Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Musing: Honouring Our Ancestors

'It is indeed a desirable thing to be well descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors.' Plutarch

Across continents and cultures, there have always been ways in which we humans have honoured the deceased, especially our ancestors. From actual ancestor worship, elaborate rituals for the dead and funeral customs, to celebrations of ancestors such as Día de los Muertos, there are many ways in which we have and do pay homage to those who have passed.

Around this time of year, here in my home we celebrate the lives of loved ones who have died, which is highlighted by feasting, ritual, and the like on Samhain.

Around the middle of October we dedicate our altar to those we have loved, whether they were a family member, friend, or pet by placing photos, belongings, and other mementos. We also decorate it with the lovely gifts that Mama Nature has left for us such as leaves, acorns, feathers, etc that remind us of this time of year.

We believe that this time of year is when the 'veil is thinnest between worlds', which makes Samhain the perfect time to commune with the dead as well. It is also a new year for us (well, at least in the spiritual sense), so we also do divination to see what the upcoming year has in store.

I won't go more into about our rituals as they are personal, but there are various ways in which one can take advantage of the little extra 'activity' happening at this time of year. I had done a post previously about herbs associated with death, which might come in handy if one is wanting to connect with the departed.

Besides the Samhain/Halloween recipes that I had posted a little while back, here are a few webbys with recipes appropriate for this time of year, and the dead:

Funeral Food from

A Black Feast from Widdershins

Día de los Muertos Recipes

Regardless of one's spiritual (or non-existing) beliefs, I personally think it is important to honour our ancestors, for reasons that are perfectly summed up by Edmund Burke:

'People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.'



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