When working within a ritual space I’ve called out the Three Kindreds in two different ways. Each ways has its place depending on what the focus for the rite is, and depending also on what pantheon I’m working with. The first way I call out to them, and the way I tend to do more often and feel more comfortable with, if by calling out first to the Ancestors, and feeling the power of them raising up from the ground and soaking up through the Well. I associate the Ancestors with the Well. I then call to the Nature Spirits all around me, within this world and realm. I associate the Nature Spirits with the Tree. Then reaching up to the sky, I call out to the Shining Ones, and feel their warmth wash around me. I associate the Shining Ones with the Fire. As I’ve deepened my work however, I’ve begun to question whether or not this way of calling to them is always the best way. After all, are there not Deities who reside below me, and Spirits of Nature in mythical forms that aren’t of this realm, and the Mighty Dead, the Heroes, who may drift up from the Underworld, who’ve been made constellations, or even those more modern heroes whose accomplishes still influence the world today? So if I’m always calling to them in a way that partitions them into the Three Realms, am I then, in essence, unintentionally skipping some of the Kindreds?
The result of this argument in myself was to begin changing the way I call to the Kindreds as the circumstances necessitate. So now, the other way that I call out to them is by first calling to the numinous beings of the chthonic realm. The Ancestors who dwell there, the Spirits of Nature who dwell there, and the Shining Ones who dwell there. I then call out to the numinous beings of this realm, the beings in the world around us. The Ancestors who dwell there, the Spirits of Nature who dwell there, and the Shining Ones who dwell there. And then finally I call out to all the numinous beings of the Upper Realm, those in the heavens, on Mt. Olympus, or in Asgard. The Ancestors who dwell there, the Spirits of Nature who dwell there, and the Shining Ones who dwell there.
With this broadening understanding of where each of the Three Kindreds dwell, my understanding of each of them has also broadened. The Ancestors are the Mighty Dead; the Ancient Wise who have gone before, and as such they have knowledge beyond my comprehension that can help me on my path, my journey. There are three ways that I connect to the Ancestors. There are ancestors of my blood, ancestors of my country/culture, and ancestors of my hearth. My immediate thought has always gone to blood-kin first, and I at first believed that was the only way to approach the Ancestors. So, that caused major problems for me because I’m adopted. Trying to forge a connection the ancestors over bloodlines and ties hasn’t worked at all for me. I think I probably have a bit of mental block against connecting that way. I’ve tried to do some family history work to trace back my adoptive family, but even that only goes back four generations or so. My family isn’t very talkative, and doesn’t seem to have any desire to talk about stories from their past, and there are no tales about the “Old Country.” I’ve only got a couple of names and a few stories to connect me back, and it’s not a connection I feel particularly strong about to begin with.
I’ve had more luck connecting to the cultural ancestors. The me these are all the people who have helped to shape our world and culture, and made it what it is today. For me, this means important figures in science (Galileo, Copernicus), philosophy (Socrates, Plato), literature (Shakespeare, Homer), history (Caesar, Queen Elizabeth, Washington), and human rights (Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa), etc. By honoring the cultural ancestors I connect both to the culture of humanity as a whole, as well as to sub-cultures of people and professions that have shaped out society. For instance, in healing I may honor or Brighde as well as someone like Alexander Fleming.
The third way I make connections with the Ancestors is through the myths of the heroes. This goes back so far as to include people like Herakles, Daedalus, and Theseus, but I also see it including folk heroes such as Paul Revere, Paul Bunyan, and the Chocolate Pilot. They are the people who’ve experienced the world, strove to make it a better place, and because of that have had their stories told to millions.
I see the Nature Spirits in two broad categories. Those beings of nature that we can see, and those we can’t. The first type of Nature Spirit is the more obvious. They are the creatures that inhabit our world: the birds, fish, insects, reptiles and mammals, but they are also the trees, rivers, rocks, plants, dirt, and oceans. They are all part of the ecosystem that makes our world work together and function, and that is a large part of why they deserve honor. Of the Three Kindreds, the Nature Spirits are the ones I connect the most to. I can see them everywhere, and interact on them in a physical sense everyday. I can go out to my garden and I can honor and worship the Nature Spirits in a way that I can see results.
The second type of Nature Spirit, the kind you can’t see, are the mythical beasts. This incorporates creatures that live hidden in our world, are described in myths, or take on roles beyond that of their mundane counterparts: the unicorn, phoenix, griffin, dryads, and nymphs, but also the creatures like the crane, wolf, falcon and owl, who have extended responsibilities and duties. These nature spirits are those who are our spirit guides, our totems, or those to deliver omens. I connect to these in many ways the same way I do to the visible Nature Spirits, especially in the plants and waters. I feel extreme connection to the wide variety of nymphs (the dryads, naiads, okeanides, etc.) and see them in the world all around me. I see this second group of Nature Spirits as the tenders of the first, and it is my job to aid the second group in their care for the first. And because of this relationship between us, the way I worship the Nature Spirits best and the way I am the most fulfilled by it, is through my active work out in nature, experiencing the world around me.
The Shining Ones are grouped more based on their “job description.” There are those who work in the Upper Realm, Gods of the sky, air, sun, wind, etc. or those who are specifically said to dwell in the Upper Realm. There are those who work in the mid-realm, like Gods of the forest, hearth, commerce, war, etc. And then there are those who work in the Underworld, mainly the Gods of death. When I work with the Theoi, I approach them first on a professional level. When I’m learning about a deity and first begin my approach toward them based on what their “job” is. I read the myths and occasionally ask others who work with the deity, but I approach them on that professional level. It’s only after I’ve started to develop that base relationship where we can talk on a professional level that I can then begin to deepen my relationship with certain deities on a more friendly level. So the Shining Ones are a great in power and in number.
I find myself most strongly drawn to the Gods of the Mid-Realm, and I think that is probably because I’m so strongly drawn to the Nature Spirits. And just as the mythical beasts protect nature, the Gods of this realm protect and work with all beings of this realm. That includes the plants, animals, minerals, and humans. In the sense that it is easier to connect to the Gods of the Mid-Realm because they are more connected to and invested in the affairs of humans.
The Gods of the Upper Realm and the Underworld I generally have less connection to. I still feel connected to the Upper Realm Gods who I can see and feel and interact with, like gods of the sun, wind, air, and rain. Though they dwell above me, I directly feel their influence. I think the reason I still feel only a slight connection the gods of the Underworld is because of my trouble connecting with the Ancestors.
In conclusion, all of the Three Kindreds are tied together. Each of their relationship to each other affects how I, in turn, am able to relate to them. Because of my comfort with the more tangible aspects of the Kindreds, it is those particular entities in each of the delineations of the Kindreds that I best relate to, and the more work I have to do to grow the relationship with the others.