Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Book Review: Ancestral Grimoire by Nancy Hendrickson

ancestor veneration, tarot, book review, witch, witchcraft, occult, spiritual, wicca, wiccan, pagan

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I received a free copy of this book via Weiser in exchange for an honest review.

In 2021, I had the privilege of reading and reviewing Ancestral Tarot: Uncover Your Past and Chart Your Future by Nancy Hendrickson. It remains one of the best books on ancestor work I have read, so when Weiser reached out asking if I would like to review Hendrickson's latest book Ancestral Grimoire: Connect with the Wisdom of the Ancestors through Tarot, Oracles, and Magic I jumped on the opportunity. Of course, I was not disappointed, and honestly, I think this book is the better of the two regarding building an ancestral veneration practice.

Ancestral Grimoire is divided into two parts: Tools for Divination and Building Your Ancestral Grimoire. Part I introduces the reader to the tools that will be used in Part II to build your ancestral grimoire, from tarot and other divination tools to the seasons, months, and sabbats. When discussing the seasons and sabbats, Hendrickson takes a very scientific approach, which as a scientist I appreciate. I love magic and mystery as much as the next witch, but not everything is a 'magical' event. Sometimes it's just science, and that's okay! I strongly believe science and magic go hand-in-hand with one another, and therefore should not be separated from each other.

Hendrickson once again focuses heavily on using tarot to connect with your ancestors. She offers spreads and methods for making contact with specific examples to direct the reader. I love that she consistently provides examples from her own practice as it helps me understand the text and gives me an idea of what I should expect to happen. On top of this, Hendrickson is respectful of gender fluidity. She makes note that traditional binary views don't always work saying that feminine-presenting ancestors can appear as masculine-presenting cards and vice versa. The same is true of age. An adult who was childlike in life can appear as a child card, while a child who was forced to grow up too quickly can appear as an adult card. Instead of focusing on the gender or age of the card, you should instead focus on the ancestor's personality as represented by the cards you have pulled and use other methods, such as a pendulum, to pinpoint gender (or lack thereof) age, or even location.

ancestor veneration, tarot, book review, witch, witchcraft, occult, spiritual, wicca, wiccan, pagan

Despite leaning heavily on tarot, Hendrickson also offers other ways to connect with your ancestors, including through visiting the Land of Tarot. Her description of the Land of Tarot sounds remarkably similar to the Middle Realm, especially if you have established a garden or office for hedge riding. Either way, Hendrickson's Land of Tarot or your astral office/garden are both valid places to meet with your ancestors. She offers a pathwalking exercise to get to the Land of Tarot which is almost identical to starting a hedge riding journey, so if you are talented in hedge riding, you could rely on it over tarot to meet with your ancestors. If you prefer to use tarot, Hendrickson suggests using The Relative Tarot, and I concur. I had the privilege of reviewing the deck in 2021 and it's by far the best deck I have found for connecting with my ancestors, but just because it works well for us does not mean it will work well for you. Your ancestors may request a different deck, one they can better connect to, so pay attention during this process.

Part II focuses entirely on connecting with your ancestors with each month dedicated to a particular ancestor's trait such as lunar magic, solar magic, reading signs, sigil work, manifestation magic, or healing. Not only does she invite you to cultivate a relationship with several ancestors, but also to cultivate necessary magical skills. I love this approach to ancestor magic and fully agree that any ancestral practice you cultivate should be rooted in skill-building.

Hendrickson does all this with a touch of sass, the occasional curse word popping up to emphasize something's importance. I love how real and relatable Hendrickson's writing is. It makes reading feel like a conversation with an old friend.

If you are interested in building your ancestral practice, I highly encourage you to pick up Ancestral Grimoire: Connect with the Wisdom of the Ancestors through Tarot, Oracles, and Magic by Nancy Hendrickson. I know you will not be disappointed.

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  1. This looks like a great book! What you said about science and magic going hand in hand reminds me of something I read just last night in The Night School by Maia Toll (this is a super cool book I picked up at a book sale a few weeks ago). She wrote that science and magic are two sides of the same coin and that what we perceive as science with our "daylight mind" is simply a different way of approaching or understanding the same concepts that our "nighttime mind" understands as magic. So that science is simply daytime's version of nighttime's magic! She used some interesting examples from quantum mechanics and various creation myths vs the science creation story to illustrate her point. Anyway, reading what you wrote today was a cool synchronicity with what I've been pondering about since last night's reading so I thought I'd share! I'm not finished with the book yet but it's really neat so far. Seems like something you might enjoy too if you run across a copy 🙂

    1. What a wonderful perspective! I'll have to check it out. Thank you so much for reading and sharing. <3


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