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

Remembering Those Who Came Before

Today is October 31, and I know some of you will be celebrating Halloween by carving pumpkins and dressing up in costumes. I have to be honest. This holiday isn’t one of my favorites. Maybe it’s because I don’t enjoy being scared, or maybe the appeal of dressing up has faded after wearing amazing costumes daily during my 7 years in the Entertainment Department at Walt Disney World. Although it has many fun traditions, I prefer the autumn holiday that follows Halloween on November 1 and 2, El Dia De Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead.)

El Dia De Los Muertos originated in Mexico, but I’m sure many of you are familiar with this holiday now that it is spreading into other countries, including the U.S. If you are 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 that gives us the opportunity to celebrate the lives of our loved ones who have passed. Families honor their ancestors by creating “ofrendas” or offerings. These altars are decorated with candles, bright yellow marigolds, photos of the departed, and the favorite foods and drinks of the ones being honored. It’s meant to be a joyful celebration, not somber or scary. 

The creators of the Disney/Pixar animated film, Coco, did an amazing job of capturing the spirit and essence of El Dia De Los Muertos. Beautiful music and stunning visuals provide the backdrop for this touching story about an ancestor who doesn’t want to be forgotten and a young boy who longs to connect with his great great grandfather through music. As I often do this time of year, I highly recommend watching Coco to celebrate El Dia De Los Muertos, but make sure you have some tissues handy when you do!

Like Coco, my work with Family Constellations has given me a deep appreciation for the importance of honoring those who have come before. When we acknowledge and give everyone their place in the family, we have access to a tremendous amount of support. It also helps release inherited family trauma and other unconscious connections that keep us stuck. I have seen more miracles than I can count since I was introduced to this work in 2012. To learn more about this one-of-a-kind healing experience, please visit the Family Constellations Page on my website. If you feel inspired to give it a try, you can book a private session or attend a group session. I have two online group sessions coming up in November.

If you celebrate Halloween, have fun dressing up, going to parties, taking the kids trick-or-treating, and all your favorite traditions. When October has passed, perhaps on November 1 and 2, you will take a moment to think of your ancestors with gratitude for all the challenges they met and overcame to give you a chance at a better life. Flip through an old family photo album or peruse old photos on your computer. Light a candle to honor them. Prepare a favorite family meal or listen to music that reminds you of them. Whatever way feels best to establish a heart connection, know that your ancestors will be grateful to be remembered. 

And most importantly, the best way to honor your ancestors is to live a happy, healthy, and prosperous life.

Determine, then, to be not as you were. Use no relationship to hold you to the past, but with each one each day be born again. 

A Course in Miracles ~ T-13.X.5:1-2

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