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All Saints Day was known in the British Isles as “All Hallows Eve”, but in France, it was called “Toussaint”. This ancient feast day honored all of the saints… those who were canonized and also the many lesser known ones. It was the day when you thanked the Holy Ones in Heaven for answering your prayers and petitions.
Medieval Europe was very different than what Christian Churches are today. The Medieval Holy Days were the mingling of the old Pagan festivals blended into the feast days of the Catholic Church. Living close to the land was a way of life and survival… and thus Prayers were said for harvest, in churning butter and even to bless the olive oil for cooking . Certain prayers were said to bless the seed, the plough and the disstaff. The land was honored and blessed by use of the name of Christ, invocations of Saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was a way of life, at the time, to go on a Medieval pilgrimage or to say novenas.
The Day of the Dead was celebrated in the Pagan calendar the night before All Saints Day. It was custom, at that time, to ring the church bells all through the night, on Hallow’s Eve, to chase away any evil spirits. It was later that the Catholic Church changed the Day of the Dead to November 2. During All Souls Day, the ancestors were also honored and left food offerings. The veils were very thin during the winter months. People would pay more attention to ancestral visitations in their dreams or visions as they warmed themselves by the fire. The ancestors were remembered and talked to, which also brought the ancestral blessing into the living family. Candles were lit and prayers were said to free any ancestors that may be caught in the lower realms because of their bad past deeds. It was understood that if an ancestor was not at peace it would have an effect on the family.
I want to share my experience with my girlfriend Elizabeth’s mother, Elizabeth Maria Valerio, Kelley. I use to take care of Elizabeth’s rose garden many years ago. But each time I went to weed her garden, I would hit this medal boxed buried under the ground. Finally asked Elizabeth what is this box? She said “Oh that is my Mother’s ashes she had died a few years ago”…I said to Elizabeth maybe it time to release your Mom’s ashes. Elizabeth thought of it and one day she asked if I would help her release her Mom’s ashes at the Golden Gate Bridge. I said of course, so we sent out to the beach to let go of Mom. Elizabeth did not come unprepared for such ritual for she had packed a bottle wine, and a salami sandwich, everything a good tradition Italian mother would enjoy. We fashioned a small boat of drift wood placed the food offerings on the boat. We sat around toasting Elizabeth Maria life and after many prayers and thanksgiving for her life we set the little driftwood boat out to sea. And Elizabeth gently empty her mother’s ashes into the lapping waves…This was not really a sad event but it became a celebration of her Mother’s life.
Let us take one moment and look at this ancestoral tradition in a different light. The ancestors also left behind negative family patterns. These patterns are past on from one generation to the next. It only takes one person in a family lineage to bring awareness and transformation to an ancestral pattern. This very important work can bring positive change to the dynamics of an entire family. When we begin to take responsibility for our family patterns, we can view our pattens with more awareness and stop blaming our parents for our fate. We begin to understand the pain of our ancestors, of what they had too carry.
It is out of our love for our parents, as small children, that we have taken on their burdens. We carry those patterns unconsciously into adulthood. It is also out of our love for ourself and the honoring of our parents and grandparents and great great grandparents that these patterns can be healed. Not by us carrying their burdens, but through our awareness to free ourself from our parent’s karmic fate. There is soul damage in every family caused by lack of love, recognition, acceptance or just not showing up. This can leave holes in a family lineage which effects members down the family line for generations.
It is through our awareness that we can view our own lineage and trace back where the flow of love and misunderstanding got broken. One might ask… “How do we forgive when trust has been broken in our family?”.
If we can remember that the gift of life is the most precious gift anyone can be given and that it was only possible because it was given to us by our parents. Then we realize that this is our foundation for forgiveness. We can then make a place in our hearts for our ancestors, no matter what has happened in the past. It does not mean we have to carry those negative patterns that we have inherited. For real healing to happen in a lineage, we need to re-establish the flow of love where it has been broken. This might look like honoring an ancestor that never was honored in the family. When this is done, it can effect the entire family tree.
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