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The notion of one or more “spiritual” realms existing alongside the world of our ordinary, everyday experience is taken for granted in almost every religious tradition. One broad area of agreement is that communication between this world and the otherworld is possible. Dreams, which often seem to be experiences of a confused parallel world, are frequently the medium of communication.

One category of inhabitants of the otherworld is the ancestors. Many cultures revere their departed ancestors, so much so in some societies that they are regarded as quasi deities. As beings who now reside with the gods, they are thought to have access to powers and information unavailable to ordinary mortals. Hence, they are invoked to protect and guide the living. Traditional beliefs and rituals associated with the ancestors are sometimes referred to as ancestor worship, although the appropriateness of the term “worship” is debatable. Ancestor worship is especially characteristic of certain African tribes, some strands of Buddhism, Shinto (Japan), and Confucianism (China).

Of particular interest are cultures in which the departed relatives are thought to take an active interest in the affairs of the living. In these societies, ancestors may be requested to help the living with a particular problem, much as one would make requests of a parent or grandparent. Deceased ancestors can intercede with divine forces on behalf of descendants and can provide information—often when the descendants are in a dream state—that will help the descendants live a better life.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
An ancestor of Marmaduke Temple had, about one hundred and twenty years before the commencement of our tale, come to the colony of Pennsylvania, a friend and co-religionist of its great patron.
Taking this rule as a guide, the ancestor of our Judge must have been a man of no little note.
All those minute circumstances belonging to private life and domestic character, all that gives verisimilitude to a narrative, and individuality to the persons introduced, is still known and remembered in Scotland; whereas in England, civilisation has been so long complete, that our ideas of our ancestors are only to be gleaned from musty records and chronicles, the authors of which seem perversely to have conspired to suppress in their narratives all interesting details, in order to find room for flowers of monkish eloquence, or trite reflections upon morals.
But the same worthy person, when placed in his own snug parlour, and surrounded by all the comforts of an Englishman's fireside, is not half so much disposed to believe that his own ancestors led a very different life from himself; that the shattered tower, which now forms a vista from his window, once held a baron who would have hung him up at his own door without any form of trial; that the hinds, by whom his little pet-farm is managed, a few centuries ago would have been his slaves; and that the complete influence of feudal tyranny once extended over the neighbouring village, where the attorney is now a man of more importance than the lord of the manor.
acted upon another principle; and in distinguishing between what was ancient and modern, forgot, as it appears to me, that extensive neutral ground, the large proportion, that is, of manners and sentiments which are common to us and to our ancestors, having been handed down unaltered from them to us, or which, arising out of the principles of our common nature, must have existed alike in either state of society.
A French privateer captured the vessel on her passage home, the flaxseed was condemned and sold, my ancestors being transferred in a body to the ownership of a certain agriculturist in the neighborhood of Evreux, who dealt largely in such articles.
The "Catalogues" proper were a series of genealogies which traced the Hellenic race (or its more important peoples and families) from a common ancestor. The reason why women are so prominent is obvious: since most families and tribes claimed to be descended from a god, the only safe clue to their origin was through a mortal woman beloved by that god; and it has also been pointed out that `mutterrecht' still left its traces in northern Greece in historical times.
1), the reputed ancestor of the whole Hellenic race.
May God rest his soul in Paradise, and the soul of his Virginian ancestor, if, indeed, they are two souls.
And not merely so, but was it hereditary in him, and transmitted down, as a precious heirloom, from that bearded ancestor, in whose picture both the expression and, to a singular degree, the features of the modern Judge were shown as by a kind of prophecy?
Though looked upon as a weighty man among his contemporaries in respect of animal substance, and as favored with a remarkable degree of fundamental development, well adapting him for the judicial bench, we conceive that the modern Judge Pyncheon, if weighed in the same balance with his ancestor, would have required at least an old-fashioned fifty-six to keep the scale in equilibrio.
Your ancestor was one of the twelve knights who assisted the Lord of Estremavilla in Normandy in his conquest of Glamorganshire.