Questions to Ask Your Ancestors

Questions to Ask Your Ancestors

The life-death-life cycle is held within us and our ancestors. 


What happens when we invite them into our lives? I’m Addie Broyles, a writer and tarot reader in Austin, who also practices ancestral healing. I work with folks who want to connect on a deeper level with the people who came before, as well as the chosen ancestors, the people who loved on you and made you feel whole. 

I started doing this work when my grandmother was dying and I realized that the stories she held would soon be lost with her. I started paying closer attention to what she was saying, and the clues ultimately led to an ancestry trip in 2015 with my sister to an island in the middle of the Baltic Sea where our great-great grandmother was born in 1855. 

The spiritual transformation of that trip led me to explore other practices, including tarot, to foster this transdimensional connection. This ancestral healing is something I bring to my writing, my podcasts and my quilts. In this month’s Wise Skies membership workshop I shared more about how to start an ancestral healing practice and why it’s ultimately a form of transformative justice. 

As we bring a gentle form of curiosity into questions about how people lived, why they made the decisions they did and how we might accept them now, including their flaws, we practice “calling people in” instead of “calling people out.” 


This is critical work as we, the collective, imagine a kind and more equitable future for all. If you’ve ever like a bridge between the past and the future, this members-only workshop for you. 

Ancestral Connection Activity

List five people who love or loved you unconditionally (living or dead). Alternatively, you can name five people in your family tree who you want to know more about or have a deeper connection with. (You can also name chosen ancestors, or people you are not related to but with whom you share this feeling. It’s OK, if you don’t know them. Your favorite author/teacher can be on this list.) 

For each person, write something you admire in them and wish you could tell them. It’s OK if you don’t know much about them. 

For each person, write down something special that they would see in you today, if you know or knew them. For the people you haven’t met, imagine what they would say to you if they could see you right now. What encouragement or life insight might they have for you?

For each person, imagine their greatest grief. Write it down. Then, think about one of their life’s highlights. Imagine how they felt in both situations. Allow yourself to feel compassion for them in their highest and lowest moments and as their best and worst selves. Then turn that love back on yourself. Offer a heart hug to the inner child of your loved one who might not have had that kind of love in their lives. 

If desired, meditate for a few minutes and then pull a tarot card asking for insights into these new relationships. 

Check back in with these ancestors if you enjoyed how you felt being in this kind of connection with them. You might even pull out a photo of them, put their birthday or death day on your calendar or start planning a trip to learn more about them.

“Ancestral Tarot is one of the most powerful ways to connect your grief with your growth.” Tiffany Harelik

Addie Broyles is a longtime food writer, podcaster and Missouri native who is now raising two boys in Austin, Texas.
Don’t Fear the Death Card is the name of her ancestral healing service, which includes 1:1 coaching, tarot readings, workshops, classes and community events.

Tiffany Harelik