Saraswati Dharma Coaching

Six Ways to Feed the Ancestors

One of the biggest questions I hear from my clients is:

How do I connect with the ancestors?

This is especially valuable during times of grief and loss, but the ancestors are also vital for the dharmic path. Most people are unaware of the support that Spirit and the ancestors can offer during life challenges and for life path clarity. We often forget that the well ancestors are here to help us and guide us.

When a loved one transitions to Spirit, they are available to support us in ways that were not possible when they were in human form.

So often though, we attach our human experiences to our relationships with our ancestors. Because of resentments, challenges, the hard parts of that relationship dynamic, we may resist connecting with this person even when they move to the Spirit world. It’s an important part of the grief journey in fact- to identify and honor the human feelings, while also making space for something new to arrive. In this process of releasing undigested emotions, a new possible relationship can form with Spirit.

Resisting and avoiding these undigested emotions that are an inevitable part of the relationship, will keep you from being able to connect with the ancestors.

This is the main reason why so many people do not feel connected to their ancestors at all. The resistance or avoidance to the grief, challenging emotions, painful memories, wounds and lineage traumas, can result in a severing and avoidance of the ancestral connection. This is a powerful reason to attend to your grief diligently and to use it as a resource for healing.

When we honor our emotional body- all of it- we also honor our humanity. Clearing, releasing and attending to the feelings, emotions and grief that come with the territory of relationships, also helps create space for the new. If the body is clogged with undigested grief and emotions, then there will literally be no space for something else to arrive.

Releasing the grief allows new life to flow, as well as greater resiliency to arrive. Clearing grief from the bodies, allows space for Spirit to arrive, and also supports the possibility of building a relationship with the ancestors. When we lose the connection with our ancestors, we also lose the thread of dharma, legacy and the powerful resources that create the fabric of the family line.

Remember that the human relationship with your ancestors is not the whole story.

We must attend to the human parts, while also holding space for Spirit. Once a loved one merges with Spirit, they can become an ally, a support- in ways that weren’t possible when they were in human form. There is in fact an opportunity to create a new relationship with them after they drop the confines of the body container. Connecting with the ancestors allows us to build a new relationship with those in Spirit- even if we had a challenging relationship with them while they were a human, or even if we had no connection with them at all.

Your willingness to be honest with your feelings, grief, emotions and personal mythology, is a gateway to clearing, healing and releasing the wounds, trauma and challenges that are hidden in your lineage.

The ancestors are not living and therefor can not change, transform or evolve- not without your help. You are the thread that helps them move forward. You are the living being that can help the lineage change, transform and grow. Your healing journey and dharmic path are crucial to the transformation of your ancestors and family line. If you choose to not do your dharmic work, to resist your life purpose and the healing necessary for that to take form, it will seriously impact the lineage and the growth of the ancestors.

Dharma is the most powerful way to honor the ancestors.

From a Vedic perspective, there is nothing higher than dharma. In fact, that is the only reason you incarnated into a human body. Yet most people who arrive in a human body never fully align with their life path or life purpose in their life time. Sadly, the obstacles, fears, illusions and obstructions to the path keep most people from fully embracing their dharma.

Unfortunately this resistance to dharma negatively impacts the ancestors as well. Adharma, that which is against dharma, perpetuates ignorance and suffering. The healing, growth and vitality of the family lineage decays when dharma is lost. Generations of undigested emotions, unprocessed grief and trauma, has resulted in the loss of dharma globally.

These days it is very challenging to align with ones dharma.

My definition of dharma is one that requires reciprocity and wholeness. By awakening and sharing your gifts, wisdom and purpose with the world, you are healing yourself, your lineage and others in the process. This requires great diligence and self reflection. It is not a path that everyone chooses to take, or even realizes is available to them. The connection to the ancestors is also weakened when adharma sets in. This is why the path of healing is necessary to awaken one’s gifts, purpose and the wisdom within one’s lineage.

Remember that it is also the time of Kali Yuga in the Vedic Calendar. This is a time of great decay and chaos. Dharma is almost non-existent. Finding one’s path is a miraculous feat. However, it is said, that if and when you are able to align with your dharma, you will have an easier time becoming fully awakened and enlightened. Dharma and awakening go hand in hand.

Building a relationship with the ancestors is vital for healing and transformation.

A relationship with the ancestors is also extremely important for strengthening one’s dharmic path. The ancestors are here, ready for you to ask them for support, resources and guidance. They truly want a relationship with you. The ancestors can come in many forms, through multiple experiences, and arrive in a variety of ways. Sometimes you will feel their presence, other times they will arrive through imagery. Often my mother and father send message to me through owl and hawk medicine. You will come to realize their messages the more you invite it into your life. Remember that Nature might also share ancestral wisdom with you. A message from the ancestors could arrive through the physical, mental, emotional or spiritual bodies. Listen carefully.

There are well ancestors and unwell ancestors. Guides and helping spirits. Animal guides and Nature spirits. The ancestral pool of all ancestors, as well as your personal lineage. There are helpful ancestors and mischievous ones. We want to be clear about what ancestors we are choosing to connect with. It is also important to let them know what is acceptable to you and what is not.

I remember one of my teachers sharing a powerful reminder about setting boundaries and intentions with the ancestors. Dagara elder, Sobonfu Some, said that she would often yell and curse at her ancestors, then starve them for days if she was angry at them. Don’t forget that you are in charge of the relationship! Let them know how you feel- whether it’s anger, rage, sadness, grief, joy or gratitude. Your emotions are like food to them. They eat it, compost it, return it to pure energy. Your job is to acknowledge it and release it. Keep your emotional body moving, flowing and dancing like a river.

Building a relationship with the ancestors is like any other relationship.

It requires diligence, consistency, presence, and willingness. In order to strengthen the connection to your ancestors, you must be willing to feed them regularly. I suggest feeding them daily and creating rituals to support this process.

Here are six ways to feed your ancestors and strengthen the connection you have with them:

1) Create an altar or shrine dedicated to the ancestors.

Create this altar facing east if possible (so you are facing east when you look at it). East is the direction of the dawn and the intention is to bring light to your self and your lineage. Gather items that remind you of your ancestors to place on the shrine. Statues, photos, mementos, offerings from Nature, etc. Place something living on the altar- like a plant. A bowl of spring water (preferably) and sea salt can help clear blockages within the emotional body. Refresh this water regularly and never let it stagnate. Bring offerings to your altar consistently and thank the ancestors for their wisdom. Light a candle, burn palo santo and invoke your intention to connect with the ancestors regularly. Remember to keep this altar clean. Do not create this altar in your bedroom, bathroom or kitchen. Find a common living space or create it outdoors.

2) Bring offerings of food.

Cooking and feeding the ancestors a portion of your meals is one of the most precious ways I like to connect with my ancestors. This is a powerful symbol of gratitude, honoring and literally connecting with your ancestors through the quality of life force. As you cook your meals each day, put a small amount of your food in a bowl and place it on your altar. Let your ancestors know why you are feeding them- what you are grateful for and what needs you have. Do not let this food sit longer than 24 hours. Once the ancestors have been sufficiently fed, compost the food, let it return to Nature, or feed it to an animal companion. You can also eat the food yourself as a way to imbibe the spirit of the ancestors.

3) Grief Rituals.

Attending to your grief is one of the most important parts of building a relationship with the ancestors. Your emotions are like food for them. They receive your grief and eat it like food. They are hungry for your grief, craving it even. Your ability to touch your pain, struggles, suffering and unprocessed emotions, can be supported significantly by the ancestors. They are truly here to support you in this process. Regular grieving is necessary for maintaining health and balance within your entire body. Unprocessed emotions collect within the body and need to be purged regularly in order to create space for life, joy and abundance. Creating a practice of attending to your grief not only allows you to feed the ancestors, but also to release and purge that which is stagnant in your body. If you are able to participate in structured grief rituals multiple times a year, this is ideal. Think of it like a seasonal grief cleanse!

4) Create rituals in your life.

Rituals are like spiritual containers. They provide a sacred structure for touching the unseen, the hidden, the realms beyond the mundane. Ritual reminds us there is more to life beyond this veil of illusion. Rituals can be simple or extravagant. I’m suggesting simple, consistent rituals that help you touch into Spirit regularly. Creating daily touch stones to help you connect, is a helpful part of building a relationship with the ancestors. The simplest form of this is to simply make it a daily practice to pause and check, listen and notice. To not only bring presence to Spirit, but also your entire body- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Pause, check, notice and breathe. What is arriving? Where are you feeling connected? Disconnected? Can you feel a connection to Spirit? Or do you feel disconnected? What messages are arriving?

5) Spend time in nature.

Remember that Nature is Spirit and Spirit is Nature. They are one and the same. When we spend sufficient time in Nature, we are more easily able to merge with Her wisdom. We align with the oneness that is inherent within all of us, and surrounding us. Nature can bring a sense of awe, and remind us how powerful Spirit truly is. Spend time with Nature daily if possible. Set an intention to use this as your time to connect with the ancestors. The ancestors live in rock, tree, sky, earth, animal and on and on. Notice what messages Spirit can share with you about your truth, purpose, and ancestral wisdom. Ask for messages and listen carefully for the answers.

6) Awaken your dharma.

Your life path and purpose is the ultimate way to feed the ancestors. There is no greater gift to your lineage and to those who have come before you. As you align with your truth and inner wisdom, as you awaken and share your gifts with the world, you bless your lineage in the process. You and the ancestors are both blessed with the gifts and abundance of this journey. Dharma requires that you are willing to lean into your challenges, grief, pain, struggles and suffering. It implies that you are willing to transform, heal and grow as a result of honestly and courageously leaning closer to your shadow. Dharma is not a passive journey, and it is not for the faint of heart. However, the rewards go beyond this life time, beyond this earthly realm. Living your purpose, sharing your gifts in this world and helping others heal and awaken in the process, is the most powerful offering you could ever offer your lineage!

Remember that your ancestors are always near. They are waiting anxiously for you to  acknowledge them, to welcome them into your life. Allow yourself to be willing to receive their message- in all shapes and forms. Be curious and present in the ways they show up. Even if no messages arrive, keep showing up anyway. Eventually, the space you are creating for them to arrive will pay off. Above all, attend to your grief and lean into your healing journey. Aligning with your dharma is the most important reason for being alive in a human body. Ask your ancestors to guide you and support you in this process.

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