When I lived in Minneapolis, I attended an inspiring Day of the Dead celebration. Several theater groups sponsored it, so it was not only a soulful experience, but a creative one.
The service began with a procession through the woods. It was a dark night, but the golden moon sat nestled above the tree line.
As we walked into a clearing, our large group found hay bale seats on the hillside. We sat silently, aware that something magical was about to happen.
Several ushers walked through the crowd with bowls of smoky frankincense.
After a few moments, we were invited to call out the names of our loved ones, those who had died throughout the year.
When we were done, the voices settled into silence once again and something stirred in the field before us.
Skeletons. Lots of them.
One-by-one, people shrouded in black came forth with white paper mache animal skeletons that glowed in the candle and moonlight. All we could see were white bones. They looked so real.
There were people on bikes dressed like four legged creatures – the bones of dogs, horses, cats moving quickly by our feet.
There were people carrying sticks to make the bones of their winged creatures fly – bats and birds – high above our heads.
But the most amazing of all was a life sized whale skeleton that must have been carried by a dozen or more people.
It was a remarkable way to honor our ancestors, human and animal, and remember that we are part of a cycle of life, death and rebirth.
Honoring our Ancestors Together – On Line
Celebrations like the one I experienced in Minneapolis are a meaningful way to honor the dead, but you can also honor your loved ones by reflecting on your ancestral dreams and creating an ancestral altar in your home.
So in light of this tradition, I’m inviting you to connect with your ancestors, online, with us.
Over the next several days I’ll share various ways you might honor your ancestors at home, and also how you might contribute to our group “altar” here at the DreamTribe.
We’ll also be doing a group dream incubation to connect more intentionally with our ancestors.
The best place to start is by creating an ancestral altar.
I have a permanent place for my ancestral altar. It’s an antique table that’s been in my family for 3 generations.
On my table are photos and important trinkets that belonged to my ancestors.
The most recent additions come from my grandfather, a decorated WWII vet who jumped into Normandy on Dday. He died in April this year, just after his 90th birthday.
In honor of him, I have one of his pipes, filled with tobacco, sitting next to a photo of his mother, grandmother and grandfather.
Although I leave mine up year round, you can create an ancestral altar just for Samhain, Dia de los Muertos and All Saints/Souls Day.
Whatever you do, I suggest creating the altar with reverence. You might use photos or trinkets, sacred ancestral objects handed down from generation to generation, or earth from your ancestral lands.
You might also incorporate dream inspired elements, especially if they came form ancestral dreams.
For instance, I had a dream about Welsh soap (which I’ll write about later this week), so I’ll add a piece of soap to my altar.
What about you? Do you have an altar?
If you have your own ancestral altar, share your thoughts on how to create one.
How do you use it?
What should go on it?
How do you maintain it?
Anything else we need to know?
Share in the comments section below.