How to Connect to your Ancestors

Sacred 'Imphepho' plant

In many cultures, honoring and connecting with the ancestors is an accepted and honored tradition. In my Irish heritage I often heard stories from my mother on how her parents and grandparents would talk and have long conversations with their loved ones who had already passed. It seemed normal to me, and I began to follow in my ancestors traditions.

When in training to be a Sangoma (African Shaman) I was introduced to the Indigenous way of connecting to Ancestors. It seemed strange at first, but very shortly into my training I looked forward to this daily ritual of connecting to the Ancestors.

In South Africa snuff is offered as a gift to the Ancestors alongside the burning of a sacred plant called Imphepho. The scent of the burning leaves is very relaxing and is said to call the spirits to engage with those calling to them. Often the ritual is done on the floor and with great reverence for the ancestors. At different times, offerings are offered especially when you feel gratitude to things taking place in your life.

Once you have begun to create a connection with your Ancestors, you can then begin to have a dialogue with them on things in your life. People in Africa speak about the aspects in life that they feel grateful for, and are also very specific about things they need help with. In the Dagara culture, they greet their Ancestor’s in the morning and again in the evening.

Why not try it and see how you feel and what the connection does in your world?

The following ritual forces you to slow down in order to truly and deeply connect to your personal Ancestors. It offer an opportunity to re-unite with loved ones who have passed on and invite them back into your life.

How to start?

Create a sacred space or a place of special significance to you.

This place is where you go, and the ancestors to come to for you both to communicate.

You may put a few pictures of your family members or special mementos in the sacred space.

You may like to place a shawl or scarf over your shoulders when you come to this sacred place.

You can also find a regular time to be with your Ancestors. In Africa we do this daily. We connect and communicate with our Ancestors on a daily basis. We strengthen the cords between us and our beloveds in the beyond

  • Find a quiet time
  • Limit distractions
  • Light a candle
  • You can use a white candle or if you feel drawn to a particular colour, then go intuitively with that colour is appropriate. Some people even like to choose a particular scent.
  • You may like to take some deep breaths, to let go of the day’s activities. As you breathe out, let go of stress and as you breathe in draw in the nurturing, supportive quality of Earth, Gaia.
  • When you feel centered and quiet inside you can begin
  • If you have incense or sage then light this and let the smoke create the ambience.
  • Call your father’s lineage
  • Call your mother’s lineage (use the maiden name of your mother)
  • Ask for all those who have chosen to assist you in your life to come to talk with you. (In Africa we call these ancestors the Desired Ones).

For the first time, this may be enough to simply slow down and connect.

As you do this more often you can then begin talking to the Ancestors about your day or what is going on in your world.

Notice the feelings and emotions that come up.

Some people have noticed changes and shifts in their lives simply by making this connection.

Ask for assistance if you need it.

Give thanks and gratitude

Offer a thanksgiving gift i.e. snuff (tobacco) or fruit or even a small tot of alcohol!

Connecting to my Ancestors in now a daily ritual and a very important part of my life. I’ve created an 8 week online mentoring course ‘Connecting to the Ancestors’ for those interested in learning more.

There is a deep longing by people in the west to connect spiritually and this ritual is a start to connecting spiritually to your heritage.

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