- Create an ancestor altar which includes photographs of your loved ones along with candles, flowers and any objects that bring them closer.
- Sit quietly in front of your altar. Bring your awareness to your breathing and your body, which is alive in the space. Say the names of those you are invoking. It’s been said that the ancestors need to be invited, as the place they now reside is a Mystery to the living.
- Invoking the souls that you shared life and hold dear, might bring mixed feelings, and quite possibly tears. Please know that your tears are food to the ancestors as it shows how much they are missed.
- Just as we do with dream images, notice where they appear in your space. Breathe with them and invite them to breathe with you. Take your time, they reside in a different time/space reality… simply remain receptive to all sensations.
- Words might arise naturally from your heart to speak to them, or their voice might be heard. Are you needing support in your life, if so, ask them for their support or simply tell them a story of your current life. Sometimes sharing the words from the traditional Hawaiian practice of Hoʻoponopono, “I’m sorry, please forgive me, thank you, I love you” have a simple yet deep impact.
- Keep a journal and art supplies nearby if any words are exchanged or draw any feelings, images or colors that arise.
- Let yourself steep in remembrance and memory. Rest in gratitude for your time together and the place that is still filled with the love you shared.
- Bring to mind the qualities that you loved in them and honor their memory by embracing these qualities into yourself.
- Invite them to move behind you and place their hands on your shoulders. Breathe in the support through the back of your heart. Then thank them for visiting. They may stay close or fade away but continue to breathe their closeness. Feel free to keep your altar for a while if it brings you solace…
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Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., is the founder of Dream Tending, Pacifica Graduate Institute, and the Academy of Imaginal Arts and Sciences. He is a world-renowned professor of depth psychology, an imagination specialist, and an innovator. He has served as an organizational consultant to major companies and institutions, and as a depth psychological content advisor to Hollywood film makers. He has lectured extensively in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. He is affiliated with the Earth Charter International project through the United Nations, where he has spoken. Professor Aizenstat is the Chancellor Emeritus and Founding President of Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has collaborated with many notable masters in the field including Joseph Campbell, James Hillman, Marion Woodman, and Robert Johnson.