Dia de Muertos: Honoring Our Ancestors

Yol Swan's altar for the Day of the DeathIn Mexico, the Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd; the first day is devoted to the children and the second to the adults. This tradition is probably around 3000 years old, but since November 2nd is also the Christian All Souls Day, the blending of cultures—which characterizes Mexico in general—fits nicely here. People set up altars at home with bright and colorful flowers and decorations surrounding photographs of their loved ones, with the food and drinks they used to love. It is believed that, on these days, departed souls come and visit this plane to enjoy the things they were attached to, through their loved ones. People also visit, clean, and decorate their graves, and gather to celebrate the memory of those they loved. It truly is a celebration of the continuity of life.

I honor the Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) every year, if in a very simple form. Not just because I always loved the colorful, artistic display of family altars I saw everywhere while growing up in Mexico, but also because I consider that it is very important to honor our ancestors and close family members who have passed away.

Many ancient cultures considered honoring the ancestors a fundamental aspect of life, and I feel fortunate to have acquired this respect for the departed souls from a young age. It allows me to connect with them all on an energetic level to remember those I knew and loved, and make peace with the ones I didn’t know personally, or may have had a difficult relationship with. In any case, it is important to keep in mind that all family members are connected on an energetic and karmic level, and that making peace and honoring them helps us all to move on on our spiritual journey.

Even if your ancestors have moved on, and are no longer in the spirit realms, they are still connected to you on a subtle level. Doing spiritual practices to help them evolve, or making a donation to charity in their name is something simple you can do to make peace and dissolve your energetic bond with them. Whether you loved them or had difficulties with them, or didn’t even know them, this energetic connection hampers your own spiritual development, as it remains an attachment or aversion in your subconscious mind, or a link to the samskaras and karma you may have shared with them or that may have been transmitted and reinforced for generations. Food for thought on this Day of the Dead…

© 2010 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.

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