“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 at this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
Honoring our lineage is a way to affirm our families’ contributions. Here are six ways to honor your ancestors.
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 differently. Our ancestors are part of the Earth. When you show respect for your ancestors, you are honoring the source of life.
When we respect our ancestors’ sacrifices, our conscience expands. It gives us a new perspective 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 (1)
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 moon’s cycles and some cycles of the Sun.
As you become aware of the Sun cycles, you may be drawn to the Equinox and Solstices. An equinox represents a day with an equal duration of day and night. Each equinox occurs twice in a yearly cycle. These are our spring and fall equinox. A solstice refers to the year of the year with either the longest daylight or the least daylight. These are our Summer and Winter Solstice.
People sensitive to the moon’s cycles and astrological alignments have various 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. It is believed to be one of the best times to connect with and honor our ancestry line. Celebrating your ancestry can be an essential part of spiritual exploration. Ancetorial connections are often a part of Shamanism, Witchcraft, and other Pagan traditions.
The various acts of acknowledging our ancestors will often reveal crucial personal knowledge. Begin with what you know. If you don’t know anything about your family, that is okay. 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 our culture’s negativity. 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
The altar of honor need not be elaborate. It can be as simple as placing a photograph, a family heirloom, or a small trinket in the open where you can see it often. 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 healing point. As a result, Reiki practitioners use this as a place of centering and gathering energy from their healers’ lineage. Be sure to take care of this space.
2) Create Rituals 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 use old photographs, watches, or even key chains. These are things people carried with them and have a strong sense of 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 ceremony itself can be as simple as bowing the head and saying, “thank you.” Or, it can be as elaborate as your 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 and anyone with whom you have a created spiritual bonds.
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; it’s a way of demonstrating respect. These letters can be saved, hidden, or burned as a way of “sending” them beyond the veil. It is one of the most powerful 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 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 connecting 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 you can offer to the ancestors. In some cultures, they make offerings to the grave of your ancestors.
5) Shamanic Journey in their Honor
Seeking our ancestors’ assistance is a common way to begin the Shamanic journey. Take a quest specifically to contact your ancestors. In this way, they can reveal their presence in your daily life. Sometimes people can see their ancestors. Other times they reveal themselves indirectly through spirit animals. Many indigenous cultures believe this is how ancestral knowledge is passed along to the next generation. Respecting our lineage strengthens this connection.
After the spiritual journey is over, we may sense someone or some loving forces. So, think of an ancestor you’d like to contact. So, you don’t have anyone in mind. Imagine reaching all of your ancestors. Journey regularly to the spirit worlds and meet your spirit guides and ancestors.
6) Incubate a Dream
Another way to contact your ancestors is through dreams. It’s 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, record your dreams using a journal.
Some believe the deceased communicate through signs, symbols, or other forms. Our ancestors are an essential aspect of dream interpretation. Asking for their advice is a critical way 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 to gain perspective. When we honor our ancestors, it reminds us of our lives’ importance in shaping this legacy.
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(1) 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, a loose retelling of Beowulf’s tale combined with Ahmad ibn Fadlan’s historical account of the Volga Vikings.
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia