Honoring Your Ancestors
Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash
There are many different types of ancestors. When we talk about honoring your ancestors, this could be your blood ancestry, or it could be a lineage of teachers or spiritual guides you’re connected to. It could even be members of your community who came before you.
You might wonder: what do ancestors have to do with feng shui? Not a lot of people know this, but the first official feng shui was actually yin feng shui, which focused on using feng shui principles to find the best burial sites for loved ones. This would help to ensure that one’s ancestors were happy and at peace, which in turn would also lead to more auspiciousness and prosperity for their descendants.
In BTB feng shui, which is the school of feng shui that we practice and teach, we also honor the lineage of teachers who shared their wisdom and knowledge with us. We have received so much from our teachers and from the wisdom traditions that inform feng shui, and it’s important to acknowledge that our feng shui practices were built by so many who came before us.
Whether you’re just starting to connect with your ancestors, or you’re looking for new ways to deepen your connection, here are a few of our favorite tips for honoring your ancestors:
Take up practices with a long history.
One way to connect with your ancestors is to take up practices that have been around for several generations. Have you been feeling drawn to study feng shui, tarot, herbalism, or another tradition that might have been practiced by our ancestors? Diving more deeply into these subjects can help us understand that we aren’t alone, and that much of our knowledge comes from the people who came before us.
Research the people that came before you.
If you have access to information about your blood ancestry, you may want to look up your family tree and learn about the people you’re descended from. Get curious about them. What languages did they speak? What were their names? How did they live? If you don’t have blood ancestry information or prefer not to explore that, you can bring this same curiosity to a lineage of teachers or guides you have learned from, or elders/predecessors in your community.
Create an altar dedicated to your ancestors (or spirit guides).
You may want to carve out a space in your home that is dedicated to the presence of your ancestors or spirit guides. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you’d like, and you can place any objects here that feel meaningful to you. These could be photos, fresh flowers, treasures that were passed down to you, or other offerings. Creating this space in your home is a way to honor those that came before you and acknowledge the foundation they created for you. Once you’ve set up this area to connect to your ancestors, take care of it! Make sure to dust it and keep it clean.
Find a location for your ancestor altar.
Ideally, you’ll want to set up your altar in a neutral part of your home, and not a bedroom or bathroom. There is no one right place for an ancestor altar, so trust your intuition when it comes to the best place for you. If you’re having trouble finding a good spot for it, you could use the feng shui bagua to find an appropriate location. The Career and Path in Life area, called Kan in Chinese, is connected to ancestry, so this could be a great place for your altar. It’s also generally front and center in the home, so you might want to keep your altar here subtle, with a single photo or a vase of flowers.
The Family area of the bagua, called Zhen, is another location you might want to consider for your ancestor altar. This area is about growth and new beginnings, which might seem unrelated to ancestors — but our ancestors are the ones who created the foundation for us to move forward in our lives.
We hope this gives you some inspiration to honor your ancestors this season. If you want to learn more, be sure to listen to our episode of the Holistic Spaces Podcast all about honoring our ancestors.