How to Connect with Your Ancestors Spiritually Through Ceremony

How to Connect with Your Ancestors Spiritually Through Ceremony

The desire to communicate with our ancestors is an innate part of the human experience. We intuitively sense their presence in our wisdom bodies, and it begs the question: can we communicate with them?

Through daily prayer, meditation, creation of art, music, food, and ceremony, the ancestor spirits can communicate, guide, protect, and heal the living. Ancestral communication has been a spiritual practice in every wisdom tradition throughout time. Your ability to connect with your ancestors is always available.

In particular, the days on and around October 31 to November 2 are a transformational portal on the wheel of life. It’s the mid-point between fall and winter, the death and dying season. Therefore, it’s a powerful time to communicate with one’s deceased family members. Read on and receive intuitive guidance on how to create a beautiful ceremonial journey to communicate with your ancestors.

The Traditions of Ancestral Communication

Ancestral communication is an ancient and daily practice found in many cultures around the world, including Mayan, Celtic, Aborigine, Native American, Ancient Greece, Ancient Eurasia, African Tribal, Tibetan, and the Vedic/Yogic traditions. Some major religions, such as the Catholic faith, honor the deceased on All Saints Day and All Souls Day with prayers, candles, incense, chanting, ceremony, and offerings. In Mexico, they celebrate the Day of the Dead (Dia De Los Muertos). In the Celtic tradition, Samhain observes the transition time between the two worlds.

In our culture, we are familiar with Halloween or All Hallows Eve. However, much of the essence and spiritual wisdom connected to these ceremonial days – meant to honor and communicate with one’s ancestors – has been lost.

Through ancestral communication, you’re able to open your heart, experiencing a deeper love within yourself, due to the connection you have with your family tree. Through this practice, people have been able to reconcile deep wounds and karmic patterns that stem back from past life trauma and even issues between the deceased and living families.

Ancestral work can transform the karmas of past generations, as well as work into the current and future generations for healing.

Halloween and The Day of the Dead

These two celebrations are traditionally considered ceremonial days and nights to honor and communicate with one’s ancestors. This is a time to create family altars, perform ceremonies with the ancestors, and lay out offerings of flowers, incense, crystals, art, and food. Halloween or All Hallows Eve literally means Holy Night or All Saint’s Night. It is a time to honor and communicate with those who have taken their spirit walk, ancestors, and the holy or saintly ones. The Day of the Dead maintains the spiritual essence of ceremony, honor, and communication in the deeper regions of Mexico.

Imagine dozens of families from surrounding villages joyfully creating altars, cooking and sharing food, lighting candles, putting up photos of their deceased, and playing music all around the central plaza. It is a very moving experience that observers can truly feel through their intentions and offerings to their familial ancestors.

Elements of these beautiful ceremonies and altar practices can be observed in our modern Halloween by way of candles in jack-o-lanterns, candy offerings, and festivities. If you choose, you can mindfully reconnect to these veneration practices while the veil between the two worlds is open this time of year.

Who is an Ancestor?

The Lakota say Mitakuye Oyasin, “All are my relations”- the tree, water, sky, earth, animals, brothers, sisters, and those that have taken their spirit walk. There is a sacred hoop, a medicine wheel, and a mandala of life. All is connected. All is life, and all have the essence of love. All are children of the Great Mother and Father – in spirit and physical form.

An ancestor is one who took a physical body and experienced the loves, sorrows, joys, and pains of being human. They are your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, great grandparents. Anyone who has taken their spirit walk. Anyone who is in your soul tribe.

The ancestors are the ones who intimately know what it is like to take the human incarnation and share your spiritual and/or physical DNA. They can have great empathy, compassion, and sensitivity for what it is like to be on a personal earth journey. They can provide helpful teachings, guidance, protection, healing, and forgiveness from the spirit dimension. Ancestors may also have their own continued healing work and evolution to do as a spirit and are still considered part of the sacred hoop of life.

There are other types of ancestors, from Territorial Ancestors (aka Land Ancestors) to Spiritual Ancestors. Territorial or Land Ancestors are beings that incarnate on a piece of land and are now connected to the land as spiritual guardians and stewards. Your family ancestors can also be your Territorial Ancestors if you are living/working on ancestral lands. Your Spiritual Ancestors are lineages of spirit beings that your soul repeatedly chooses to work with. This could be Archangel Michael, Buddha, Quan Yin (aka Guanyin), White Buffalo Calf Woman, Star Beings from the Pleiades, or the Egyptian wisdom spirits- the sky is the limit. There are infinite possibilities and a particular ancestor could be in multiple “categories.”

For our ceremony on how to communicate with your ancestors, we are going to focus on your soul tribe ancestors. It is perfectly all right to invite your other ancestral lineages to be present and assist as well.

Why Practice Ceremony to Communicate with Your Ancestors?

There are many ways to communicate with your ancestors and eventually, it may become a daily practice and dialog for you. Simply calling them into your heart and having a quiet moment can be perfect. However, a ceremony can help to amplify the communication.

Spirit is energy and uses high vibration frequencies to access the earthly realm. A ceremony is a high-vibration event. The difference between offering a ceremony and personal prayer is like the difference between playing guitar amplified or playing guitar acoustically. They are both beautiful and appropriate for different needs, but one has a stronger resonance and reach. Just as it is easier for us to hear the amplified guitar, it is easier for spirits to communicate with us using the higher vibration of ceremony.

People have held ceremonies many times personally, in groups, at our yoga studio, on retreats, and with people of varied faiths and beliefs. We have found that most people have an innate remembrance and connection to ceremony even in their first experience.

What is Ceremony?

There are many ancient wisdom traditions on our planet that share the gift of ceremony, and there are many ways to do ceremony individually or in groups. While the specifics of the ceremony may vary, there are three essential pieces that apply anywhere, anytime:

  1. Intention: In the yoga tradition, this is called Sankalpa, which translates to “vow of the heart”. Declare your purpose. It can be a positive affirmation, asking for an answer to a question, or healing.
  2. Attention: Be Present. Or, as Ram Dass says, “Be Here Now.” Get grounded in your heart and clear your mind. Energy flows where your attention goes.
  3. Purposeful: Make sure what you are doing is meaningful to you. When you are in a group ceremony, there may be aspects that don’t connect to you at that moment. That’s okay. Keep your attention on your inner intention and what you are offering up from your heart. When you are creating your own personal ceremony, create a ceremony that inspires you and has meaning for you.

How to Create an Ancestral Ceremony

Once you’ve completed the essential three, now you are ready to create your Ancestral Ceremony and open up the communication lines. Here is a tutorial and list of elements that may be part of your ancestral or any ceremony.

Create an Ancestor Altar

Find a sacred space that is conducive to your ceremony: being outside in nature is highly recommended or a quiet place inside. Create an altar for your ancestors. This may include:

  • Lighting incense, copal, sage, or palo santo to clear the energy and open the portal
  • Elements of nature, such as fire (candle), flowers, a bowl of water, crystals, shells, feathers, tobacco, corn or grains
  • Ancestral Memorabilia, such as photos, personal heirlooms like a ring, a pocket knife, a book, or favorite foods of the ancestors
  • Spiritual relics like your favorite deity, prayer flags, or anything that represents the Spirit to you
  • Rattles, drums, bells, gongs, or singing bowls to open up the portal through sound

Asking Permission and Giving Invitation

Ask for permission, guidance, and protection from the Spirit to do your ceremony. Call in your Spirit Guides and Angels to assist you and invite in your ancestors that you would like to be present by name at the ceremony.

Call in the Directions

Ask the spirits of the Four Directions, Mother Earth and Father Sky, to be present at the ceremony.

Make Offerings

Offer a handwritten letter to the ancestor(s) that can be burned and carried to the Spirit through smoke. Or make a statement to the deceased out loud. Follow your words with an offering of the items you chose for the altar.

Take a Moment

Sit quietly and be in the energy of the Spirit and your ancestors. Focus on your original intention. Listen with full attention in your heart, mind, and body for any messages. You may receive an instant knowing, an image, a feeling, inner light, love, or even words. Or, it may just be a peaceful repose. The Spirit answers in divine time. More may be revealed in dreams, nature, and future interactions.

Mantra and Music

You can choose a song, a mantra, or a chant that feels right to you. It can be accompanied by your voice or instruments of drums and rattles to bring the primordial heartbeat of Mother Earth.

Guided Journey (Optional)

Try a guided journey: this is often performed by a shaman or someone trained in guided meditations.

Close the Ceremony

Close the Four Directions, Mother Earth and Father Sky. Thank your Spirit Guides and Angels for their assistance, and send out a final blessing to your ancestors.

Celebration and Reflection

Share some food, water, music, and/or discussion with loved ones, and record your feelings and experiences in your journal.

Be open to whatever comes. The Spirit can come as a whisper or as a cosmic smack upside the head. And sometimes it comes immediately, and sometimes it comes when you least expect it. What matters most is your intention, attention, and purpose. The seeds you have planted will grow if tended with an earnest heart. Trust the process. May the ancestors be with you.

Learn more about co-author Katrina Gustafson.

Archangel Guides

Archangel Guides

From noted references inserted in ancient texts to featured characters in blockbuster films to recent in-person encounters, archangels have become anchored as fixtures in mainstream culture, both historically and presently, who may be called upon by Earth-dwelling beings seeking support during the unraveling of various mortal experiences.

Angels: Divine Spiritual Agents

According to Doreen Virtue, highly regarded author and psychologist, there are three genres of angels, or ethereal, divine spiritual agents, which serve as messengers between humans and their believed higher powers. The first angel tier consists of guardian angels, or an unexplainable felt presence said to unconditionally look out for the personal safety, happiness, and well-being of individuals.

The second tier consists of angels, of which may be called upon by any person for guidance, in exchange for simple acts of gratitude.

The third tier consists of archangels, who are described as “managers” of all the angels (appropriately named given the prefix “arch” translates as “chief” or “ruler” in Greek) and, in some belief systems, act as stewards for the four elements of nature. Exempt from the restrictions of the space time continuum, archangels are said to be capable of simultaneously answering any and every beckoning call placed upon them by human beings.

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