Acknowledging and respecting our lineage is a way to affirm our families’ contributions. Here are six ways to honor and respect our ancestors. Doing so will help you feel connected and grounded.
“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
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. They were more in tune with the environment and lived life grounded in sync with the seasons.
“We have either to progress or to degenerate. Our ancestors did great things in the past, but we have to grow into a fuller life and march beyond even their great achievements.” — Swami Vivekananda
When we acknowledge the sacrifices of our ancestors, 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. We are all linked. The tree of humanity loops back upon itself and intertwines. (1)
“Lo, there do I see my father,
I can see my mother, sisters, and 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 (2)
Learning to Honor and Respect Our Ancestors
If you did not have a good relationship with your deceased family members, then respecting our lineage after they pass is a way of mending old connections. Many indigenous cultures use the Shamanic Journey to heal relationships with ancestors. There are benefits to this process. The healing of past conflicts is a way of releasing burdens and creating good karma.
Healing the past helps us honor people who may have caused us harm. When we can do this, we are less burdened by memories. We may also want to embark on the Journey of exploring our memories. Looking for the positive ones and turning up the volume also helps us put things in perspective.
We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it. Honoring those in our lineage is a way of healing old wounds. So, respecting our lineage helps us forgive the negative things they did and into the future with a more positive attitude.
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 cycles of the moon and Sun.
As we realize the Sun cycles, the Equinox and Solstices will draw our interest. An equinox the 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 day of the year with either the longest 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. Many ancient traditions believe it is the best time to connect with and honor our ancestry line. Celebrating your ancestry can be an essential part of spiritual exploration. Ancestral 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 know nothing 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.
To become more aware of your connection to the Earth, all you need to do is spend time outdoors. The best places are not altered or improved by man. If you can’t go into the wilderness, then gardens and parks are suitable. If you can’t go outside, use a photo of your favorite landscape.
Six Ways to Honor and Respect Our Ancestors
Respecting 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 can be simple. It can be as simple as placing a photograph, a family heirloom, or a 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.
You can also tap into a powerful healing point by creating this sacred space. As a result, Reiki practitioners use this for centering and gathering energy from their healers’ lineage. Be sure to take care of this space.
2) Create Rituals to Honor and Respect Our Ancestors
A ritual is a sequential ceremony to create a spiritual connection. Many rites and ceremonies include objects on which to focus intent; almost anything can be a focal point. People commonly use old photographs, watches, or even key chains. These are things people carry 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 loved ones, but those who have substantially affected your life. It’s anyone with whom you’ve created a spiritual, social, or emotional 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; 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 and respect our 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
Earlier, it is a way to connect with and heal past wounds. It helps us to forgive others and ourselves. We can learn to show gratitude for their contributions in bringing us into the world.
Sometimes people can see their ancestors. Other times, they reveal themselves indirectly through spirit animals. Many indigenous cultures believe this is how ancestral knowledge transmits from one generation to the next. Respecting our lineage strengthens this connection.
After the spiritual journey, we may sense someone or some loving force. 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 or book of shadows.
Some believe the deceased communicates through signs, symbols, or other forms. Our ancestors are an essential aspect of dream interpretation. Asking for their advice is another one of the best ways to honor your ancestors.
“Remember, there’s no such thing as a small act of
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 and respect our ancestors, it reminds us of our lives’ importance in shaping this legacy.
(1) Humans Are All More Closely Related Than We Commonly Think: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/humans-are-all-more-closely-related-than-we-commonly-think/
(2) 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: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_13th_Warrior
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