Remembering and honoring our lineage is an important way to affirm the contributions of our families. Learn six ways you can honor your ancestors.
If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people. ― Thich Nhat Hanh
Respecting Our Lineage
Something interesting happens when we remember and respect the line of our ancestors. It puts things in perspective. If we honor our predecessors, we also see others and the world in a different light. Our ancestors are part of the Earth. When you find ways to honor your ancestors, you are honoring the source of life.
When we respect the sacrifices of our ancestors, our conscience expands to include the value of others. When we gain self-respect, then it is only natural that we respect other people, other living things, and of course our planet.
Lo there do I see my father; Lo there do I see my mother, my sisters and my brothers; Lo there do I see the line of my people back to the beginning. Lo, they do call me; They bid me take my place among them, in the halls of Valhalla, where the brave may live forever. ― Viking Prayer
Expanding Our Awareness
When we open our awareness to valuing the planet, we notice some interesting patterns. For instance, many people feel different levels of spiritual and physical energy. Some people are sensitive to the cycles of the moon and some cycles of the Sun.
Those who become aware of the Sun cycles are often drawn to the Equinox and Solstices. An equinox represents a day with an equal duration of day and night. This occurs twice in a yearly cycle. This is our spring and fall equinox. A solstice refers to the day of the year with either the longest daylight or the least amount of daylight. These are our Summer and Winter Solstice.
People sensitive to the cycles of the moon and astrological alignments have a variety of options. These energies are more noticeable and significant when these events align. For example, when we have a full moon on the Winter Solstice.
Mystics and Shaman tell us people are sensitive to these celestial events because the veil between the worlds is thin. So, this is the time we can connect with and honor the line of our ancestry. Honoring the line of your ancestry can be an important aspect of spiritual exploration. This is especially true for those involved in some form of Shamanism, Witchcraft, or Paganism.
The various acts of acknowledging our ancestors will often reveal important personal knowledge. Begin with what you know. If you know nothing about your family, that is okay too. You can still honor those in your family line without knowing specific names. It’s your intention that’s important. Respecting our lineage is a personal rite.
Six ways to Honor Your Ancestors
Remembering our lineage is a way to ground us and keep us from being influenced by the negative things in our culture. It bombards us with negative messages. So, remembering our ancestral heritage helps to keep things in perspective.
1) Create a place of honor or an altar
First of all, the place of honor does not need to be elaborate. It can be as simple as placing a photograph, a family heirloom, or a small trinket in the open where it can be seen. You can set it on a bookshelf, table, windowsill, or mantel, anywhere you like.
Above all, the point of creating a place of honor is to show respect and reverence for your ancestors. Bringing your attention to the line of people that have made your life possible is a powerful spiritual act. Visit as part of your daily or weekly routine, acknowledge their lives, give thanks, say hello.
By creating this sacred space, you can also tap into a powerful point of healing. As a result, practitioners of Reiki use this as a place of centering and gathering energy from their lineage of healers. Be sure to take care of this space.
2) Create your own Ritual of Respect and Honor
A ritual is a sequential ceremony intended to symbolize the spiritual connection. Rituals often include objects on which to focus on intent and actions. Almost anything can be a focal point. People commonly us old photographs, watches, or even key chains. These are things people carried with them and have a strong sense of their presence. These items act like a thread connecting us to them.
The ritual may include reading letters from family members, poems, or sacred texts commemorated to their memory. The ritual itself can be as simple as bowing the head and saying, “thank you.” Or, it can be as elaborate as your own spirit leads you. You can change this ritual as you desire. And, this space can also be outdoors or any place you believe connects to your ancestors.
3) Document Stories to Honor Your Ancestors
If you know a story about your ancestors, write them down. Even if the details are sketchy, write them down. When gathering with family or friends, take some time out to share your stories. Your spiritual family may also include friends and lovers, anyone with whom you have created a spiritual bond.
This bond may also extend to animals and pets as they often become part of our ancestral story. You can even write letters to your ancestors or loved ones. This is a way of honoring the bond. These letters can be saved, hidden, or burned as a way of “sending” them beyond the veil. This is one of most power of the six ways to honor your ancestors because it leaves something for the next generation.
4) Prepare a Meal in their Honor
Prepare a meal in the light of your own family tradition. Recipes are often part of the ancestral tradition that links to the culture of which we are the fruit. Creating a meal from your family tradition is a way of linking emotionally and spiritually.
Commemorate the meal in their honor by saying a prayer of thanks to your ancestors. You may also feel led to create an “ancestor plate,” a small plate with a small helping of each food that you can offer to the ancestors. In some cultures, they make offerings the ancestors grave.
5) Shamanic Journey in their Honor
Often an important first step in the Shamanic journey is to seek the support of your ancestral family. They may reveal their presence in many ways during the Shamanic journey, from feeling their presence to seeing them or hearing their voices. Our ancient roots understood how important this connection is in the continuity of our lives. Respecting our lineage strengthens this connection.
After the spiritual journey is over, we may sense someone or some loving forces with us. So, think of an ancestor you’d like to connect with. So, you don’t have anyone in mind, just imagine contacting all of your ancestors. Journey regularly to the spirit worlds and meet your spirit guides and ancestors.
6) Incubate a Dream
If you’d like to try to contact your ancestors, one way is through dreams. This is a traditional method of ancestral communication in many traditions. Before falling asleep, say, Tonight I will dream and when I dream I will receive a communication from my ancestors. When you wake up, make sure to record your dreams.
Your deceased loved ones may communicate through signs, symbols or other forms. This is an important aspect of dream interpretation. Asking for their advice is one of the important ways to honor your ancestors.
Remember, there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. ― Scott Adams
Respecting our lineage is something important that our modern culture often ignores. We need to remember where we come from in order to gain perspective. When we find ways to honor our ancestors, it reminds us of the importance our lives have on shaping this legacy.
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Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia
Viking Prayer from the movie the 13th Warrior. The 13th Warrior is a 1999 American historical fiction action film based on Michael Crichton’s novel Eaters of the Dead, which is a loose retelling of the tale of Beowulf combined with Ahmad ibn Fadlan‘s historical account of the Volga Vikings.