Remembering to say thank you to our guides and helpers is important for the completion of the assistance they have given. We may have become accustomed to asking for help from the unseen world—whether from angels, guides, or ancestral spirits—but sometimes we may forget to close our connection afterwards with a thank you. When we connect to these energies for assistance, it is much like a phone connection. Forgetting to close the conversation with a proper “goodbye” is like not hanging up. While that line is still connected, others can have trouble getting through, while in the meantime, batteries are being drained. Saying “thank you” is a way of releasing our concerns into trusted hands and getting out of the way so that the universe’s divine order can work on our behalf.
As spiritual beings, we may talk about “staying connected,” but our connection needs to be with our source. We can plug in and recharge, but we run on batteries in between, and every connection we make utilizes some of our personal power. Even being surrounded by people that energize us has its limits, and at some point we will feel ready to go off on our own to do what is ours to do. Instead of trying to be constantly connected, we can turn to these beings for help in a way that is more like placing an order. We contact them, ask for what we need, and then say thank you and goodbye.
Beings of light don’t require our gratitude; it is an energetic acknowledgement of trust and release that benefits us. When we bring ourselves to a sense of being grateful, we affirm that what we have asked is already done. Then we can move forward with confidence to do the things we are meant to do, while knowing that all will be well.
Source: Daily Om
On the last Full Moon, I performed an *offerenda*. This is something used by
Peruvian and South American shamans to give thanks to the plant spirits that
help them to heal others. Of course it is also performed on The Day of The Dead,
to thank the ancestors. In essence it is a rite of thanksgiving and
So, despite all the ups and downs I’ve been having I really
felt it necessary to perform an offerenda, and what better time to do it than on
the Full Moon and the one nearest to Lughnassadh, a time of thanksgiving
In the first picture you can see some of the offerings I gave,
which have to be formally arranged in layers. You can’t see all of them but it
consisted of grains, chocolate, frankincense, herbs and flowers as well as oak
bark. In the picture you can also see my letter of thanksgiving to the
Now here is my offerenda all wrapped up and placed on my
outside altar, covered with a sprinkling of calendula and rose petals.
The time of burning. Whilst it was burning I gave thanks
to the Three Kindreds – the green clan, the ancestors and the shining
It took a while to burn but while it was burning the
smoke smelled delicious – all that frankincense I’d given. When the flames had
completely died down and it had finished smoking I doused the whole thing with
water as it has been extremely hot here in England and we’ve had a lot of grass
fires and I didn’t want to start one in my own back yard!
This offerenda gave me the opportunity to really thank
those who have helped and supported me and continue to do so, whether they are
humans or spirits. It gave me a chance to thank the Universe for all the
wonderful things I am given on a daily basis. And while I was physically alone
while doing this rite, I was definitely not spiritually alone because while I
might not have seen the spirits and some of my loved ones, I definitely sensed
them. It was a really special time and one I shall definitely be repeating in
I’m not sure if I’ve written about this topic before, my memory isn’t serving me too well at present and, well, I’m too lazy right now to be trawling through all my previous posts, but I thought I’d write something about The Three Kindreds. In my spiritual path I honour these three kindreds; the Ancestors, the Green Clan and the Shining Ones. Who are they?
The Ancestors really speak for themselves don’t they; all who have gone before. My blood relatives certainly but in fact ALL who have gone before and passed over from this earthly material realm, whether they be human or animal. In fact to distinguish between humans and animals is rather a moot point for me because we humans ARE in fact animals aren’t we. If we share 98% of our genes with orangutans and chimpanzees then yes we are animals. I can’t really distinguish between related and non-related human ancestors because all are my ancestors as we are always linked in the web of life, all share a common ancestor and all share the same emotions, feelings etc. My ancestors are your ancestors and I honour them for their wisdom, their knowledge, their struggles, their hopes and dreams. The Ancestors guide me, teach me and protect me. In turn I honour them by giving them the gift of remembrance and a continuity with the living.
The Green Clan are all the spirits of nature in all their wonderful diversity; the Fae, plant spirits, tree dryads etc. Why do I honour these? Because they impart to me spiritual wisdom that is superlative in its nature – a different kind of wisdom from that given by the Ancestors. Tied to the earthly realm but not of it if you like. They help to break down the human ego, assist in right living whilst I am still on the material plane. In return I do my part in trying to live with consciousness and mindfulness.
The Shining Ones are those who have reached enlightenment, whether they be deities or bodhisattvas. Their wisdom, knowledge and protection is beyond human perspectives as they are not of the material. Their true gift is helping humans to live as spirits in human form, and not merely as humans who have a spirit. In my understanding and experience they teach enlightenment but do not give it; we have to do our part. However we can call upon them with all our hopes, dreams, needs and sufferings and they provide everything at the right time – which is not the same as ours, as they work on a completely different spiritual wavelength to us. However, of course we can interact with them and they wish us to do so. How do I honour them? Each has his/her own likes and dislikes, just as we do. It is only by close communication with them that I learn of these and this shapes my gifts to them – spiritual discernment is the key.
With Samhain (pronounced Sow-en, or Sow-een) nearly upon us I thought I’d write a post on The Dumb Supper, or having a feast with the dead. I don’t think anyone really can attest to the exact origins of The Dumb Supper but it is something that is born from honouring the Ancestors and reverence for the dead, and thus it is obviously pagan in its origins. The act of offering food to those who have passed on is not new, cultures from ancient history, such as the Celts, the ancient Egyptians and the Romans all offered food and drink to their dead. In Japan, many thought it advantageous to provide the dead with their favorite foods. Buddhists present offerings of food to the “Pretas”—lost, goblin-like souls—for the purpose of relieving their ghostly pains. Even Christianity acknowledges the dead in their holding of three days of observance for the dearly departed at All Saints Day on November 1. So the custom of honouring the dead spans many different cultures from the distant past to the present day.
So, what is a Dumb Supper? Well, literally it is a supper you have with your loved ones; family and friends, but also with the dead, usually members of your family who have passed over. It is in fact simply dining with the dead. For many this might seem totally crazy but it is a way of remembering our loved ones as well as having a family get-together. I mean let’s face it, a lot of people speak to their loved ones who have passed on don’t they. They might tell them they love them or miss them or even have a kind of conversation with them. So why not have dinner with them?
Why hold a Dumb Supper on Samhain? Well, it’s traditionally known as the night when the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest. It’s the night when we know for sure the dead will hear us speak, and maybe even speak back. It’s a time of death and resurrection, of new beginnings and fond farewells.
How to have a Dumb Supper. Well, obviously in keeping with its name, it is a dinner held in complete silence. Remember that it is actually a kind of ceremony for the dead, so you might think it better if young children don’t take part in this. Ask each person to bring a note to the dinner. The note’s contents are kept private, and should contain what they wish to say to their deceased friends or relatives. Set a place at the table for each person, and reserve the head of the table for the place of the Spirits. Although it’s nice to have a place setting for each individual you wish to honour, sometimes it’s just not practical. Instead, use a tealight candle at the Spirit setting to represent each of the deceased. Shroud the Spirit chair in black or white cloth.
No one may speak from the time they enter the dining room. As each guest enters the room, they should take a moment to stop at the Spirit chair and offer a silent prayer to the dead. Once everyone is seated, join hands and take a moment to silently bless the meal. The host or hostess, who should be seated directly across from the Spirit chair, serves the meal to guests in order of age, from the oldest to youngest. No one should eat until all guests — including Spirit — are served. Some people say the order of courses should be backwards, so you should begin with the dessert, then have the main course and finally the appetizer but personally I don’t think this is necessary. It’s your choice. Remember also that the dead have no need to eat physical food any longer but instead they will absorb the ‘essence’ of the food. After the meal I usually give the Spirit’s plates of food to the wild animals outside for them to consume.
When everyone has finished eating, each guest should get out the note to the dead that they brought. Go to the head of the table where Spirit sits, and find the candle for your deceased loved one. Focus on the note, and then burn it in the candle’s flame (you may wish to have a plate or small cauldron on hand to catch burning bits of paper) and then return to their seat. When everyone has had their turn, join hands once again and offer a silent prayer to the dead. Everyone leaves the room in silence. Stop at the Spirit chair on your way out the door, and say goodbye one more time.
This is just the basic framework for holding a Dumb Supper, and many traditions and cultures add their own aspects to it. You can decorate the table any way you like, although black and/or white is most appropriate, and the food can be anything you want to serve and eat but bear in mind the season as it is usual to have food in keeping with the time of year. Some people serve soul cakes at the meal, which I think is a lovely idea. Soul cakes were traditionally baked as a gift for the spirits of the dead. In many European countries, the idea of “Souling” became an acceptable alternative for Christians. The cakes took many different names and shapes — in some areas, they were simple shortbread, and in others they were baked as fruit-filled tarts. Still other regions made them of rice flour. Generally, a soul cake was made with whatever grain the community had available.
Recipe for Soul Cakes
Two sticks butter, softened
3 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. nutmeg & saffron
1 tsp each cinnamon & allspice
2 tsp malt vinegar
Cut the butter into the flour with a large fork. Mix in the sugar, nutmeg, saffron, cinnamon and allspice. Lightly beat eggs, and add to flour mixture. Add malt vinegar. Mix until you have a stiff dough. Knead for a while, then roll out until 1/4″ thick. Use a floured glass to cut out 3″ circles. Place on greased baking sheet and bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle with powdered sugar while the cakes are still warm.
This is really a follow on to my last post Spiritual Imprints which talked about Aboriginal beliefs and Dreamtime. I was asking myself the question ‘who are my spiritual ancestors?’ It is true to say that I do have an affinity with Aboriginal tribal culture and beliefs but just as much to Native American, Siberian, Celtic and other indigenous cultural beliefs, although the tradition I follow is that of my blood-ancestors The Celts.
Whether we believe we as a human race originated from one man and one woman, or evolved over many thousands of years, the fact is that we are all linked. Not just with other humans too but with other animals, plants etc. I’m not a scientist but I know that all things organic share genes, for example we all know we share 98% of our gene pool with chimpanzees and the great apes, we also share 46% of our genes with daffodils. In fact us humans share our DNA with everything and they with us…we are truly linked. If we are linked physically then to my mind it stands to reason we are linked spiritually. My own personal belief is that we humans don’t ‘have’ a spirit, we ARE spirits having a human experience but even if you don’t share this belief the fact that we share so much of our DNA with other organic beings is proof (at least to me) that we are linked.
So back to the question…who are our spiritual ancestors? I suppose the obvious answer is all those who have gone before no matter what their culture or race (and I include the plant world here too). Although I’m not an Aborigine, or a Siberian, or Native American, or Norse etc. I still have a link with these Peoples. I can still honour those who have gone before for the wisdom and knowledge they have shared. The same goes for the plant world, and I might even add the Stone People (mineral world) because as a shaman…All that is…is alive! So our spiritual ancestors are not merely those of our blood relations who have gone before but also an extended family of entities (both human, plant and rock), with whom we share common and deep links.
How can we show honour to our spiritual ancestors? Well, I think this is a personal thing but I always like to ask them how I can do this first. It’s like having a beloved member of your family – you buy a present you know they will like and value don’t you, you spend time finding just the right thing that will bring them joy. So I ask the Ancestors what they would like in order for me to honour them and then really endeavour to find whatever it is, even if it is just a picture of it. An example here is that I had one spirit who asked for Moose meat, which living where I do is impossible, so I honoured it with a photo of a Moose and it was perfectly acceptable to this spirit. I’ve found that if one makes an effort to be a bit original and creative the spirits enjoy this.
I build an Ancestor shrine, usually around the time of Samhain, but it could be at a time of year that is particularly resonant with you and whichever Ancestors you are honouring. The shrine can be as simple or intricate as you like – use your imagination and creativity. Add things that are meaningful to you and the Ancestors. I then smudge the whole area (I use a mixture of Yew and Juniper, or pine resin for this but you can use whatever cleansing and purifying herb you like) before lighting a special ancestor candle and saying a few prayers of thanks and blessing before I lay my offering on the shrine.
Finally I’d like to share with you a short prayer I wrote to the Ancestors, my kith and kin.
Blessings to those who have gone before
Whether flesh or fin, feather or green
I thank you for your wisdom and guidance
Down the ages, imprinted in my mind and soul
May the memory of you continue
May the honour of you continue
May the blessing of you continue
Accept my offering now and always
By Earth, Sky and Sea
So Mote it Be!
Everything in the natural world leaves its mark on the earth. The Australian Aborigines, who have one of the longest continuous cultural histories of any group on earth, know this. Dreamtime, the spirituality and culture of the Aborigines, explains the origins and culture of the land and its people. In Aboriginal Dreaming, every meaningful activity, event, or life process is believed to leave behind a vibrational residue. Aborigines speak of the seed power deposited on the earth that all natural life brings forth known as jiva or guruwari. As plants leave an image of themselves as seeds, so too do the oceans, the mountains, and the smallest pebble. Everything in nature contains the memory of when they were created and vibrates with that life force.
“Dreaming,” in Aboriginal culture, is comprised of the knowledge, faith, and practices derived from the stories of creation and the history of Australia. Dreamtime ceremonies, rituals, stories, and drawings describe the time when humans, plants, and animals were created. Often referred to as the time before time, it was during Dreamtime that the ancestral spirits came to earth in human and other forms, creating rivers, lakes, hills, and deserts. When their work was done, the ancestral spirits became a part of the earth, changing into plants, animals, land, and the sky.
The places the ancestral spirits traveled and where they came to rest was told to the Aborigines through Dreaming. Aborigines know that they do not own the land but are a part of it and that it is their duty to respect and look after the earth. Aboriginal Dreaming acknowledges that the ancestral spirits still reside in the natural world and their imprints resonate everywhere. The past is still alive and breathing today, as it will be in the future.