Deepening our Connection with Spirit through Ancestral Ties
October is a special time. It’s a period of transformation from summer to autumn, a slowing down of our pace and deepening of our attention as we move from expansion to contraction.
We can observe this happening around us as nature changes her expression from effusive rainbow colors to the grounding shades of gold, red, orange and brown. We feel this within as we begin to yearn for warmer layers against the chill in the air while the skies turn various shades of gray, drawing us into reflection.
As we approach the end of the month there are many traditions that come into play. Halloween or Samhain has always been a magickal (pun intended!) time for me and my family, especially as the passage of time has claimed some of our loved ones along the way into the next dimension of existing. I can sense the energy stirring as the veil grows thinner; Spirit gets more and more excited with all of the ancestors preparing to make their journey back home to the loved ones still in the living. For many years we participated in recounting stories of our missed loved ones on the night before, followed by the handing out candy to the neighborhood children on the night of Samhain. However, last year was the first time I observed this holiday on my own after moving across the country. I decided to create an ancestral dinner in honor of my loved ones coming in to visit on this sacred day.
Taking some notes from the Day of the Dead and adding some personal touches, it went a little something like this:
Flowers like daisies or marigolds for table altar decoration.
The favorite known dishes of each relative. I had to do some digging on this and ask my mom a bunch of questions, to which her suspicion grew until I explained what I was doing.
Pandora music player to look up favorite artists and musical preferences of my ancestors.
Candles to light the way back home.
Incense to burn afterwards, sending the intentions beyond the veil.
As I cooked and assembled each dish, I cast a sacred space and proceeded to address out loud each of my relatives in turn. I worked my way from the back to the front; meaning the oldest ancestors to the most recently departed. I went back about 3 generations since that was the most information I was able to get a hold of at that time. When each dish was finished, I spooned some of it out onto a plate and surrounded it with some dried herbs such as rose petals or lavender and set some lighted candles out. I then also created a plate for myself with some of the foods I cooked for each relative. When everything was set up and ready to eat, I sat at the table and thanked each of my ancestors for attending the feast that I created in their honor.
Next was the music. For the third generation, my great-grandmother Gussie, Italian-styled songs were in order as she was the first generation to have lived in the United States. We sat and ate together, speaking about the family and I shared my wish that I could have known her before she left the earth. This continued with the female ancestors on my mother’s side, followed by the male ancestors on my mother’s side as well. Then I worked my way over to my father’s side of the family. I was only familiar with my grandmother on my father’s side, Grandma Pope. As I spoke to her and got ready to change the music it literally stopped! I had been playing ballroom dancing music for my grandmother on my mother’s side but I forgot that Grandma Pope had been Baptist and deeply religious! So I respected her wishes and we ate together in peace, catching up on family affairs and remembering her kindness when she was alive.
At the end of the feasting and remembering, I burned some frankincense and thanked everyone again for joining me. I truly felt a “full house” in my place; filled with love, joy and gratitude for the ability to share the energetic space on Samhain. If you choose to mix things up a bit this year and invite your relatives in from the other side, I send you blessings and light!
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