Ancestor worship* is a common practice in Heathenry and many types of Reconstructionism, but I have noticed an interesting thing; people like to worship the ancestors that they liked and are quick to repudiate those they did't. I'm not talking about ancestors who genuinely deserve to be disowned, which a serious matter but does occasionally happen, I mean the ones we just don't like, the ones who weren't nice people, who were difficult, or who struggled with personal demons. Of course it's easy to honor our ancestors who we perceive to be good people, and it's hard to find the worth in those whose flaws are written large in our memory. I think we forget though that even the ancestors we like were not perfect and those we are so quick to reject often have value if we look for it.
I have two paternal grandfathers; one of blood and one of love. My stepgrandfather was my grandmother's third husband and, I believe, the love of her life, a man my father considered his Dad, but that's another story. My biological grandfather was my grandmother's second husband, the son of a German immigrant and an Irish immigrant. He was a mean drunk who, according to my father, threw fists, words, and dinnerware with equal viciousness. He spent most of his money on his beer and his own food, making my grandmother fix him steak and potatoes for dinner while she and the 7 children sat and ate whatever the church food pantry had to spare for them. Having said that I am sure there are at least some people out there who are reading this and thinking that they would never honor such an ancestor, and some who may even be thinking they would never speak of him and let his memory be forgotten.
I may not raise a horn to him but I do include his picture on my ancestor altar and I include him in the general offerings and attention that my ancestors, collectively, get for three reasons. Firstly, my father maintained a cordial relationship with his biological father until my grandfather's death and I do not believe its up to me to decide to cut off an ancestor I never knew based on his flaws when my father never did so during his life. Secondly, my grandfather was not wholly bad. He had a strong sense of loyalty and family, even if he didn't treat them well when he was drinking. When he met my grandmother she was a 19 year old with two small children from a man who had decided to abandon his family to seek greener pastures. He loved her, married her, and adopted her children; in his life he never treated them any different than the 5 children he and my grandmother had together. From what everyone in the family says as far as he was concerned my eldest uncle and aunt were his children. He also had an indomitable will. At one point in his life he owned a small grocery store; when closing up one night, as he turned to lock the door, a man who meant to rob him stabbed him in the back with a meat cleaver, opening a wound from shoulder to hip. My grandfather turned and fought back, forcing the man to run away; he was able to get help for himself which probably saved his life (I often wonder if this incident was a major factor in his drinking problem). I have a lot of respect for anyone that can fight through that type of injury in the moment and who has that strength of will.
My third reason is less personal to my grandfather and more general, but its the reason I chose my paternal grandfather as an example. No ancestor is perfect and I think we do ourselves a disservice to think we can cherry pick the "good ones" based on our own limited information about people's lives. The reality is we never know more than a fraction of a person's story, especially those who died before we were born or when we were very young. Certainly if we know for a fact that an ancestor did something deserving of being cut off, and we have no doubt that there were no extenuating circumstances or other mitigating factors than we may choose to cut them off from our memory. Families are complicated things and what exactly would qualify as across that line will be different for all of us - my grandmother cut off her biological mother after her mother abandoned the family (leaving my 9 year old grandmother to care for her 4 younger siblings); to this day she will not even tell anyone her mother's name or anything about her. She made a choice to totally cut her mother out of her memory, and consequently the memory of subsequent generations, and to me that is a very serious thing to do. My grandmother did it based on direct experience with the person; on the other hand my father took the other road and kept the relationship. I choose to respect the choices of those who actually knew the people when they were alive. I don't believe that I should cut off an ancestor, in death, who was not cut off in life, or conversely to reconnect to one who was.
When I look at the strengths and weaknesses of my family, living and dead, I see things in all of them that can be remembered with pride and things that are, at best, warnings for future generations. Even the ancestors that I love best have flaws, and when I think of myself and how I will be remembered I hope that my children and their descendants don't just pass on the good stories but also the balancing points. Ancestors may be dead, but they are still family, with all the attendant imperfections.
*Worship: 2: reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power;also : an act of expressing such reverence