It is no coincidence that during this time of year, late summer, we honor our ancestors, those who have come before us. In the world view of Plant Spirit Medicine healing, late summer is a time of great harvest, the time when we experience the bountiful gifts of nature. Among those bountiful harvests, a very important harvest is our relationship with our loved ones who have gone before us.

A holiday season of healing

We celebrate Halloween and we celebrate Thanksgiving during this season of late summer. To me they are very much linked together, just as our lives are inextricably connected to the lives of our ancestors. Harvest time is the perfect time of year to remember our ancestors and to honor them and thank them. Without their sacrifices, without their dreams, without their courage and their love we would not have life. Whenever we honor our ancestors we are strengthening our love, respect and relationship with our lineages, our families. Such honoring, such love and respect can do wonders towards healing our family’s relationships in this world and the next.

What is it like to honor our ancestors?

Different cultures have different ways to approach love and respect for ancestors. We tend to be familiar with Mexico’s Day of the Dead. When I was growing up we did not exactly call our dead back, but instead we remembered them with gratitude, flowers, prayer, candles. Nowadays I prefer honoring my ancestors, my teachers, those loved ones who have gone … by remembering them.  Some years I have built an altar celebrating their presence in my life, celebrating the love and gifts shared and exchanged. I don’t like focusing on calling them back or invoking them in any way. I realize they have transitioned to the spirit world and are perhaps doing other kinds of work in the spiritual realms. And actually the process is really for me: to help me remember how lucky I have been to have such love in my life. And in the course of that remembrance, to give thanks, to be humble, to appreciate the huge blessing of being alive.