Soldier's National Cemetery, photo by Todd Van HoosearOur beloved ancestors guide us in our everyday lives. We are their family, and they want what is best for us. Even though they are in the Underworld, they have a great interest in our lives. The ancestors want us to be happy. After all, we are of the same blood. However, ancestors do not have to be the same blood. They can be those who share the same religions, trade, or interest that we have. Most of us have had the ancestors visit us in our dreams at one time or another. They also have the power to influence the magical currents in this world. There is a very powerful technique to petition the dead to aid us in spellcraft. This has been done in ancient Greece, Rome, and Northern Europe. It is done currently here in the US in traditions such as Hoodoo.

To petition simply means “to ask.” When we perform petition magick, we are simply asking the ancestors to help us with our desire. We are not forcing any spirits to do anything they do not wish to do. We are not binding spirits, or using energy to coerce them. We are using our will and physical objects empowered with magick to send a message to the dead. In order to do this, we ask our ancestors through meditation (see my article, “Connecting with the dead” for more) to guide us to a spirit of the dead who wishes to help us in our specific work.1

Visit with the dead

Let’s say we are looking for spiritual wisdom. You will need to take a day trip to your local cemetery. Nighttime is always better for this type of work, but if you live in a large city most cemeteries are gated and you will get in trouble for trespassing after hours. Some country cemeteries do not have gates, and you can walk right in at night. This is ideal, but daytime visits can work just as well.

Once you are there, find the grave of an ancestor or family friend. Spend some time speaking with them and telling them about what is going on in your life. The ancestors love hearing the latest news.

Give your offerings to them. Alcohol, food, flowers or a small token works well.

Then the real work begins.

Finding the right spirit

Go into a light trance and ask to speak with your ancestors in the astral plane. Ask them if they can lead you to the grave of a spiritually wise person. This can be anyone. This person do not have to be a monk or a priest to be wise. One of my favourites I have contacted was a business man from the 1880s. He was very successful in business and I was able to use his help to find a job. Another person I used veteran from the 1960s. He was a strong soldier and was able to help me conjure strong protection magick around my home.

Begin to walk through the cemetery. Allow your intuition to guide you to a particular grave. How do you do this? It’s a feeling very similar to dowsing. You walk in the direction that calls or pulls you. This is the power of the ancestor guiding you.

Everyone experiences psychic phenomenon differently, but how I experience it is in my solar plexus. It’s as if my body in that area is clinches up tightly or sometimes like my stomach is filled with energy. Have you ever felt that feeling of being worried about a loved one and your stomach clinches up? For me, it is similar to that. For other people, it may feel like a strong “knowing,” or perhaps you see visions of the grave in your mind. However it manifests, trust it. If you are in a very large graveyard this may take some time. Enjoy the process, and take all the time you need. Do not rush this process

Once you have found the right grave you will need a small offering. The offering can be fruit, bread, honey, milk, or coins. You will know you are at the “right” grave because you will have the feeling of “this is it!” Whenever I do this, it feels as though I’ve come “home” or my body slightly resists moving forward. It should feel comfortable almost as if you knew you would end up at this particular grave the whole time. Don’t second guess yourself. Have trust in your abilities.

Collect graveyard dirt for ritual use

Make sure you have a small plastic bowl and shovel. I use a sealable plastic bowl and a spoon. Once you find the grave, go into meditation and ask the spirit if they would help you in your magick. Explain to them what you will like to achieve. Once they have agreed, dig out some graveyard dirt from the grave and place it in your bowl and seal it with the lid. Then place your offering inside the hole. If there is any dirt left over, place it over the offering.

The graves of the dead is a conduit between the land of the living and the land of the dead. The dirt holds the energetic resonance of the spirit. I like to think of it as the telephone number of the dead. This is one of the reasons why people see ghosts in cemeteries. The dead don’t stay there, they are called back to their graves from time to time for various reasons.

Once you get home, place the graveyard dirt inside a sachet along with any other herbs of wisdom. I like to use sage, tobacco, and cedar. Being part Cherokee, these herbs are used in healing and sacred rites. Every Native American shaman has these in their medicine bundle. You can other herbs if you like. You may want to try mugwort, frankincense, pine, or oak moss. Now, light a white, blue, or gray candle and say something like, “spirit of the grave (use name of spirit). I ask that you aide me on my spiritual path. Lead me to the right teachers for me and people who can assist me on my journey.” Place the sachet near the candle and allow the candle to burn out.

Keep the sachet on your altar or sacred space for at least a full lunar cycle. You may leave it on longer if need be. Trust that the spirits of the dead know what they are doing and do not rush the magick. This technique can be used to find a job, success, love, and health. Usually, if you are looking for love, the ancestor will lead you to someone who had a happy marriage in life. If you are looking for success, you will be lead to someone who had a successful life.


There was a time where I did not feel safe in my home. There was gang violence not far away, and I had a feeling that I was being watched. I went to the cemetery and asked my ancestor to lead me to someone who could help watch over my home. I was led to a veteran who died in the 1990s but was a soldier in the ‘60s. I spoke with him about my predicament and he agreed to help me. I took home some of his grave yard dirt and performed the ritual. Every night, when I asked the sprits and the gods to protect my home, I could see him stand guard. We began to develop a relationship because I would talk to him every night. One night, he said he would return “home” because he was no longer needed. He said he had spoken to the spirits of the area and the violence would no longer be a problem. I thanked him, and I have not seen him since.

Most of the time when I do this type of magick I don’t necessarily see the spirit to the work in question, but they have been known to make an appearance in my dreams or meditations. But they do not have to in order to do effective magick.

This type of magick is very rewarding. You will be learning to have a stronger bond with both your ancestors and the spirit of the dead who is helping you. Let your intuition guide you and you will have powerful successful magick.

Image credit: Todd Van Hoosear

  1. For more in-depth work with the ancestors, check out our Ancestor Work Fundamentals course. []