Healing from Your Ancestors

The spirits of ancestors have long been involved in dream healing. In fact, honoring our ancestors is a form of healing in cultures throughout the world. It is part of being whole and healthy, and even if we havenít received instructions from any forebear, in either dream consciousness or waking consciousness, honoring ancestors instructs us by giving us a sense of home, of where we come from.

Find out more about the world cultures that rely on their ancestors in dreams or waking life for healing, and learn five simple steps for honoring your own:

The Bhil people of Rajpipla and West Kandesh in India experience their deceased relatives in dreams, though these relatives cannot instruct and foretell. Among the Senoi people it is common for the spirit of recently deceased healer or adept to appear in a dream in order to instruct the dreamer, who then himself becomes a healer. Similarly, among the Garfuna people, an ancestor may appear in a dream to instruct a healer as to the cause of an illness. In North America, too, among the Sinkaietk and Okanagon people of the Pacific Northwest, a deceased relative might present healing powers in a dream. Many Native American peoples, such as the Mundururucu, have consulted ancestors in their dreams to receive guidance from those long gone.

Here are the five simple steps toward honoring your own ancestors:

1. Find a picture of a relative who preceded you by at least two generations.
This means anyone in a grandparentís generation or before. It can be a photograph or a painting.

2. Take some time to study the picture.
Look at the person as if you are seeing time or her for the first time. Study the features. Look into the eyes. Note the shape of the mouth or nose. Note what the person is wearing. Note his or her expression, the way the person holds him- or herself.

3. Thank the ancestor for giving you life.
Say this out loud and, while you do, note how you feel. At first you might be self-conscious, but after youíve let go, see what feelings are stirred.

4. Create a small shrine dedicated to your ancestors and keep it in place for awhile.
The shrine might be on at bale or small shelf, or part of a larger dresser or shelf. Include in it more than one photo or other likeness, if you wish. Find other objects that will remind you of one or more of your ancestors–notes or letters in their handwriting, a piece of jewelry, an article of clothing thatís been handed down to you.

Include whatever feels right to you–flowers or candles, which seem to be a universal symbol of light, life, and remembrance. Use your own creativity to develop a place that stirs your memory.

5. Spend a moment each day at this shrine.
No need to do anything special. Simply take the time to notice and remember. So often the pictures that we place around the house become invisible the more we see them. Perhaps you might spend some time at your shrine right before going to bed. Of course, note the dreams you have after doing this.

Adapted from The World Dream Book, by Sarvananda Bluestone (Inner Traditions, 2002). Copyright (c) 2002 by Saravananda Bluestone. Reprinted by permission of Inner Traditions.
Adapted from The World Dream Book, by Sarvananda Bluestone (Inner Traditions, 2002).

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16 comments

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for info.

Edvanir L.
Edvanir L.2 years ago

Interesting.

Robert O.
Robert O.2 years ago

Thank you Annie.

Elsie Hovav
Elsie Hovav3 years ago

ooops for typing error "shrine"

Elsie Hovav
Elsie Hovav3 years ago

I dont have a shringe but I do carry my parents and grandparents in my heart and remember them there.

Heidi H.
Past Member 3 years ago

I'm not the type of person to have a shrine to anything, but I like this idea for a meditation.