Looking at both these cards I was struck by the idea of offerings – each image shows several bowls each filled with a variety of offerings. The offerings might serve a different purpose but for some reason what struck me was honoring the ancestors or the gods. On the Greenwood 7 of Cups a skull is surrounded by 7 cups and its keyword is mourning. The Wheel of Change 7 of Cups shows 7 bowls filled with various types of foods surrounding a grinning, fanged statue – the Fire God of Flores. These are offerings to appease the Fire God. The offerings and statue all sit on a decorated carpet shaded by a parasol, and overlooking three craters and a volcano. One of the craters is filled with burgundy fluid, the other has a greenish fluid and the third a milky blue fluid. Across the plain a mountain reaches up towards the sky but is still in the shadow of the huge volcano.
The Greenwood image shouted “honoring the Ancestors” at me. It reminded me of spiritual practices where people make offerings and give honor to the Noble Dead, the ancestors of blood and heart. The skull at the center symbolizes those dead ancestors. On the Wheel of Change 7 of Cups I was struck by the idea of someone making offerings to the deity of the volcano; sacrifices to appease the gods. Regardless of what purpose the offerings serve, the main concept is that they are offerings.
That reminded me that I could spend more time honoring my own ancestors. As part of ADF’s ritual structure and spiritual practice, honoring the Ancestors is required and recommended. Beyond the ritual structure, there is no mandatory way to do this but many members find that daily devotionals offer a wonderful opportunity to connect with the Ancestors and offer them honor and recognition. I have been somewhat remiss in this area. I certainly think about my ancestors on a regular basis but I’m not always as diligent at daily devotions or making offerings to them. The reality is that the more I honor them, the more likely they are to aide me. But more than that, I do feel it is important to remember our ancestors, even if they weren’t very nice.
I have been doing some preliminary genealogical research over the past few months and it amazes me how many of the women in my line seem to have been married to rather useless men. Of course I’m extrapolating this belief based on certain things I’ve found in the records – such as that my great-grandmother divorced my great-grandfather and the family stories I’ve heard about those I can remember. I think in past generations when it was not as easy to divorce a spouse as it is today, many men and women stayed in unhappy relationships for a variety of reasons. I don’t think such a sacrifice should be forgotten. I also think honoring and remembering the ancestors and keeping family stories alive give us a sense of connection to something much larger than ourselves. It allows us to see the patterns that have influenced our families and ultimately change those that are negative into something positive. It can also help heal rifts. For many years I had a rough relationship with my mother because I couldn’t forgive her for things that had occurred in my childhood. When I was able to take a step back and look at her childhood and her mother’s childhood, things came into focus and my perceptions shifted. This ultimately allowed me to start healing this rift and forgive her.
So although we have specific occasions for honoring those that died in war or serving this country, perhaps we need to get better at honoring our own personal dead. We can offer thanks to the grandmother whose sense of humor was passed on to us and helps us get through the rough times. Or perhaps we need to thank and honor the aunt who gifted us with her bright red hair or her no-nonsense approach to obstacles. Whatever gifts they have given me and however they continue to bless my life, I think the 7 of Cups is reminding me that I need to make more of an effort to honor my ancestors on a regular basis.