I talk a lot about feeling connected to my ancestors, specifically the women in my lineage. I have found that, the more I work with my hands, the more I get that remembering feeling. It’s like I can see my great great great grandmothers gathering at the table cooking meals, making medicines, and telling their stories together.

The more I work with my hands and lean into that remembering, the more powerful and connected I feel.

When I bring this topic up with women in my community, it resonates with them too.

Sometimes the remembering is beautiful and powerful – bringing up images of pruning roses in the garden with a beloved grandmother or gathering with the elder women of the village for a canning party in late summer.

But this exploration in remembering can also bring up a lot of wounds from the past – images of substance abuse, abandonment, and deep depp grief.

I’ve had some women tell me that they’ve felt visceral sadness every time they read about the torture and burning of thousands of women across Europe over fear of their healing abilities.

I, myself, recently experienced a powerful release of ancestral grief during a healing massage session a few weeks ago – where I moaned and wailed for all the women in my lineage who experienced all ranges of oppression, abuse, and feeling like they couldn’t walk in the world as their authentic, free selves. When I finished, I felt lighter in my body – like I could fly. After I snapped a photo of that moment, I made a silent promise to all the women who came before me to honor them and their stories.

Autumn is a particularly potent time to honor and connect to your ancestors.

Nature is making it’s subtle and beautiful shift from summer to winter and, as the chill slowly sets in, we are reaching the height of “dying season” – which is naturally associated with the spirits of those who have passed. It is said the veil between the worlds between the living and the dead reaches its thinnest.

This is felt throughout many cultures. Mexico celebrates their ancestors with Dia de Los Muertos (the day of the dead), Western culture celebrates Halloween, and nature-based traditions celebrate Samhain.

I highly recommend looking into Samhain because you can see that many of the things we associate with modern day Halloween are derived at least in part from Samhain customers. Carving pumpkins, leaving out sweet food, black and orange colors, the donning of costumes, and community gatherings all come from various Celtic customs (many of them as old as 5,000 years) at this time of year.

We want to know where we came from and whose blood runs through our veins. We recognize those you have come before us. It puts into perspective the fact that we too will become an ancestor to future generations. Our stories will matter.

So how can you honor your ancestors this autumn?

I like the ritual of leaving out an altar on Halloween {and Samhain} night.

Remember & honor the women who came before you. {Autumn Ancestor Ritual}

I usually adorn a wooden tray with the following items on it:

  • Pictures of my ancestors
  • Heirlooms that belonged to my ancestors like jewelry, dishes or items of clothing
  • A candle for each person I’m honoring
  • A glass of wine symbolizing an offering to them (last year it was a shot of whiskey, another year it was a bottle of water)
  • Flowers and gathered nature elements to honor the turning season
  • Seasonal fruit to thank Mama Earth for her harvest this year
  • A letter of gratitude
  • Something I’ve made with my hands to remind me of my connection to them

I highly recommend listening to your intuition here and crafting an altar with elements that feel right and sacred to you. There is no wrong here.

I place the altar tray just outside my door (usually next to my jack-o-lantern pumpkins and halloween decorations awaiting eager and adorable trick-or-treaters) just as the sun is setting.

You may want to sit in front of your altar in meditation or in reflection with a journal (being open to receiving any intuitive messages) before walking away from it. In the morning you can bring your altar back inside to complete the ritual.

One more thing!

Your ancestors do not have to be known or family members to be honored. Friends and cultural figures can also be seen as ancestors. Anyone that you see as having contributed to your existence and your life path in a significant way can serve as an ancestor to be honored.

So, as the veil is thinning and the air is getting crisp, I invite you to connect to the women who contributed to every thread of the fabric of your being and craft a ritual to honor them this Autumn.

Remember & Honor The Women Who Came Before You {Autumn Ancestor Ritual}

Wisdom and rituals for slow & seasonal living

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