On Saturday I met with a small group to teach practices for acknowledging, and working with, the ancestors. The time seemed propitious as the weekend coincided with sacred days honoring the dead in both the Catholic and Indigenous practices of the Americas. I was honored to spend time with these women, all of whom have sought to walk paths of beauty, living lives that honor Indigenous ways of knowing and being.
The ancestors are always with us, never leaving our sides, yet they seem more approachable now. The growing cold and lengthening darkness have long heralded their return to our communities, and a shift from the personal to the collective.
As we looked into our relationships with the ancestors it became clear the ancestors were present and attentive. This was both a given and a revelation. It is easy to forget their concern and engagement in our lives, as the dominant culture distances death and those who have passed over.
As we invited them to share with us, the ancestors spoke of the joys and sorrows of their lives, and of the unfinished tasks facing their lineages. It was not as though we could undo generations of suffering in one morning of ceremony. Rather, we were invited to consciously take on the unfinished tasks, to do only what we are able. As they spoke to each person in the privacy of her thoughts, old grudges and misconceptions gave way to compassion and understanding, daemonization yielded to caring. We were reminded we are bridges between the ancestors and the next generations.
In the evening we shared ceremony for the ancestors with others from our small community. It was a blessing.