🪦 Weekly Witchy CHALLENGE - Ancestor Work

Merry meet!

Thank you once again to everyone who joined in for last week’s Weekly Witchy Challenge - Circles in Magick :o:

It’s time to close your magickal circles and step into a circle of a different kind- your own circle, forged by blood and time.

This week’s challenge honors the ancient Parentalia Festival and is…

Ancestor Spirit Work Heritage Challenge

:headstone: :pray: Working with Ancestors :candle::place_of_worship:

Blessed Parentalia! This ancient Roman festival is a multi-day occasion that calls on us to take time to honor our ancestors and lost loved ones. A bit like Samhain in February, this is a time for reflection, respect, and spirit work :sparkles:

In ancient Rome, the Parentalia (or dies parentales, “ancestral days”) was a nine-day held in honor of family ancestors, beginning on 13 February.

Ovid describes sacred offerings (sacrificia ) of flower-garlands, wheat, salt, wine-soaked bread and violets to the “shades of the dead” (Manes or Di manes ) at family tombs, which were located outside Rome’s sacred boundary (pomerium) . These observances were meant to strengthen the mutual obligations and protective ties between the living and the dead, and were a lawful duty of the paterfamilias (head of the family). Parentalia concluded on 21 February in the midnight rites of Feralia, when the paterfamilias addressed the malevolent, destructive aspects of his Manes .

From Wikipedia: The Parentalia Festival

The Parentalia festival began this week and will last until next Tuesday, February 21- the day this challenge concludes.

With the New Moon :new_moon_with_face: (a time of reflection and recollection) and beginning of Pisces Season :pisces: (the final sign of the Zodiac, attuned with otherworldly matters) this week, this Parentalia is a particularly auspicious time for working with spirits :ghost:

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This week’s challenge is all about working with ancestors- but as always, how you do so is up to you!

So are you ready? Because it’s…



Please note that you do NOT need to focus on your blood kin ancestors for this challenge if that is not something that feels right to you. Please see below for other challenge suggestions and ways to explore this theme.

Picture from Spells8: Ancestor Altar Ideas

STEP 1 : Doing Ancestor & Spirit Work :ghost:

This challenge is all about ancestors and spirit work- but how you choose to take on this theme is up to you!

Still not sure where to begin? To help you get started, here are a few ways in which a witch might approach this challenge…

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An Ancestor Altar of Your Own :place_of_worship:

One of the most popular ways to honor, remember, and potentially work in magick with your ancestors is by creating an altar or shrine dedicated to them. An ancestor altar could be for one or more members of your heritage, or dedicated to all those who shared your blood before you.

If you already have an ancestor altar, consider taking the time to cleanse, tidy it, and make offerings. You might also meditate or attempt to communicate with your ancestors at your altar space.

Ancestor Altars

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Communicate With Spirits :spirit_element:

Draw on the connection you have with your ancestors- blood or otherwise- and try reaching out to them with some Spirit Work this week.

How to Talk to Spirits: Mediumship and Physic Connection

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Explore Your Heritage :scroll:

Have you ever explored your heritage? For this challenge, consider digging into your family’s past- what are their stories, who where they, how do they relate to you? You might talk with living relatives to gather information, use databases to search for your name, or do one of the many ancestry DNA tests to learn more about where your ancestors came from :dna:

Inspiration from the coven:

If working with your blood kin doesn’t call to you, consider looking into your witchy heritage- for this challenge, you are welcome to explore and learn about any of the witches in history who paved the path for us witches here today. Though we may not share blood, we share our magick! :handshake: :mage:

For ideas and historical figures in witchy history, consider checking out your fellow coven member’s entries to the previous History of Magick Challenge :books:

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Ancestors and the Craft :magic_wand:

There are many ways to honor, celebrate, and even draw on your ancestors in your practice. Here are some ideas and rituals that you might use or find inspiration in.

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Astrology and Ancestor Work :milky_way:

Astrologists and fans of Moon Magick have additional opportunities for this challenge with the New Moon and beginning of Pisces Season :pisces: :new_moon_with_face:

Consider using the New Moon’s energies to reflect, recollect, and meditate on your ancestry, heritage, and personal history. You might also consider exploring Pisces and the energy of The Fish for this sign’s intuitive and otherworldly abilities :fish:

New Moon Magick

Pisces Moon Magick Meditation

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:raised_hands: … and More!

The suggestions above are just that- simple suggestions! If you feel called to explore ancestors and spirit work in another way, please feel free to do so! :blush:

As always, all witches are encouraged to embrace their own unique practice with how they explore the theme :star2:

Picture from Pixabay

STEP 2 : Share Your Experience :writing_hand:

Click here for notes about challenge inclusivity

Everyone is welcome to join the challenge by practicing magick in line with the current theme. For lurkers and those who don’t feel comfortable sharing, it is absolutely okay to follow along with the challenge but keep your entry personal. Feel free to join in spirit and do what feels most comfortable for you! :blush:

That being said, please know that if you would like to receive a prize and a public shout-out, it is required that you share your experience.

Getting Your Credit :white_check_mark:

In order for your entry to be counted, all you have to do is write/share about your experience and label it as your challenge entry. There is a lot of chatting here (which is awesome- chatting and discussion are very welcome!) so please clearly write that it is your entry so I know to count it! :pray:

Where Should I Share My Entry? :thinking:

Click here to learn where to share your challenge entry

You are welcome to post it right here- just click “reply” :repeat: to this post and write your experience in the text box that pops up!

Alternatively, you could create a new thread in the forum (doing so keeps your entry separate and is a good option if you have a lot to share)

Note : If you do choose to create a new thread, please add the “challenge-entry” tag and/or add a hyperlink back to this post so that it can be easily found- thank you! :bowing_woman:

Deadline :spiral_calendar:

:exclamation: This challenge will close in 6 DAYS :exclamation:

To join in, please share your experience by:

Tuesday, February 21 at 7:00 AM CET (Central European Time)
( Time Converter: 2023-02-21T06:00:00Z)

(Note that the time zone is CET- if you don’t see your time displayed above, you can use this time zone calculator to check for your time zone!)

Prizes :gift:

For their efforts, all participants will receive a special shout-out and a small prize! :gift:

Acknowledgments will be given in a Props and Presents Post that will appear in the forums on Tuesday.

After the challenge closes, you are still very welcome to post but please be aware that no additional prizes will be given. This discussion will remain open for about a week after the challenge finishes.

:gift_heart: :gift: :gift_heart:

Picture from Pixabay

A warm reminder that the challenges are designed to be very open- everyone is encouraged to participate in a way that honors and reflects their unique practice :open_book:

If you have any doubts about if something is acceptable to post or say, please double-check with the Forum FAQ and/or reach out to your friendly Moderator Team .

And for those new to challenges- welcome! :heart: Know that the goal of these activities is to help you further diversify and strengthen your abilities and to bring together the Spells8 forum family to inspire and support one another in creative ways :hugs:

Picture from Pixabay

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The wisdom of ancestors is there for you
By their guidance and grace, they’ll help you through.
For those who have walked this path before,
Watch over and guide us forevermore.

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Blessed Be! :headstone: :sparkles:


This is perfect! I’ve been slacking on my ancestor work. This will be a great opportunity to revamp my process and share my knowledge. Great topic!


I have Irish on one side of my family, but that part is mostly Scottish, I’ve heard. I have read a lot information on Pre-Christian Ireland, but not Pre-Christian Scotland, so this week’s challenge is the perfect opportunity to do some research! And maybe a ritual.


I really appreciate this option @BryWisteria! I don’t know a whole lot about my heritage and don’t really have the opportunity to expand on my knowledge. So I was a little bummed when I saw the challenge, but was very excited when I saw this as a potential option. :heart_eyes: So thank you!

Looking forward to this!


Weekly Witchy challenge - Ancestor work
Challenge entry - Garnet
:expressionless: :expressionless: :expressionless:
For the most part, I would not like to work with my ancestors.
My Mom is dead and I kinda really want to leave her there. (But that’s personal.)Daddy died so long ago that he’s just a warm, kind memory.
I still can’t deal with the loss of my brother he died in 2018, but someday I will.
Or when I die, I’m gonna kick his a-s for leaving me.

Enough of my disrespect and irreverence.


YES! I can’t wait for this and to see what everyone else does since this seems to be my current area of focus!


@Kasandra, I have an addiction to all things Scottish (though not Scottish heritage, oddly enough!) so I very much look forward to seeing your challenge entry!


Whelp it looks like I’ll be digging into my past. LOL! I don’t usually do ancestor work, so this will be different.


I have an idea for this challenge!


Oh my perfect! :star_struck: Really good timing with the last few challenges & where I am right now! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: I’m excited for this one! :hugs:


image from Wikipedia
Oh, what a fun challenge! In Virginia, of course, family history is practically a religion and I grew up hearing all kinds of colorful stories about my ancestors, hopefully some of them true, such as some famous duels on my father’s side.

On both sides, we’ve lived in Virginia since the 1600s, so the first thing I did was check to see if I was related to anyone accused of witchcraft in the colonial area.

Using the free FamilySearch.org, I was able to plug in names of Grace White Sherwood, the so-called “Witch of Pungo,” and some other names from witchcraft trials but none of these seemed to be related to me.

I also checked the Salem accused, and there, too, I have no direct relatives.

My folks came from England and Wales so I always check out famous people from the U.K.

I put in Pamela Colman Smith (who is the illustrator of the Rider-Waite Tarot), and it turns out I am her 9th cousin, so that is kind of cool. Her birthday happens to be February 16 so happy birthday, dear cousin :slight_smile: And how’s that for fun coincidences!

Big fan of her and her work so I’m delighted to erect an altar to memory at midnight on her birthday.

Thank you, Bry, for another fun challenge! (PS I found out I am also distantly related to Elvis and QEII - try FamilySearch.org, it’s a gas!)


I am glad you have an idea Megan that’s great!

Recently my cousins son was murdered and I would like to remember him! He always had a smile and he was crazy in a way like me. He had a tattoo The Eye of Ra on his face! He was funny and so non judgmental and I loved :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: that about him! Any way I think I will honor him!
So I will make a alter for him!


Okay, so I was inspired by @mary25 entry & decided to go a different route with my entry. I know it’s long, but I got excited. So believe it or not, I only included the most interesting relationships I have to everything under the “witchcraft” umbrella. :smiling_face:

Challenge Entry

I have my family tree up on Geni - World Family Tree & there are “projects” that you can look into & people related to them. So I started searching through them & when I got to the pages with the list of names - I went through & checked ones that have been known throughout history & some that were just interesting names honestly. Some of these relationships to me are:

  • blood relatives
  • in-law relationships
  • a mouthful to say & actually figure out even though they are in writing… :laughing:

The witchcraft case of Grace Sherwood is one of the best-known in Virginia. She was accused of bewitching a neighbor’s crop in 1698. Allegations grew over time until the Princess Anne County government and her accusers decided she would be tested by ducking since the water was considered pure and would not permit a witch to sink into its depths. On July 10th, 1706 at ten of the clock, Sherwood’s accusers tied her thumbs to big toes cross-bound and dropped her into the western branch of the Lynnhaven River near what is now known as Witchduck Point. Sherwood floated, a sign of guilt. She was imprisoned but was eventually released. Sherwood lived the rest of her life quietly and died in 1740. Was she really a witch or was Grace a woman before her time? She was a healer, a midwife, and a friend to the children and animals. Grace Sherwood history courtesy of Belinda Nash

In the Trial of 1706 at Witchduck Point, 10 AM July 10th, 1706, Grace Sherwood, the daughter of a carpenter and the wife of a planter in the county of Princess Anne, was accused by neighbors of witchcraft. Grace was tried in the second Princess Anne County Courthouse, found guilty, and consented to the traditional trial by water. She was incarcerated in the local jail. After her release, Grace paid the back taxes on her property in 1714, returned to her farm, and worked the land until her death at age 80 in the autumn of 1740. Grace Sherwood, Virginia’s only convicted witch tried by water, lays claim to Witchduck Road. Her legend lives on as “The Infamous Witch of Pungo”.

Virginia Governor Pardons Grace Sherwood

“I am pleased to join the Mayor of Virginia Beach in extending best wishes as you work to promote justice in the 1706 “Witch Ducking” case of Grace Sherwood. With 300 years of hindsight, we can all agree that trial by water is an injustice. We also can celebrate the fact that woman’s equality is constitutionally protected today, and women have the freedom to pursue their hopes & dreams. The historical records that survive indicate that Ms. Sherwood, a midwife and widowed mother of three, survived her “trial by water” in 1706. Those records also indicate that one of my predecessors, Governor Alexander Spotswood, eventually helped her reclaim her property. The record also indicates Ms. Sherwood led an otherwise quiet and law-abiding life until she died at the age of 80. Today, July 10, 2006, as 70th Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I am pleased to officially restore the good name of Grace Sherwood. Sincerely, Timothy M. Kaine, Governor, Commonwealth of Virginia”

Grace Sherwood is known today, 300 years belated, as the only deceased person in Virginia to be exonerated.

Grace White is my third cousin 7 times removed; wife’s first cousin’s husband’s great-grandmother.

“This County of Lancashire … now may lawfully be said to abound as much in Witches of divers kinds as Seminaries, Jesuites, and Papists” (from Thomas Potts (1613) The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the County of Lancaster’)

The trials of the Pendle witches in 1612 are among the most famous witch trials in English history, and some of the best recorded of the 17th century. The twelve accused lived in the area around Pendle Hill in Lancashire and were charged with the murders of ten people by witchcraft. All but two were tried at Lancaster Assizes on 18–19 August 1612, along with the Samlesbury witches and others, in a series of trials that have become known as the Lancashire witch trials. One was tried at York Assizes on 27 July 1612, and another died in prison. Of the eleven who went to trial – nine women and two men – ten were found guilty and executed by hanging; one was found not guilty.

Six of the Pendle witches came from one of two families, each at the time headed by a woman in her eighties: Elizabeth Southerns (aka Demdike), her daughter Elizabeth Device, and her grandchildren James and Alizon Device; Anne Whittle (aka Chattox), and her daughter Anne Redferne. The others accused were Jane Bulcock and her son John Bulcock, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt, Alice Gray, and Jennet Preston. The outbreaks of witchcraft in and around Pendle may demonstrate the extent to which people could make a living by posing as witches. Many of the allegations resulted from accusations that members of the Demdike and Chattox families made against each other, perhaps because they were in competition, both trying to make a living from healing, begging, and extortion.

Wikipedia Pendle Witches

I searched for some other related projects, one of them being Metaphysics & within that search was Transcendentalism; one of the core beliefs is an ideal spirituality that transcends the physical & empirical & is only realized through the individual’s intuition. I also looked through some other projects for Metaphysics, Astrology, Witchcraft, the Occult, & a couple of others.

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson - Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States. From Ralph Waldo Emerson - Wikipedia

  • Henry David Thoreau

Quote from Henry David

“With every child begins the world again.”

A descendant of Mayflower passenger, Richard Warren.

Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts on his grandmother’s farm on July 12, 1817 (“Thoreau” 96). Thoreau, who was of French-Huguenot and Scottish-Quaker ancestry, was baptized as David Henry Thoreau, but at the age of twenty, he legally changed his name to Henry David.

Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, philosopher, and leading transcendentalist. He is best known for his book Walden a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay, Civil Disobedience an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.

From: Henry David Thoreau - Wikipedia

Henry David Thoreau is my 6th cousin 6 times removed.

Other interesting relationships that I have are to:

  • Sara Northup Hollister – a major figure in the Pasadena branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a society founded by the English occultist Aleister Crowley. She had a turbulent relationship with John Whiteside the head of the Pasadena OTO & who also married her sister Helen. Sara was a committed member known as “Soror (Sister) Cassap” but had acquired a reputation for disruptiveness & Crowley denounced her as a “vampire.” – Sara is my 10th great aunt’s fifth great niece’s ex-husband’s ex-wife

  • Aleister Crowley is my third great uncle’s first cousin four times removed wife’s third great niece’s husband’s great uncle’s wife’s great-grandson

  • Carl Jung – one of the most well-known pioneers in the field of dream analysis, a Swiss psychiatrist, an influential thinker, & the founder of analytical psychology. – Carl Jung is my 12th cousin five times removed

  • Nostradamus (Michel Nostradamus) was a French apothecary and reputed seer who published collections of prophecies that have since become famous worldwide. Known as a master astrologer, was famous for his healing powers, & also a “seer”. Nostradamus is my 16th great grandfather’s wife’s sister’s husband’s wife’s fourth great nephew’s wife’s father

  • W. B. Yeats – was an Irish poet and dramatist, and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. He studied poetry in his youth and was fascinated by Irish legends and the occult from an early age. Those topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the 20th century. is my 14th cousin 8 times removed & a Nobel Prize in Literature recipient.

This challenge led me to find out some interesting information about my genealogy & ties to witchcraft, the occult, metaphysics, astrology & other different aspects of the craft that have been explored throughout history.


@Amaris_Bane I’m thrilled you like the topic, Amaris! I remember from your past posts about the great ancestor work you’ve done previously- I’m looking forward to hearing how you’ll jump back into your altars/process! Good luck :heart:

@Kasandra How exciting! I have a teeny percentage of Scottish in my DNA chart but I don’t know much at all about my family there. And I certainly don’t know much about Pre-Christian Scotland- I’m looking forward to hearing about what you find (as well as any rituals you might craft)! :sparkles:

@Aurora_Hestia You’re very welcome, Aurora- I know not everyone is close to/fond of/interested in their blood kin, but as witches I strongly feel we have more kin than just “blood”, we have that strong bond of magick too! It’s always interesting to learn about our witchy ancestors who paved the path for us today. If you do decide to explore our witchy history, I’ll look forward to reading about what you discover! :open_book: :blush:

@Garnet Full respect to you, Garnet- sometimes a challenge is about sizing it up, saying “nope, not for me!”, and moving on. I’ll hope that next week’s challenge will be more up your alley, my friend! Blessed be :heart::blush:

@AileyGrey Hooray! I’m happy it’s a theme that resonates with your current work, Ailey! :grinning: :two_hearts:

@Amethyst Something different, out of the ordinary! You always do great even in the face of a challenge, Amethyst, I’m excited to see how you’ll tackle this theme! Good luck :blush::sparkles:

@MeganB Ohhhhh I’m excited to see this idea of yours come to life! Good luck, Megan! :tada:

@mary25 Beautiful reflection on your heritage, Mary, and thank you so much for sharing the link! I opened it up and felt like Pandora and the box haha- there’s so much to explore! I’ve used Ancestry but not this site yet and it looks like a fun place to search around. I’ll have to see if I can’t find any famous ancestors in the list haha. Great work and thanks again! :heart::hugs:

@Jeannie1 I’m so sorry for the loss of your cousins’ son- he sounds like he was a really warm and great person. I think making an altar in his honor is a very thoughtful idea, I’m wishing you all the best with it, Jeannie! Good luck :candle::pray:

@Susurrus I can feel the excitement and inspiration in your words, Siofra- it’s clear that heritage is a theme that is close to your heart! :blush: And how neat to explore your bond with Grace Sherwood, she has quite the story! :open_book: As for transcendentalism, I remember doing a unit about that in school and not really paying attention (shame on me! Haha) but recently I’ve been hearing about Emerson and Thoreau quite a bit- that is so cool that you’re related to Thoreau!!! :clap::star_struck: You’ve got some really amazing people in your lineage, Siofra- how fun to see, thank you so much for sharing! :heart:


I have always had a fascination with doing my genealogy. I remember when I learned that I am a direct descendant of Bishop Hans Herr, the founder of the Mennonite church who “brought it over” from Germanic Europe & then spent years traveling back & forth to bring others to America to practice. That was a fun discovery & there are books about his direct lineage through the early 1900s that I have a copy of too.

I was beside myself when I realized that her side was part of the original colonial settlers in PA & VA so many years ago. I have some newspaper stories & records from then that are just so interesting to go through & the pictures too! :star_struck:

It’s funny because that’s all mainly from my birth mother’s side of the family & it’s fascinating. Still, I am so not connected with that side in a personal kind of way like I am to my father’s side which is primarily Irish :ireland:, Italian :it:, and Sicilian areas. I have a line that goes back to the island of Cyprus too.

Definitely fascinating & some amazing relationships in there that I would never have thought to look for if it wasn’t for this challenge & @mary25’s entry. I wound up in a huge rabbit hole. There are so many more, but I kept it to the most interesting to me & as short as I possibly could but it was so exciting! I actually had to scale it back once I saw how long the original entry was :laughing: :star_struck:


That’s amazing! Those are some of the most interesting people in history! How wonderfully magical. I really enjoyed learning about their backgrounds, too :slight_smile:


Thank you for the inspiration @mary25 :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: I truly enjoyed the rabbit hole! If we have another ancestor-themed challenge I will have to add in some of the others that I found in there when I went through the projects & it tells you if you are connected & how. For some of them, I only listed the blood relations but had actually been connected through a blood relative & in-law which is pretty cool & crazy to me at the same time!

I had to add the little blurbs too for them (there’s actually a lot more information about some of them on the site & then it lists other resources) but the Grace Sherwood White case was soooo intriguing because I have ancestors from there way back when aside from the relation to her. As soon as I saw that area with witch trials, I was like… somehow I have ancestors involved in that… :hugs:


This phrase speaks to me! My husband will tell you that genealogy is my “love language”…I am constantly falling down rabbit holes of ancestry. It looks like you have too! I so enjoyed reading your family history and all the wonderful connections you have to fame. :heart:


@mary25 & @Trixie_Thojrne I have found that to be true for VA & PA… I was given a “Family Bible” which is an original print from the 1800s in PA, this thing is so thick & heavy! I can’t remember where it says it was printed in PA, but within it is a section for family pictures & then there are all kinds of clippings & stories & family lines done within it in the back with events, dates, places, and people. I had put it away so nothing would happen to it by accident.

I have another family tree that had been started even further back & actually is set up kind of like an actual tree with each marriage a part of a branch then their children make another type of branch off of the main branch. I will have to see if I can find that one… also put in a safe place because I didn’t want to ruin it.

It’s really interesting to look through but also a little intimidating because of the age, I don’t want to ruin anything that is inside. I have found some original soap labels from that time in there & others. The family lines go back to the early 1700s & earlier in some places. They definitely kept records of family happenings meticulously!


Challenge Entry

The ship has sailed a long time ago on me digging into my ancestors, but I do have an Ancestry DNA account that at least helped me find a starting place.

According to my DNA, I am:

  • 45% England and Northwestern Europe
  • 17% Sweden and Denmark
  • 17% Scotland
  • 13% Germanic

It explains a lot of my interest in European paganism and traditions in general. I spent a lot of time prior to my “official” witch journey learning about the Nordic/Scandinavian ways of living and in a lot of ways, that led me to actively pursuing witchcraft. Norse paganism has also been an interest of mine for years. So my ancestry definitely affects my practice as all of this has been a natural interest - even before I knew more about my DNA or when I started my magickal journey.

So I used this info to dig into European witches a bit more and found some interesting things. While I was familiar with Joan of Arc, I wasn’t familiar with the fact that she was accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake for it.


I also spent some time learning about the first Swedish witch to be executed (Lasses Birgitta) and the last (Anna Eriksdotte). Eventually that led me to the the Völva - Viking witches, which I found the most interesting in my research.

I found the way the seeress practiced to be super interesting (the importance of the staff, speaking with spirits, and more) and then learned a lot about witch’s salve/flying ointment as the seeds were found buried with a Völva and it tied in perfectly with me learning about a new herb every day.

There were SO many rabbit holes that I went down with all of this that made it super exciting. I feel like this challenge really helped me as I felt like I was missing out on something by having limited information on my heritage. Now I feel like there’s SO much for me to explore and learn from.

Looking forward to seeing everyone else’s entries!