Marie Antoinette, my distant relative
During my health crisis earlier this year I became increasingly interested in my blood relatives and distant ancestors. An intense yearning grew within me to know where I'd come from in this lifetime, to map where the cells of my sacred vessel had originated, and to trace them back in time over continents and countries. Though I had given thanks and acknowledged my ancestors before in ceremony, and particularly my matriarchal lineage, I was curious to know names and places and spiritual proclivities reaching back. I was keenly aware that the wounds, blessings, celebrations and hardships of our ancestors runs in our blood. It's in our cellular memory. Their stories are woven elegantly into our own. Without them, we would not be here at this greatest time in human history.
So over the course of the year I delved into ancestry records uncovering relatives as far back as the 1600's in Europe and also decided to venture into the world of 23 & Me and do genetic testing. I definitely ended up with lots of information to digest, from Quakers to Shamans to Celtic monks to slave holders to the fact that Marie Antoinette and Luke the Evangelist are distant relatives on my mother's side. Royal blood. Not too surprising to my Queen archetype…. But in the end it helped me to know myself a bit more, and to shine a light on why I'm here now.
Genetic vs. Spiritual ancestors
We all have ancestors -- it's a common thread we all share. It's something we can all relate to, and it's a great starting point to build a spiritual foundation in our lives. It connects us to the fabric of our very existence and brings awareness to the intricacies of what brought us to this threshold in history.
Have you ever stopped to wonder, "How many generations of my ancestors have worked with hope to make my life possible?"
There are also our spiritual kin or ancestors, those mentors, teachers, friends and in my case fellow priestesses, who are near and dear enough to our hearts to also be considered our chosen family. They are the ones who have influenced and shaped us with their wisdom and presence. They have held us in their compassion and closeness when we needed it most. They have shepherded our talents and stood up for our wildness and pure authenticity when no one else would. Whether they are old Hollywood starlets, transgender luminaries, or radical activists, they have a place here, and deserve to be honored just the same.
Samhain, celebrating Halloween a little differently this year.
Samhain (pronounced (sow-in)), also known as Halloween in our Western culture, is the night when the veil between this world and the Spirit world is thinnest. That means it's an ideal time to connect with our ancestors or anyone who has transitioned from this plane -- not unlike the Mexican Day of the Dead (or Día de los Muertos), which begins on the same day. It's a sacred time to call upon those who came before us and honor their journeys, taking time out to recognize their strength, survival skills, and the choices that brought our own genetic lineage to where it is today -- for without them we wouldn't be here. I knew that I wanted to honor my ancestors in a significant way this year with the work I've been doing. Hence, the Faces of Our Ancestors Retreat that I'm co-facilitating upstate on Halloween weekend (I hope you'll join us! It's going to be epic!).
Make Your Own Ancestral Altar
It's important for our grounding here on earth to be in right relations with our ancestors. This could mean doing healing and forgiveness work if there is unfinished business between you and a deceased family member, or just taking time out to celebrate and honor them.
I've talked about creating your own altar or power place before, but consider making an ancestral altar this Samhain and honoring those who came before you this year -- not only your blood relatives, but anyone who has had a tremendous influence on you and helped to shape you into the Beings you are today. Pictures of your ancestors, objects of remembrance, maps, family heirlooms or anything else that reminds you of your Beloveds can go on the altar. Make it a dedicated space away from the hustle and bustle of your life and visit it regularly. Include a candle and anything else that invokes the sacred for you. Be sure NOT to include any images of living individuals.
Claim Your Birthright
Do you hide part of who you are? Do you look forward to the Halloween tradition of wearing masks and costumes?
This year consider doing it differently. If you can't join us for the retreat, I invite you to create your own sacred experience at home. Begin by lighting a candle at your ancestral altar, then close your eyes and breathe deeply. Think about who you are in the world today and know that everything within you is the sum of all your ancestors. Going thousands of years back, the generations of your ancestors all culminate within you now. Think about your own gifts, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, knowing they all came from an original source. Take this time to honor the ancestors who made it possible for you to be alive today.
Take the time to speak your genealogy that you are aware of as far back as you are able to go. With each name, say a bit about their individual lives as you know them. A sample:
I am the daughter of Charles Edward who fought in WWII
and lived to share his experience…
Live your Divine Legacy
I deeply believe that we're here to live our lives as a great masterpiece for the good of all, and part of that is living our Divine Legacy. There will never be another one of us. Our ancestors ensured that we would be alive at this time in history. Don't we owe it to them to reach our peak potential in this lifetime?
As we step into our greatness and delivering our gifts in the world, let us call on them for assistance and guidance. As Christine Valters Painter so eloquently suggests, "sometimes we forget this great "cloud of witnesses" and "communion of saints" who travel alongside us through life offering their wisdom through the veil."
They are there for us, just waiting for us to make contact. Allow this Samhain holiday to transform your relationship with your ancestors and fuel your journey in this lifetime.
I invite you to share below how you'll honor your ancestors this season. Include any pics of your altar or ancestors that you'd like to share and how they've helped to shape you into the human you are today!