An ancestor is any person from whom one is descended. An individual has a total of 2046 ancestors up to the 10th generation. A person has over a billion 30th generation ancestors. That’s a lot of ancestors. And it doesn’t even include ancestors from our past lives.
The ancestral group soul is the oversoul of all people of a particular heritage. For example, there exists a racial oversoul of all African people, of all Native America ns, all Europeans etc. Within the group soul there are subgroups, each having their own group spirit.
I would like to present the following three ancestor principles to consider:
PRINCIPLE 1: We have 2 an cestral lineages:
1. Our Physical Ancestors – Ancestors of our physical bodies that are connected to us through DNA.
2. Our Spiritual Ancestors – Ancestors through our past life bodies that are connected to us through our souls.
This means we have a lot of ancestors from many different cultures and if we go far enough back in history, it’s easy to understand that we all really are connected. Doing research for this article I read that all blue-eyed people have one common ancestor they evolved from 10,000 years ago. It is also known that all of us originated from a spot in Africa and then spread out across the world over thousands of years.
PRINCIPLE 2: We are our own ancestors.
1. We are the Descendants of ourselves in past lives.2. We become Ancestors when we pass over from this life.
PRINCIPLE 3: We should not only honor ancestors but open communication with them. Our ancestors watch over our shoulders. They are there for protection, assistance, and advice but only if we ask for it.
How to Connect with Ancestors
To open communication with your ancestors, it is a good idea to ground and open sacred space. Then clear your mind through meditation, chanting, deep breathing, shamanic journeying, or self-hypnosis. You can call upon the ancestors for help or guidance, silently or aloud. Learn to “feel”, “see”, or “hear” the presence of the ancestor. To contact a specific ancestor, call the ancestor by name 3 times. To contact an unknown ancestor, command that they be brought forth. You can work with guides or guardians as a go-between. When you are finished, thank the ancestors for their assistance.
A fun way to connect with an ancestor is to create a black and white line drawing from a photo. Then color what you think s/he would have looked like while thinking about this ancestor.
One of the best ways to commemorate ancestors is to create an altar. The altar should be visited regularly and can be a place to sit and converse with your ancestors. An altar is created by allocating a special area in your home and add some of the following items:
1. Photos (do not put pictures of the living)2. Ancestor mementoes3. Altar cloth4. Candles5. Flowers6. Cigars
7. Crystals8. Mirror (spirits live on the other side of mirrors)9. Dirt from a deceased family member's grave10. Small Toys (for spirits of deceased children)11. Food Offerings - bread, fruit, candy, rice, chicken, and other white foods (never salt) 12. Drink Offerings – water, coffee, milk, or whiskey
Monday is the traditional day to feed the ancestors. Leaving the ancestors hungry means they cannot act on our behalf, which is likely to result in problems such as poverty and other troubles. Allow them to eat for 24 hours. Any food stuffs removed should be place outside at the base of a tree.
Best Times to Connect with Ancestors
There are different times when the veil between the worlds (the incarnated world and the spirit world) is thinner than usual. These times traditionally are:
1. Daily: In your dreams, just as you wake in the morning, and just as you doze off at night.
2. Altered States: Meditation, shamanic journeys, and hypnosis trances. If you would like to receive a really clear, strong message from your ancestor in the form of a dream, you can sleep in front of the ancestor altar or directly on top of the grave of a chosen ancestor.
3. Yearly: Winter Solstice (Dec 21), Summer Solstice (Jun 21), Halloween/Samhain (Oct 31), Dia de los Muertos/All Saints Day (Nov 1), and All Saints Day (Nov 2).
People who seek providence from their deceased ancestors practice ancestor worship or ancestor veneration. Veneration means profound reverence, respect or awe.
Ancestor celebrations can be traced back as far as the ancient Egypt when departed souls were honored during the great festival of Osiris.
The core belief of ancestor veneration is that there is continued existence after death. Therefore, the Spiritual Scientific Research Foundation identified the following benefits that ancestor veneration can provide:
• Protection: Ancestors may be guardian angels, providing protection and guidance. They may have special powers that can influence events or control well-being.
• Intervention: Ancestors may be intermediaries between family members and deities.
• Fear and Reverence: Neglected Ancestors may cause disease and other misfortunes.
• Communication from the Afterlife: Departed ancestors may have the ability to communicate with the living through dreams and possession.
• Help in Life’s Decisions: Ancestors may provide guidance when contacted séances, mediums, or Ouija boards to help make important decisions.
Some cultures are more closely in touch with their ancestors than others. For instance, in Yoruba, families bury their deceased in the floors of their homes. Their beloved ancestors were literally under their feet living close to the family.
The Hispanic culture reveres their ancestors with a glass of water and a candle, thus giving their ancestral spirits luz (light: to guide their way), progreso (progress; advancement), and refresco (refreshment). In the United States, remembering ancestors occurs year round and at special times such as Memorial Day, Easter, Christmas, Candlemas, and All Souls' Day people put flowers, wreaths, grave decorations, candles, or small pebbles on graves year-round as a way to honor the dead.
Many cultures have specific days set aside to celebrate and commemorate the ancestors. Following is a list of all the ones I was able to find:
Samhain (so’wen) – Celtic Pagan
Samhain (Irish) is also known as Samhainn/Samhuinn (Scottish Gaelic) and Sauin (Manx Gaelic). They are the names of November in each language. These names all come from the Old Irish samain, samuin or samfuin referring to a festival in medieval Ireland. Its meaning is summer's end. Samhain is celebrated as a cultural festival by Celtic neopagans and Wiccans.
During Samhain, the dead are believed to return to the world of the living so offerings of food and light are left for them. Ancient people would extinguish the hearth fires in their homes to participate in a community bonfire festival, then carry a flame home from the communal fire and use it light their home fires anew. In modern times lights are put in windows to guide the dead home.
Kalan Gwav (Cornwall) / Calan Gaeaf (Wales)
Similar to Samhain, the autumn ancestor festivals in Cornwall are known as Kalan Gwav and in Wales are known as Calan Gaeaf. They also occur around Nov 1.
Halloween – Western Europe and North America
Halloween, also known as All Hallows' Eve, observed on Oct 31, has evolved from western European harvest festivals and pagan festivals of the dead. The custom of wearing costumes came from the belief that departed souls wandered the earth until All Saints' Day. All Hallows' Eve provided the last chance for the dead to gain vengeance before moving to the next world. Wearing masks and costumes provided a disguise that allowed people to be unrecognizable. Halloween jack-o'-lanterns originally were representations of souls in purgatory.
Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead (Mexico) and Finados (Brazil)
In most localities, Nov 1 (Día de los Inocentes / Day of the Innocents or Día de los Angelitos / Day of the Little Angels) is the day to remember deceased infants and children. Nov 2 (Día de los Muertos, Día de los Difuntos, or Day of the Dead) is the day to remember those who have died as adults.
The Day of the Dead evolved from Aztec festivities dedicated to the Mictecacihuatl, the Lady of the Dead. She corresponds with La Catrina, also known as La Santisima Muerte, la Flaca, la Huesuda, la Pelona, Fancy Lady, the Lady of Death.
The Aztecs believed in an afterlife where the spirits of their dead would return as hummingbirds and butterflies. Every autumn Monarch Butterflies return to Mexico for winter protection. The locals believe the butterflies bear the spirits of their departed.
Celebrations include constructing ofrendas or altars with flowers, decorations, sugar skulls, skeletons, candles, bread, fruit, candy, and pictures of the deceased in homes and businesses. People spend the day at cemeteries, decorating the graves with flowers, candles, and food.
Dia de los Ñatitas / Day of the Skulls - Bolivia
In La Paz, the Day of the Skulls is celebrated on Nov 9. It derives from Andeans in pre-Columbian times, who spent a day with the bones of their ancestors on the 3rd year after burial. The skull of one or more family members is kept at home to watch over the family and protect them during the year. On Nov 9, the family crowns the skull with fresh flowers. They make offerings of cigarettes, coca leaves, and alcohol in thanks for the year's protection.
Todos Los Santos (All Saints Day) / Undas / Araw ng mga Patay (Day of the Dead) - The Philippines
The traditions were imported during the Spanish colonial era. Tombs are cleaned or repainted, candles are lit, and flowers are offered. Entire families camp in cemeteries and sometimes spend a night or two near their relatives' tombs. Card games, eating, drinking, singing and dancing are common activities in the cemetery.
All Souls Day and All Saints Day – Catholic Church
November is the month of All Souls in the Catholic Church. All Saints' Day (also known as All Hallows or Hallowmas) is celebrated on Nov 1 in western Christianity and on the 1st Sunday after Pentecost in Eastern Christianity. It is a day to honor all the saints, known and unknown. All Souls' Day (also known as Feast of All Souls and The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed) commemorates the departed faithful who have not yet been purified and reached heaven. Among Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians, there are several All Souls' Days during the year. Most of these fall on Saturday. These are referred to as Soul Saturdays.
Gai Jatra - Nepal
Traditionally, a cow leads the spirits of the dead into the next land. Gai Jatra (Cow Pilgrimage) each family with a deceased member makes a construction of bamboo branches, cloth, paper decorations, and portraits of the deceased, called a gai. Costumes are also worn.
Wag (Wahg) Festival - Egypt
Also called the Wagy Festival (English), Ouag (French), and Uak (Wallis Budge). The Wag Festival originated in ancient Egypt and was their Day of the Dead. The festival of Wagy was celebrated in honor of Osiris, on the 17th day of the 1st month of the year, which is now August 8.
The original meaning of the word Wag is unclear, but a similar word in the Kemetic language means "rejoice." The Wag Festival is still celebrated today with special offerings, candles, and hand-made paper boats. Many also visit the gravesites of their relatives and loved ones.
Fet Tout Namn - Haiti
Throughout Haiti in the month of November one will find celebrations being offering for the Ghede (the family of spirits (Loa) associated with the powers of death and fertility). Nov 1st and 2nd are often celebrated as the Haitian vodou feast, Fet Ghede. There is singing, dancing, and people dressed in black, purple and white.
Chinese New Year - China
Respect must be paid to the gods and ancestors before the people can begin the New Year’s festivities. The head of the family leads the family to the ancestors’ shrine to pay respect. The ancestors will be served their favorite dishes as well as dishes with a meaning. Incense is lit and 3 bows are made before placing the incense in the holder. After paying respect to the deceased ancestors, respect is paid to the gods and the living elders.
Tomb Sweeping Day / Grave Sweeping Day / Qingming Festival - China
Also called Pure Brightness Festival, Clear Bright Festival, Ancestors Day. Tomb Sweeping Day Grave Sweeping Day, All Souls Day, and Clear & Bright Festival. This is celebrated on the 104th day after the winter solstice (around April 5). Respect and homage is paid to all ancestors. Grave sites are swept and joss paper accessories, food, tea, wine, and chopsticks to eat the food are offered along with prayers.
Hungry Ghost Festival - China
The 7th moon in the lunar calendar is Ghost Month and the 15th day is called Ghost Day. Ghosts, deceased ancestors, and spirits come out from the lower realm to seek food on Earth. During the Ghost Festival rituals are preformed to absolve the ghosts’ sufferings and offerings are made for comfort. A satisfied ghost will not harm the living but rather protect them. Activities include preparing food offerings, burning incense, joss paper, spirit money and papier-mâché objects of material items. Joss paper and objects are payments of spiritual debts. The deceased are treated as if they are still living.
Double 9th Festival / Chong Yang Festival - China
A festival celebrated on the 9th day of the 9th lunar month of Chinese calendar where respect is paid to ancestors and elderly. Activities include mountain climbing, drinking chrysanthemum wine, and eating double-9th cakes.
Bon Festival / Obon Festival - Japan
Bon is a 3 day Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one's ancestors. Activities include a family reunion during which people clean their ancestors' graves and performing the dance called Bon-Odori. There are 3 different times of Obon based on locality. Shichigatsu Bon (around July 15) is celebrated in eastern Japan. Hachigatsu Bon (around August 15) is the most commonly celebrated time. Kyu Bon (Old Bon) is celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar in the northern part of the Kantō region, Chūgoku region, Shikoku, and the Okinawa Prefecture.
Jerye / Jesa - Korea
Ancestral rites fall into 3 categories:
1. Charye - tea rites held 4 times a year on major holidays such as the Korean New Year.
2. Kije - household rites held the night before an ancestor's death anniversary.
3. Sije - seasonal rites held for ancestors who are 5 or more generations removed (typically performed annually on the 10th lunar month)
Munmyo Jerye (April and Sep) is conducted to commemorate Confucian scholars and Jongmyo Jerye (1st Sunday of May) is conducted to commemorate kings of ancient times.
Chuseok / Hangawi is a day that people visit the tombs of immediate ancestors to trim plants, clean the area around the tomb, and offer food, drink, and crops to their ancestors.
Faun Phii - Thailand
Faun Phii (spirit dance or ghost dance), a religious ceremony honoring ancestral spirits, is held in rural northern Thailand. It includes offerings for ancestors with spirit mediums sword fighting, spirit-possessed dancing, and spirit mediums cock fighting.
Tarpan and Pitru Paksha – India
When a person dies, the family observes a 10-day mourning period, called śrāddha. A year and 6 months afterwards the ritual of Tarpan is conducted. Offerings of food are made to the deceased, to cows and crows, and to eligible Bramhins. The ritual is repeated every year on the anniversary of the death. Pitru Paksha (fortnight of ancestors) is a 2 week period when Tarpan is offered to all the ancestors. This occurs in the month of Ashwin on the Hindu calendar.
Feast of the Lemures – Ancient Roman
Lemuralia or Feast of the Lemures is a Roman festival of the dead celebrated on May 9th, 11th, and 13th. There were two kinds of souls: the Lares (guardian spirits and family friends) and Larvae (restless and hungry ghosts). The Lares were honored in the household year round. The Larvae were fed black beans (a food for the dead) then driven away with loud noise and violent gestures. The head of a the household would get up at midnight and walk around tossing black beans over his shoulder, chanting, "With these beans, I redeem me and mine!" Family members then clashed bronze pots together and bawled 9 times: "Ghosts of our fathers and ancestors, be gone!"
Dies Parentalia – Ancient Rome
Dies Parentalia was a 9-day festival during which the burial rites of one's departed parents were renewed. Offerings of milk, honey, oil and even blood were made to the dead and the tombs decked with flowers. During these 9 days the temples were closed and no one could get married.
The Anthesteria – Ancient Greece
The great annual festival of the dead was celebrated over 3 days at the end of February. At that time of year the new wine was first drinkable and the Greeks believed that when one kind of spirit is plentiful, the other will come. The 1st day of the Anthesteria was the "Opening of the Jars." The great stone jar was the primary method for storing wine and food in ancient Greece. The jars were opened to pour out the wine and to release the spirits. The 2nd day was Choes, or "Drinking Cups," a day of revels when people got drunk on the new wine. The prudent poured a little wine out of doors but stayed inside, smearing the doors of their homes with pitch to show they were not available to ghosts in search of a party. When they had to walk outside, they chewed buckthorn believing that it repelled unclean spirits. The 3rd day was called “Pots", a day to dismiss the spirits.
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