Ancestors

The veneration of the dead, including one’s ancestors, is based on love and respect for the deceased. In other cultures, ancestor worship is related to beliefs that the dead have continued existence, and may possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Ancestors are seen as being able to intercede on behalf of the living, often as messengers between humans and God.

Some groups venerate their direct, familial ancestors. Certain sects and religions, in particular the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church, venerate saints as intercessors with God; the latter also believes in prayer for departed souls in Purgatory. Other religious groups, however, consider veneration of the dead to be idolatry and a sin.[1]

Most cultures who practice ancestor veneration do not call it “ancestor worship” because of the word “worship.” We go to church to worship, God, Jesus Christ, or Mary Magdalene, a saint or a miraculous event. Linking this form of belief to our ancestors seems strange or wrong because in the west, they are not considered to have become deities when they die.

Ancestor worship as an expression of family loyalty rather than deity worship and can be seen in simple things such as visiting a deceased relatives grave, laying flowers on a grave, praying for them on their birthday or just simply finding some time to think about them on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.  

Ancestors were once living beings. As a young child I can recall sitting in my grandmothers wonderful old arm chair when she was not around, I could touch her, and watch her as she cooked. She knew what I was thinking, and sometimes I knew what she thought of me and how earnest was my bringing up. 

As an ancestor spirt, she is able to understand the challenges and successes of my life. While some cultures would say her spirit, and those of my parents are there not for me to ask for favours but to do one’s family duty. Others believe that their ancestors need to be provided for by their descendants, and their practices include offerings of food and other provisions. While still others do not believe ancestors are aware of what their descendants do for them, but that the expression of filial piety is what is important.

Most cultures who practice ancestor veneration do not call it “ancestor worship” because of the word “worship.” We go to church to worship, God, Jesus Christ, or Mary Magdalene, a saint or a miraculous event. Linking this form of belief to our ancestors seems strange or wrong because in the west, they are not considered to have become deities when they die.

Ancestor worship as an expression of family loyalty rather than deity worship and can be seen in simple things such as visiting a deceased relatives grave, laying flowers on a grave, praying for them on their birthday or just simply finding some time to think about them on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.  

The act is a way to express family duty, devotion and respect and look after ancestors in their afterlives as well as seek their guidance for their living descendants. In this regard, many cultures and religions have similar practices. Generally excluded from this are rites for the dead having no specific reference to kinsmen, and beliefs about the dead in general that lack any special reference to kinship. 

Asking your parents “what would you do?” When faced with a problem could be seen as ancestor worship because we are asking for their help and guidance to sort out a difficulty we have.

“Veneration of Ancestors” to those with a Western European Christian tradition feels more appropriate but it does not completely convey an accurate sense of what practitioners such as the Chinese and other Buddhist and Confucian-influenced societies, as well as the African and European cultures see themselves as doing. Their actions are consistent with the meaning of the word veneration in English, that is great respect or reverence caused by the dignity, wisdom, or dedication of a person.

Ancestor worship is often viewed as a religious practice rather than a religion as there is seldom a priesthood attached to it and there is no formal doctrine. In most cases ancestor worship is not the only religious practice of a society; rather, it exists as part of a more comprehensive religious system.

Death rites, including funerary and mortuary rituals, are regarded as falling within the purview of ancestor worship only when memorial rites beyond the period of death and disposition of the corpse are carried out as a regular function of a kinship group. 

Reiki has a role to play in your ability to think about and be at peace with your parents. This is not a reading of the Akashic records. A reading of your Akashic records is what the angels and guides want you to know about form your past lives.

Sit quietly in your favorite spot for connecting with your soul and your guides.

Concentrate on the Reiki symbols you are attuned with, or, a favourite symbol that has meaning to you, see it in your minds eye. Then see the others. If you miss one that is not important for now, it is not meant to be part of this session. So, do not dwell on it.

Think about your parents. Not in a static way, like a photograph, think of times when you were together and enjoying yourselves and doing something meaningful to you both.

With your perspective, looking back to the past, you have a new image and appreciation of your parents in those moments. Of course, not everything is rosy. There are moments of sadness but even those help you gain a new appreciation of your parents and how they dealt with the situations that faced them.

If they speak to you, or offer information, listen attentively. If you have questions, or need help, ask in your mind. Set out the questions and reasons for asking but do not ask them to offer a decision on solutions you have in mind. Let the reply you get from your ancestors be undirected and without influence. 

The point is that if you state a question and ask them to comment on your proposed solutions, they may not reply because none are optimal and none is any better than the other. The solution they have may not be art of your list, by limiting their feedback to only what you have come up with cuts off the one that you should have.

If it is beneficial for your spirit to pass through some difficult period or event, they may not reply at all so that you experience what you need to learn.

As you spend more time with your ancestors and call n them more frequently the dialogue will become easier and the answers you receive fuller and more detailed, but this is not a dialogue you would have had with the while you they were alive. They have passed over and have a very different view of your life, events and being.


[1] Wikipedia, “Veneration of the Dead.”

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Mark is a Registered Reiki Teacher and Practitioner under the Canadian Reiki Association

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Mark is a Usui Tibetan Reiki Master Teacher under the International Association of Reiki Professionals.

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