It does not surprise me that I dreamed about an ancestor as I have been engaged in researching my ancestry which I am sure will become a life long project! It is also not unusual for the dead to appear in our dreams for the ancients considered that in the dream state, especially before waking we are more receptive to the spirits of the dead and can communicate with them as we do with the living. Frequently the shades of departed relatives appear to me in dreams and I am very conscious that they are dead. On occasions I have had dreams in which people who I am not aware have passed on reveal themselves to me to tell me the news! This was the case with my half sister in Germany who passed on a few years ago.
Immediately after leaving my ancestor's cottage I encountered another dead person, this time my daughter's maternal great grandfather. I asked him to make an engraving on a piece of wood for me, just a bare outline as I knew that he had good practical skills. When he came back, to my surprise I found that he had completed the entire job for me, not just the outline and it turned out to be a carving of a mask of Odin! At this point I awoke. I am not sure what this all means and I am still processing the information but I will edit or add to this article on an ongoing basis. Any interpretations from my readers would be welcome.
I am grateful to Steed for his helpful comment. Since publishing this short article I was driven by a sudden and restless need to research my partner's paternal ancestry, joining it to my own published tree which is a lifetime work in progress! Her maternal ancestry has already been researched with a line of ancestry leading back to the Volsungs and Odin Himself. I started by exploring her paternal grandmother's ancestry and over several long nights I managed to go back a few generations. The use of census returns can be very helpful in identifying families that you are related to or descended from and can help to confirm an ancestor's identity but the earliest ones available for England and Wales only reach back to the year 1841, the most recent being 1911. They do however contain an absolute wealth of detail in one single document. Civil registration of births, marriages and deaths only started in 1837. Prior to this date you have to rely upon parish records, not all of which have been digitalised. I am fortunate in that my paternal grandmother's ancestry is rooted in North Meols, Lancashire where parish records are freely available online and I am also indebted to the many Wills left by my ancestors from centuries ago as they too are very useful. After reaching a temporary brick wall with her paternal grandmother's ancestry I turned my attention to her paternal grandfather, researching both his paternal and maternal lines and I was surprised to see that his mother's maternal ancestry has already been well researched and I managed to find a line going back to Alfred of Wessex who as we know was a descendant of Woden Himself!
So here we have the crux of the matter and the reason for her grandfather appearing in the dream (alongside my own ancestor) presenting me with a mask of Odin/Woden. This can be no coincidence but demonstrates to us that human consciousness does in fact survive physical death. In the fluid dream state we can encounter the spirits of the 'dead' and other entities, even deities for our conscious critical analytical mind is put to sleep, no longer able to fulfil its 'gatekeeper' role until we are fully awake. Dreams experienced directly before waking linger in the mind longer and are rarely forgotten unlike the ones that we have but cannot recall from the middle of the night. This is what is called the hypnopompic state. Its opposite is the hypnogogic state. I am reminded here that our High Lord Woden is the great psychopomp. He is the great guide of souls between life and death but He has the ability to travel between other worlds and make Himself known even in physical human form. He is the director of dreams and the alterer of consciousness. Often I will ask Woden to guide my dreams using this short invocation formulated by Edred Thorsson:
"Into the well of sleep Oh Woden I wend my way to thee, to learn thy ways and wonders."
I believe it is to be found in The Nine Doors of Midgard but I can't be certain about this! It is a good habit to get into. As I have written before, prayers or invocations are not the preserve of the Abrahamic religions. Before retiring to bed on a night I ask for Thunor's blessing and protection on my household and again this is a good habit to adopt.
The link between the mask of Woden and the grandfather's ancestry is now clear although there are other interpretations, one of which was suggested by Steed. Now I have not yet had the opportunity to analyse this other researcher's findings-it was simply a discovery I 'stumbled' across but it is interesting that I was presented with the mask in its complete form although I only asked for an outline to be carved. This signifies to me that the work has already been done by others. My task was simply to look for and receive this discovery. Woden reveals Himself to us if we keep an open mind and seek Him.