Updated: Nov 25, 2021
My love of Mexico and my work with Family Constellations has inspired me to celebrate The Day of the Dead (Dia de Los Muertos) at home tomorrow. This holiday originates from Mexico to honor our ancestors. It’s believed that at this time, the “veil” between the realm of ancestors and the living is thin, allowing precious moments to connect with them by receiving their blessings and/or any messages they have for us. It’s a festive day with parades, dancing, food, decorating altars and visits to the cemetery. (The movies Coco and The Book of Life both beautifully capture the Mexican culture and tradition.)
Fortunately, it’s also possible to connect with your ancestors through the work of Family Constellations. Either way, your ancestors yearn to be remembered and seen. When we lack this relationship with our ancestors, it makes it difficult for them to pass on their ancient wisdom and the gifts from your lineage onto you. When you think about it, it’s pretty remarkable. Your ancestors have survived starvation, poverty, wars, loss, heartache and many other tragedies and traumas to carry on a life force to bring you here to this present day. Sometimes I think, “That’s a lot my ancestors went through so I can sit outside on a beautiful day in California drinking my four dollar latte.” :P However, it is not unlike many parents who work tirelessly and make sacrifices because they want the best for their child— wishing them a good life, happiness, and/or resources to survive despite external circumstances.
As young children, we take what our parents give. We take it all in. As adults, we can humbly take the gifts that have been handed down from our lineage and use them for our highest good— to be in service to humanity, which will be in service to our future generation (including our planet). Various studies have shown that trauma can be passed down three to seven generations. But so can healing.
Sometimes we carry unnecessary burdens of our ancestors out of loyalty or duty (in the name of love). We might notice this in our lives, such as an issue / problem that does not go away. We and members of our family may get inflicted or “haunted” by it in the form of a recurring trauma over many generations (ie. addiction, relationship issues, medical conditions, financial difficulties, childhood trauma, victim/perpetrator dynamic). When we forget our ancestors, they often find a way to try to "be remembered" and "seen" by showing up in our lives in this way. Ancestral work allows generational trauma to be released with dignity.
If you'd like to start connecting with your ancestors, try creating a home altar. Here's a simple way.
1. Find photos of your ancestors. If you don’t have any; you were adopted; or you are unsure about who your ancestors are, find representations of your ancestors. It could be a drawing that depicts people from your country (ie. from a children's book); an artifact from your ancestors; or something from nature. You'll want to choose something that you can connect with.
2. Find a place in your home to create your altar. Take time to clean and purify the space and make it special.
3. You now have these honored guests in your home! Just as you would greet the people and pets in your home, greet your ancestors. Create a relationship with them by placing offerings of flowers, fruit, meditating with them, etc. As needed, ask for their guidance and support. The answer may show up in your dreams, as a thought, or through other signs and channels (ie. the store clerk saying something "random" to you that turns out to be meaningful).
4. Thank and bless your ancestors. Treat them with respect, and humility.
HAPPY DAY OF THE DEAD!