Rituals to honor our ancestors are practiced in cultures around the world. Each of us comes from something, or someone, else, and it’s a natural human trait to want to know our history and pay tribute to those who came before us. Although special days in different cultures (such as Dia de los Muertos, Samhain, or the Obon Festival) are observed to specifically commune with our ancestors, it’s important to make these rituals a daily part of our lives.
Probably the most important connection we have to our ancestors is that of guardianship. Our loved ones (and even pets) who have passed on look after us even after they are gone. In fact, some of your guardians may be people you have never met in the physical world! They have a lifetime of wisdom to share with us along with the lessons they have learned in the afterlife. Communicating with them can take many forms: prayer, meditation, free journaling or drawing…the possibilities are endless. If you receive “synchronicity” in your own life, such as your favorite song playing at just the right time, or the smell of your loved one’s perfume, these are examples of the ways they send messages to us.
A good way to keep a loved one’s memory strong while honoring their life is to keep a tribute altar (in Spanish, an ofrenda). This can include pictures of the person, personal effects, or offerings of their favorite foods, along with candles or incense. Meaningful days (Days of the Dead, anniversaries of birth/death) are excellent times to honor relatives, though any day is suitable. You may also choose to visit the person’s gravesite or other place of rest. If you are honoring someone you don’t remember well or never met, ask them to speak to you in their own words. Including older family members in these ceremonies is a perfect generation-bridging activity and may help spark happy memories of the loved one who has passed.
Many people today also choose to research their family’s history through genealogy or ancestry research. Keep in mind if you do this that not every ancestor discovered may have had a happy ending or a pleasant life. We, the living, can also honor these ancestors by helping them find peace in the afterlife. Try writing a letter or postcard, dedicating a special crystal, or making a piece of art to honor their memory. The more we get to know them, the greater insight we will have into ourselves and the story of our families.
Of course, the greatest honor we can give our ancestors is keeping their memories alive. Keeping family traditions alive-your grandmother’s soup recipe, your uncle’s football game day rituals-connects the generations. If you don’t know where to start, look through a family album or home movies. Better yet, sit down with a senior member of your family and talk about ancestors. As a Latino proverb goes, unless we know where we come from, we cannot know who we are. Each of us has many ancestors who watch over us and are waiting to share their accumulated wisdom.
Author: Mystic Shelley http://bestamericanpsychics.com/listing/mystic-shelley