The Importance of Honoring Your Ancestors
Honoring your ancestors is the first step in reclaiming your spiritual heritage. As you begin to recover your ancestral memories, you will also uncover unconscious, troubled memories that prevent you from knowing the truth of who you are. According to the Vedic sages, we humans are the only species which has the power of intuition. Yet too easily we forfeit our sacred birthright and with it the ability to change and grow, create, and strive for inner freedom. We have largely forgotten the joy, love, and wellness that are intrinsic to human nature.
Our contemporary culture is so preoccupied with the pursuit of health that we seem to function from the debilitating premise that something is wrong with us. We must shift this false image of ourselves as inheritors of disease and pursuers of wellness. We are wellness. We are consciousness. These are our natural states. Disease is an imposter, a force that thrives on loss of memory. A crisis provides us with both the urgency and spiritual imperative to explore our past, but we do not have to wait for illness to occur before we undertake to recover ancestral memories.
Our cosmic obligation must be tended so that the influence of the ancestral spirits will grace our lives and purpose. The Vedic ritual practice for ancestors, called Pitri Paksha, is observed during a particular time period each year to help revive within us the memory of our people and to keep their spirits happy. Our ancestral lineage is not limited to those with who we share a genetic heritage. Teachers, mentors and older friends who inspired and shaped our lives may be included in the ritual honoring of the ancestors.
The practice involves two weeks of reciting special prayers prior to the actual day of observance, as well as offerings of grain, water, and milk to appease the ancestors. These offerings are said to give nourishment and strength to the subtle or etheric body of the ancestors and to ensure their safe travel to the blissful abode among the Pitris, or Divine Fathers. A portion of the food offering is also give to the cows and crows, animal friends we connect with the ancestral spirit.