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.

What Is My Spirit Animal or Totem: The Complete Guide

What Is My Spirit Animal or Totem: The Complete Guide

Embarking on a journey to uncover your spirit animal or totem guide is a fascinating exploration into the realms of self-discovery and spirituality. Rooted in Native American culture and various ancient traditions, the concept of spirit animals holds that each individual has a unique animal guide representing their inner essence and life path. This connection offers profound insights and a deeper understanding of oneself, nature, and the universe. 

In this guide, we delve into the significance of spirit animals and provide you with valuable insights on how to find, connect with, and embrace your own guiding animal spirit.

Table of Contents

What Are Spirit Animals or Totems?

Animals are ever-present in our lives, whether they’re our beloved household dog or the roaming coyote that we glimpse every now and then. Yet, we often lack an understanding of their symbolic nature and the key characteristics that define them.

Traditional shamans believe that spirit animals or totems are revealed to guide and protect their charges throughout a journey. They offer influential insights into our subconscious mind and carry meaningful messages if you are willing to listen. Your spirit animal is meant to serve as a guide and bring attention to parts of your real life that need acknowledgment and exploration.

Listening to your spirit animal‘s guidance can bring a wealth of benefits. By tapping into their wisdom, you can unlock hidden reservoirs of personal power, gaining insights into your strengths and potential. These animal messengers often offer guidance on nurturing relationships with loved ones and seizing opportunities for new beginnings. Their symbolism can illuminate your path, helping you navigate challenges and make aligned decisions that resonate with your authentic self.

How to Find Your Spirit Animal

Your spirit animal is the embodiment of your subconscious mind and, therefore, cannot be chosen. It must choose you. In most cases, your spirit animal will present itself during a time when your mind is relaxed and able to wander internally, such as during dreams or meditation. However, spirit animals may also reveal themselves in physical form, often displaying unusual behavior or showing themselves several times in short succession.

Here are different ways to find your spiritual animal:

Observe Nature

Get outside, take your headphones off, and see the abundance of the world around you. Notice the direction of the wind and the patterns of the birds above you. This step is essential in preparing you for a spirit animal connection. Your ability to find your spirit animal, and receptivity to their guidance, depends on your ability to observe the natural world and identify signs and symbols.

Take Note of Animal Encounters

Be open and attentive when animals appear in your life. Do not be afraid or dismissive. Instead, make it clear that your heart is open, especially if an animal behaves out of the ordinary. Take note of repetitive encounters with animals. Whether in physical or symbolic form, such as an object or an image. Repetition may be a sign.

Ceremony

Conduct a ceremony to call in your spirit animal. Ceremonies may involve the burning of medicinal plants, such as sage and palo santo, as well as chanting and creation of altars. During your ceremony, ask for your spirit animal to show itself in a vision, dream, or live form. Do not question or overthink their appearance. Rather, ask for their support and guidance.

Research Animals of Interest

Research animals that interest you. If you remember the influence of certain animals during childhood, research traditional knowledge or scientific information about that animal. Reflect on why certain animals stand out to you and try to identify traits and characteristics that resonate with you. Explore their movements, interactions with other animals, habits, and cycles.

Meditate

Channel your inner guide to find your spirit animal. If a specific animal keeps coming to mind, don’t dismiss or overthink it. If it’s not what you imagined or hoped for, that animal still bears wisdom that deserves reflection. Sit with your thoughts and use your active imagination for an inward journey. Coax your animal out of your subconscious with tenderness. By opening your heart and focusing your mind, you’ll be more receptive to the energy and wisdom of your spirit animal.

Document Your Dreams

Dreams are often the subconscious mind’s way of processing complex emotions, as well as manifestations of unconscious imagery and guidance. Write down your dreams and as many details as you can remember. You might be surprised to find a reoccurring animal present. Pay close attention to the messages your dreams deliver and to the specific situations in which animals are present. Animals in dreams may symbolize deep-rooted feelings not fully acknowledged in waking hours, a feeling that you find “wild” or hard to control, and/or your most basic instincts and emotions.

Journey

Embrace the process of journeying. The shamanic tradition believes that journeying allows you to view your life from a deeply connected and spiritual state, often revealing your true inner self. Once you find your spirit animal, your journey together begins. Study your spirit animal and its core traits and characteristics. Reflect on why this particular animal chose you and how your spirit animal connects to your own personal experiences.

Express Gratitude

Your spirit animal is a powerful ally. Always thank your spirit animal for their guidance and support. They may help you navigate life, to transform, and to see your experiences and relationships in a new light; in turn, express your recognition and deepest thanks. Like any relationship, a spirit animal connection requires cultivation.

How Do You Know Your Animal Spirit Guide is Around You?

By becoming familiar with the archetypal traits and behaviors your spirit guide embodies, you’ll start to understand which signs you should look out for to know when it’s around you. When you invoke your spirit guide through meditation, mindfulness, or prayer you can ask for it to show a sign. You can also set an intention for your dreams before bed to encourage your spirit guide to show itself to you and provide guidance.

Sometimes signs of your animal spirit guide may be subtle, presenting itself to you in more of a symbolic form, while other signs may be more blatant physical forms. Spending more time in natural environments will undoubtedly help you connect with your spirit guide. Disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with the Earth is necessary to establish this bond.

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