Honoring the Ancestors on Day of the Dead


Dia de los Muertos is one of my favorite holidays. This time of year when the veil between the realms is thin feels incredibly magical and potent, and over the years I've deepened a practice of reverence and communion with my ancestors.  I usually make a trip to Mexicantown in Detroit for some pan de muertos, a Mexican pastry that I place on my ancestor altar to honor my ancestors. I wasn't able to get the pasteles this year, but did prepare the favorite foods of my dear departed. During this season, I keep my ancestor altar refreshed with flowers and treats of food and beverages for several days over the course of the traditional holiday which runs from November 1st to 3rd.

Earlier this year I was grateful to participate in large ancestral healing ritual and workshops, and since this season feels so internal it felt right to honor the ancestors in simple ritual with an intimate group of friends. A handful of us, all healers and practitioners of various ilk, gathered to prepare an ofrenda as we shared stories of our beloved dead. The offering, similar to a Buddhist sand painting mandala, is a temporary work of art imbued with love and gratitude before it is swept away as a symbol of impermanence. 

After our ceremony, we each took a handful of the offering home to disperse on the land in memory of our ancestors. These simple gestures of connection and gratitude help us remain connected to our loved ones beyond this world, with one another, and with the rhythms of the natural world.