Connecting to Your Ancestors

Happy new moon and many blessings to you at this sacred time of year when the veil is thinning between our world and the next. 

In my last blog I wrote about how to set up a simple ancestor altar, but now what do you do there and what does it mean to have an ancestor connection practice?
Connecting to my ancestors is so vital to my well-being and to the well-being of my community.
Have you heard the saying-grief is love with no place to go? Well, I don’t really believe that. 
Making space to honor those who have passed actually gives you a place for your love to go. I know it’s not the same as giving love in person, but it may help you feel more connected to your loved one.
However, if you’re in acute grief, this may be really hard for you to do. Just notice what arises and if now is not the time, come back to it when you’re ready.

In the meantime, I invite you to set up an altar to your grief instead. Here’s a blog that teaches you how to have your own personal Grief Retreat.

So, what do I mean exactly when I refer to the ancestors? Well, first and foremost, it’s our lineage. It’s who we come from; it’s our blood line.

Yet it also means anyone who was important to you, including dear friends and teachers. It could also be your soul lineage-those whose work has deeply impacted you in some way. For me that could be Frida Kahlo, Mary Oliver and Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. 
You could also honor the ancestors of the land where you live. I live on Turtle Island (United States), on the land of the Ute, Cheyenne and the Arapaho peoples in Boulder, Colorado. So I honor them by simply acknowledging them in my ancestor practice. 
You may also include those from the animal world, such as pets you’ve loved as well as simply honoring the ancestors of the animals that live on the land where you live.

Now you know who the ancestors are, so now what?

Well, it’s time for you to get creative about the best way to connect with them.
Do you want to connect with them sitting at your altar with a candle lit or does it feel right to connect with them out in nature somewhere?
Take a moment to get clear about who you’d like to connect with. Perhaps it’s one specific ancestor, or maybe you want to connect to a few from either your paternal or maternal lineages.
If this is a new practice for you, it may just feel awkward at first. I mean, I was never taught how to talk with or connect to the dead ones in my family. Were you?
You could start by introducing yourself as you sit before your altar. Light a candle in honor of them and tell them how you’d like to begin nurturing a connection to them or tell them about your altar, and the gifts and offerings you have for them. 
One practice is to simply say thanks for all that they did, the decisions they made so that you could be here at this time on this planet. 
Have you seen that meme that went around where it did the math of how many ancestors it took for you to be here? We come from two parents, and those parents have 4 parents, and those 4 have 8, those 8 have 16, those 16 have 32 and on and on it goes, until there are about 4000 ancestors. 
Take a moment just to grok that…

They all came together to give you life; you exist because of them-all of them! Praise them for this one precious life that is yours.
I say thank you to the ones that go all the way back to where I’m indigenous to the land. So for me that’s Sweden, Norway and Germany. 
I thank them for persevering through tough times and I also thank them for their moments of joy and pleasure. All this lives in my DNA.
I also think about their grief and wonder if it was witnessed and fully processed?
Most likely it wasn’t; grieving is a privilege yet it is also a duty. So part of my work now is to help them process this grief. I’ll be writing more about that as my work continues to be informed by ancestor work.
Until then, here are some other things to get curious about to continue cultivating this practice. 
Where did your ancestors come from? How did they arrive where they resided? What is their story? Who or what did they leave behind? 
What languages did they speak? And what foods did they eat?
It’s important for those of us that live here in the United States to begin to ask these questions. We’ve been removed from the place where our ancestors have laid in the earth for centuries. 
This creates a feeling of being lost. 
And for me it brings up grief. I recently met someone from Ireland and they named that they live on the land where their family has lived for thousands of years. I suddenly had a visceral experience of deep grief that I had never known before. 
So doing this ancestral work helps us to reconnect with our stories, it helps us feel more connected and thus, we come to a better sense of belonging.
My work with Elder Malidoma Somé inspired me to begin this process of connecting more with my ancestors. I’ve also learned from Daniel Foor as well as my new teacher Myranda Wakínyan Wówakha Hinhán of the Sacred Way Mystery School. 

Let me know how this resonates for you.
This is where my work is going as I dive deeper into my own ancestral curiosities. And I’m honored to share with you along the way.