From the Ask Wizards Archives for Sept. 17th, 2008
Q: How do the name and picture of Ancestral Recall tie in to the action of the spell?
–Cody, Burlington, VT, USA
A: From Monty Ashley, Magic Web Team:
Hmm. An oldie, eh? Let's look at the card:
Let's look at a larger version of the art:
Ancestral Recall full art by Mark Poole
Unfortunately, we don't have the art description on file, which is the sort of thing that happens with fifteen-year-old cards. However, it just so happens that I, um, "know" the answer to this question. See the slight glow around the guy on the right? That is meant to suggest that he's not physically there in the vaguely Aztec setting. He's been brought back to the time of his ancestors, and now he's remembering things that they knew.
So that's the connection between the name and the art. Mechanically, this knowledge of his ancestors is represented by getting a few more cards. In the same way that "brain damage" frequently means "discard a card" (Addle, Brainspoil, Skull Fracture, and so on), "learning things" translates to "draw some cards" (directly with Careful Study and Stroke of Genius and indirectly with cards like Collective Unconscious). This seems like a good time to mention The Bake a Cake Example, which describes one way to imagine what cards in your library "mean", although that example doesn't explore the flavor difference between the hand and the graveyard.