Honoring the Ancestors

Last week, people around the world celebrated El Dia de los Muertos. Although this holiday originated in Mexico, it has spread into many other countries, including the U.S. If you’re not familiar with it, the name may sound creepy. But unlike Halloween, it is not about ghosts or zombies. El Dia de Los Muertos is a holiday where we celebrate and remember our loved ones who have passed on. Families honor their ancestors by creating “ofrendas” or offerings. These altars are decorated with candles, bright yellow and orange marigolds, photos of the departed, and the favorite foods and drinks of the ones being honored. It is a joyful celebration.

Since learning of this holiday and especially after becoming a Family Constellations Facilitator, I have performed my own version of this ritual every year. This year, I placed a photo of my parents in the center of my kitchen table and then put photos of my grandparents behind them. Since I don’t have photos of my great-grandparents or any generations further back, I selected objects to represent these ancestors and placed them behind the photos. 

Among the photos and objects I placed a few crystals, seeds, and an incense holder. Then I lit a candle in front of my parents’ photo as a symbol of the light they continue to shine forward. Using the flame of the candle, I lit an incense stick allowing the sweet aroma of Nag Champa to fill my apartment adding to the ceremonial ambiance. 

The candle flame flickered and smoke swirled around the ofrenda while I finished up some work on my computer. When I was done, I approached the altar with my hands in prayer position. I spoke words of appreciation to each family member in the photos, and then a general acknowledgment to all of my ancestors behind them. It caught me off guard when a tingling sensation washed over my body during each acknowledgment. It felt like my ancestors were extending a blessing of gratitude back to me for being remembered. 

Before turning away, I bent forward slowly to honor them one more time with a deep bow. Again, the tingles traveled all through my body!

Although I have done similar rituals in the past, this was the first time I felt such a visceral response. Before blowing out the candle and going to bed, I stood with my back to the photos and objects. I wanted to feel the support of my ancestors behind me as I faced forward to the future. To my surprise, it happened again. Tingles danced all through my body! 

As you can imagine, I am extremely grateful for this experience and for the support of my ancestors. It felt both empowering and comforting, especially during these challenging times.

If this sounds like something you’d like to try, you can create your own version of this ceremony. There’s no wrong way to do it. Let your creativity and your imagination guide you in setting up your ofrenda. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you like. Your intention is what matters. 

If you’d like to explore hidden dynamics in your family and break repeating patterns that might prevent you from thriving, I encourage you to consider a private Family Constellations Session. You can learn more about it and book a session on my website

I’ll close with one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned from facilitating Family Constellations for over ten years. The best way to honor our ancestors is to live a happy, healthy, prosperous life. 

May you shine your light and thrive!

Let all things shine upon me in that peace, and let me bless them with the light in me.

A Course in Miracles ~ W-188.10:7

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