species like courage, patience, joy
  • teaching you a specific psychic skill, like seeing in the dark,
  • helping you make connections to the land you live on
  • as ambassadors to other spirit allies
  • as protection

To begin working with animal allies, first just notice what kinds of animals are around you.  Birds, rodents, domesticated animals, even fish and bugs can be allies.  Often I think we have this idea that our animal allies have to be top of the food chain, or animals from the African Sahara, but really we are surrounded by animals all the time.  Who is around you?  when do they show up?  What does it mean for you?  When you are ready to work with an animal as a ally, you also take on a responsibility to speak up for their rights on this planet.

Working with Allies

People get information from allies in many different ways, and it important to remember that your way of working with them is going to be unique to you.  Sometimes they show up as symbols.  For a point of time in my life I kept finding heart shaped rocks where ever I went.  It was my allies sending me a message.  I’ve also had a profound experience with owls at the top of a mountain at dusk.  These examples are unmistakable and concrete, but messages can also come in more subtle forms.  A friend of mine would get a physical sensation of being pulled to the left, whenever a certain ally of hers was around.  Other people get a certain smell that comes around when their allies are present.

To begin a relationship with an ally, I would first use the filter I suggested above by creating sacred space in whatever way you like: I cast a circle. Then call in your allies and make sure you are calling in only those who ‘love you beyond all reason’.  Then ask to be given an image, a name or a sensation to associate with this ally.  Trust what comes to you, you really can’t get this wrong.   Then begin forming  a relationship with this ally. You may want to build them an altar, you may wish to leave offerings.  Use your intuition to guide you.  You can ask them to give you dreams, or you can ask them specific questions with Tarot of a pendulum.  Really the sky is the limit if you keep in mind that it is always more about giving than getting.

Let us know how it goes by leaving a comment below.


Spirit Allies Demystified

This post is part 3 in my What is Magic series, click here to read parts one and two.

Ancestor and Animals make great spirit allies

Ancestor and Animals make great spirit allies

The topic of spirit allies is one that can leave some people squirming with discomfort.  It’s one of those things that if you talk about openly in the wrong company could definitely get you labeled a wacko.  If that’s your fear, don’t run away, I’m gonna break the subject down for you in a nice digestible, non-wacko way.

Any discussion of spirits is always going to make some folks a little squeamish, because we can’t see them or touch them.  But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, and once you start tuning into the subtle ways that you might be getting messages from your allies, you will see that it really isn’t so mysterious.

I believe we are all born with a team of spirits who are here to help us in this lifetime.   I call them Spirit Allies.

Before we go any further lets get some myths about spirit allies out of the way.

  1. You don’t have to be a special kind of person to have them.  Everyone has them, that includes you. Whether you choose to recognize them and work with them is completely up to you, but they are there helping you out regardless.
  2. You don’t need a shaman to find yours:  Having someone help you figure out who they are can be helpful, especially if you are like I used to be, and believe that there is nothing  magical about yourself.  But your allies are yours, and even if someone does give you information about them, always make sure it fits with your own intuition about who they are, don’t just take someone’s word for it.
  3. You also don’t need to pay $3000 and go to a weekend workshop to find them.  While classes and workshops can be helpful in getting over the blocks you might have to believing the information you are getting intuitively, your allies are always there ready to reveal themselves if you only ask.
  4. If they are an animal, they aren’t always predators.   Sure it’s cool to have an African Lion or a Bald Eagle as your spirit ally, but any animal may be an ally: a wren, a snail, the dragonfly, or the common house cat might be a powerful ally to you.  In fact, one of my teachers, Colette Gardiner teaches that the first step to finding an animal ally is to notice what animals you see on a daily basis.  Crow, cat, dog, squirrel, fox, but sadly for those of us outside of Africa, no lions.
  5. They are not ghosts.  Ghosts are the imprint left by humans who have not fully passed through the gate into the afterlife.  They are not allies.  They are usually stuck trying to work through something left-over from their lives.  Allies on the other hand are humans that have fully passed through to the afterlife and learned the wisdom they needed to learn about their human life.

Getting Started

First and foremost in working with any spirit you want to be sure of two things.  One that you set a boundary to only deal with spirits that ‘love you beyond all reason’.  There are plenty of spirits out there, and many of them have agendas of their own, not all of them have your best interests at heart.  So whenever I call a spirit into a circle, or magical space, I make sure to qualify it such.

The other thing to keep in mind is that it is a two way relationship.  Our allies are here to help us, but in return we also are here to remember them, honor them, and if needed speak up for them.

Next week we are going to discuss the two easiest group of allies to get to know: Ancestors and Animal Allies.  But for now I want you to ponder two questions:

  1. what animals do you see on a daily basis?  Do you ever have an animal visit you in dreams?
  2. Is there an ancestor that you feel a particular affinity for? or who’s story has always captivated you?

Leave a comment below, and be sure to share this article if you find it helpful.