Honoring Ancestors in a Modern World

The average person is most likely to honor, or at least consider honoring, their ancestors near Halloween or Dia de Los Muertos, but this can be done anytime throughout the year. In fact, many indigenous cultures have daily rituals to do just that. These practices are based on love and respect for the dearly departed and, in some instances, related to the idea that spirits have a continued existence beyond the earthly plane. Throughout many global cultures, including Asian, Native American and European, the purpose of ancestor veneration is to maintain a kinship with family and community.

3 Modern Ways to Honor Ancestors

  1. Fulfill your potential. Whether you’re a regular goal-setter or shared a lifelong dream with one family member, don’t lose sight of these desires after a loss. The road may be long and hard and require a lot of legwork to get to the best version of yourself possible, but achieving your desired outcome will please your ancestors more than anything.
  2. Do good in the world. Donate your time or money to a cause that holds value for you or a deceased loved one. These acts of generosity will not only allow you to feel connected to your ancestors, but they’ll also elevate your well-being.
  3. Create space for your ancestors. This can be a physical altar in your home, or simply your own being. Creating a physical space can help reflect who they were to you and serve as a reminder of your continued relationship. Personally, I’ve created space by placing photos in my home, carrying mementos, and wearing clothing that once belonged to my loved ones.

You don’t have to be a pagan, shaman, or clairvoyant to maintain a connection with your ancestors. The only requirement is a desire to cultivate these relationships further and to establish some regular practices that will help you along the way.

Featured image by John-Pa via Flickr.