Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Honoring your Ancestors: Altar Building

We are in the heart of Fall Transition, today in particular is a good day to honor our Ancestors. The Mexican tradition of Dia de Los Muertos is a lovely way to connect to and celebrate the lives of those who have gone before us. They are particularly accessible now and creating a special place in your home to remember and "feed" them can help us keep their love and support alive for us as we enter the dark period of the year. 

We bring candles, flowers (marigolds especially for ancestors), incense and pictures, sometimes objects of our ancestors and may share a little food on the altar in offering. We "feed" our Ancestors by putting out their favorite objects or foods, by lighting the incense and placing the flowers of marigold which have a particular smell they like. We set these things out for them so they can find their way to us. 

The altar is a portal for the Spirits. We set it up sometimes in a particular way to create a stronger connection to our intention. At this time we intend to honor our ancestors, to connect with them and to receive the support and love they are there to offer to help us enter the Winter season and go inward for ourselves. 

An Ancestor altar can be very simple or quite elaborate. If this is your first time creating an Ancestor altar, start small - clean a space to place a picture, a candle, flowers if they are available - these simple things are more than enough to create a space for your loved ones. 

Intention is the most important part of creating anything, especially in our Spiritual work. If you have no pictures or objects, flowers, or even a candle, a simple stone or natural object may serve as a place holder for these few days. Taking the time to connect by just reflecting on our memories, our hopes in being supported by our Ancestors and perhaps, speaking these things while being with the space is a great practice for honoring your Ancestors.

Just as the altar can become quite elaborate, we can also go into our history through learning about the names and origins of our lineage, the stories those who are still living may share, also by exploring the original culture of our peoples' people and perhaps by simply meditating to receive information.

Keep it simple, especially if you are just beginning, a little bit goes a long way and remember while it's good to look back, don't stare, keep moving forward with your own life ultimately.

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