In every wisdom tradition, connecting with your ancestors has been an ancient practice throughout the time. But, am I the only pagan that’s disenchanted with the commercialization of the most magical time of the year? Having Halloween, (October 31st), followed by Samhain or All Saints Day, (November 1st), and finally Day of the Dead, (November 2nd) is not a coincidence. These sacred days follow each other in a sequence because the veil between the physical world and the spirit world is so thin. Can you feel the vibration in the air? Can you feel the change upon us?
But all this consumerism with images of ghosts, ghouls, and goblins slapped on every product from home decor, to apparel, to food is distracting from the sacred meaning of Halloween.
This time isn’t about Halloween decorations, this is truly a life or death matter.
Please don’t misunderstand. I believe trick or treating is an absolute must! But it is only one part of a very spiritual time. To only celebrate by trick or treating is missing a huge piece of the spiritual meaning of Samhain, All Saint’s Day, and Day of the Dead.
Why Ancestors Matter:
Perhaps my background in Santeria is affecting my views but the Egun, (Ancestors) always come first. Holding the Ancestors in the highest regard is an absolute tenant of Ifa. Although they are no longer with us in the physical form, you are connecting with your ancestors just as much now as when they still held earthly bodies. Ancestors continue to protect us, guide us, and teach us from the spirit world.
Ancestors help us in the hope that we may break Ancestral Karmic patterns that plague our lineage and elevate those yet to come. When we become our highest selves, we help our ancestors heal their wounds too, because their pain was not in vain. And healing ancestral wounds empowers future generations to stop falling for the same pitfalls.
So with our Ancestral Karmic Destiny in mind, how can we limit ourselves to just trick or treating or bat-shaped sugar cookies from Walmart? We can’t!
How to Connect With Your Ancestors
The following are Transformational ways of connecting with your ancestors and stop the Commercialization of this sacred time. Don’t underestimate how powerful these simple and practical tips truly are. These practices provide healing, deep revelations, and meaning in your family’s life.
1.) Pay Attention
Learning to Pay attention to my Ancestors was tricky at first. I didn’t know what it was that I was supposed to pay attention to. Things like reoccurring thoughts, coincidences, familiar smells, dreams, and getting the chills or goosebumps are big indicators for me to pay attention.
To share a personal example, in 2016 I grabbed a journal. A picture of my Uncle who passed away fell out. I used this journal daily and didn’t even realize his picture was there! Then in my ancestral shrine, another picture of the same Uncle slipped. After putting it back in its place, I knew this meant something but I wasn’t sure what it meant. I called his children, my cousins. Trying not to act suspicious, I told them I was thinking about them and asked how they were doing. I found out that one of them was joining the military. I was able to exchange addresses to write to him in boot camp. He later told me how much the letters we exchanged meant to him, knowing he was loved and supported by family. Had that picture not fallen out of my journal, I wouldn’t have been there for my cousin.
2.) Keep the Ancestors Fed & Included
There are multiple ways to do this. I have an Ancestral shrine called a “Quadro Espiritual.” It has pictures of those who passed away and I keep cups of water filled for my ancestors. Every Friday I tend to my Ancestral Shrine be keeping the water clean and replenished. I talk to them and thank them for protecting my family.
On Day of the Dead, I will make them a plate of food and give them a place at the table with our family dinner. Some call this a dumb supper but I don’t like that name. :-). My ancestors are fed and included in our family’s lives.
There are many ways to incorporate food into a magical practice. dumb suppers are just one example. And the ingredients that you feed for connecting with your ancestors are also significant. To learn more about magical kitchen ingredients, check out our article on underused kitchen magic ingredients.
3.) Offer Light
Another part of my Ancestral Shrine is a white candle. By lighting a white, 7-day candle once a week, I am literally keeping the light on for my Ancestors to find their way home. Sometimes I can’t light a 7-day candle, but I try to always light one white candle on Fridays when I tend to my Ancestral Shrine.
Before I light the candle, I dress it and state my intention out loud. I make it clear who I am, and what I am doing. I state that I’m offering them light from the candle in hopes that they may light the path for me and my family. While connecting with your ancestors you should give thanks, pointing out that the light offered by the candle is small in comparison to the light and guidance they have provided to us. This is but a small token of appreciation.
4.) Communicating With Ancestors
I’ll admit it. At first, while communicating with ancestors, I felt weird talking out loud to my family that had passed. But it’s only because I was being shallow and worried about how I looked.
But today I’m so much more comfortable talking to them. I laugh, I cry, I miss them, I tell them I love them, and I feel their presence. Often times I will get sudden inspirations or goosebumps on my arms. I know it’s their way of showing they care. In fact, I’m filled with tears writing this out because I miss them.
And you know what? Sometimes they talk back. Not literally, but they send me messages in coincidences, synchronicities, and dreams. This is the way of communicating with ancestors. I regularly use dream magic to gain insights into life, and it’s very simple to do. If you want to learn more about dream magick, check out my favorite 4 simple dream magic tools.
But I know that by maintaining them in the ways listed above, I empower them to continue empowering me!
Final Thoughts about Connecting With Your Ancestors:
Again, let the kids trick or treat, and throw a big Halloween party, but keep Samhain and Day of the Dead sacred. And remember, although we may not presently live like the ancient Celts in the direness of what winter truly means, make no mistake, this is still a life or death matter. Our ancestors need our devotion just as we continue to need their direction.
By no means am I pretending to have the answer to the question what happens when we die. But I do know what doesn’t happen. We don’t go away. In some infinite form that my finite mind cannot understand, I know that our Ancestors are still with us.
If you found this to be controversial or in bad taste, good for you. That’s your right to feel that way. But my ancestors, Spirit guides, and Orishas got me. If on the other hand, you are a spiritual seeker, join the Mystic Family Collaborative. It’s a journey together to discover secrets to a magical life.
Love, Light & Reverence,
Maria Mercedes O’Neill