Is there a place for ancestor worship in modern society? For thousands of year many cultures with various beliefs celebrated the people that came before them. With elaborate ceremonies they welcomed their ancestor’s spirits back at special times of year, to let them know that they are thought of and appreciated.
The distant relatives you have never known created the long and epic story that came before you. None of us just appeared, everyone had someone that looked after them as best they could, though as history tells us many things did not go as planned. With so many leadership changes, wars, greed, slavery and natural disasters, life could be very unpredictable. Religious and cultural affairs were the normal state of being; praying, worshipping, ceremonies and daily offerings could help lift the situation in difficult times.
With hindsight from history, archaeology and DNA we can see the trail that came before and can emotionally connect with this. Our ancestors set certain days a year aside to celebrate those that came before. Your life is important and their life in their time was important. It’s like reaching through a portal and appreciating all the things you’ll probably never know. Though you can read and research certain time periods to understand more. Meditation can be helpful.
Honouring the ancestors can be easily done, a mini ceremony as such. Use the cultural norms you already practice or try something new. Maybe a few candles, incense, flowers, fruit, and natural elements set out on a table, altar or shrine. Maybe some soft music, bells or drum might help. Just say a few sentences to your ancestors and sit silently for a while and see what inspiration comes. Then say good bye for now, but leave your beautiful arrangement as it for a day. Remember to blow out the candles. Some people use All Souls Day, All Hallows eve (Halloween), Samhain, Day of the Dead, Parentalia, Sukkot and Obon, plus many more. Choose a day that you are comfortable with. Enjoy this time.
Sharon D Bush
Writer Historian Artisan Sage. B.A. Double Major History/Ancient History University of New England, Australia.