One day a man came for a spiritual orientation with the aim of finding out what to do in order to improve his life. He was advised to make an offering to his ancestors so that they shall look upon him through blessed eyes. He did what he was told and received an ancestral blessing.
Ancestor worship is one of the best prescriptions you can give to anyone because with the help of the ancestors one will always be able to alleviate problems.
The connection to our ancestors is so intimate that in the Yoruba tradition, the dead are buried at home and not at the cemetery. This way the Yoruba people can wish their ancestors a good morning at the dawn of every new day and a good night every time the dusk falls. They can sit on their ancestors’ graves and cry or laugh alongside them. Death does not separate us from life, it is merely a passage into another existence.
If we love someone, we use the term Ódàbọ̀, which means “See you soon”. The reunion may occur in our dreams or imagination, but it may also be initiated by a profound feeling that we have lost a loved one or simply by worshiping our ancestors.
For us death does not signify an end to anything. Death is merely a new beginning that offers a possibility to be reborn. With regards to ancestry we distinguish between female ancestors (Gẹ̀lẹ̀dẹ̀) and male ancestors (Egúngún).
The first thing we have to accept is the concept of death. In Yorùbá, death is referred to as íkú. The word kú means “to die”. Death is a process of passing from one world into another. If we do not acknowledge the existence of death, it is impossible for us to be liberated from its imminent danger. This leads us to the most interesting point: in the African world, death is celebrated as opposed to bemoaned. This way the people are able to accept the reality of life. Death is comprehended in one of two ways: on the one hand, there is “socially acceptable death” of those who die at a late stage in life, and on the other, there is “socially unacceptable death” that refers to the tragic, unexpected deaths of young people. Such deaths are unexpected as they occur at a young age, and in most cases, they are related to the energy called Àbíkú – born for premature death. This leads us to another reason why we worship our ancestors – to avoid the possibility of dying prematurely before living out our fate in full.
There are also two different levels of ancestors, regardless of whether they are Egúngún (male ancestors) or Gẹ̀lẹ̀dẹ̀ (female ancestors): honourable ancestors and non-honourable ancestors.
Not everyone who dies is suitable to be regarded as an honourable ancestor. In order to be worshiped after death, one must achieve a certain level of existence while being alive. A person who rises up to a certain level of evolution during lifetime loses virtually all family ties upon death and is generally worshiped as an honourable ancestor. Such people represent the doorway between the world of the living and the world of the dead.
This means that the behaviour and the manners we exhibit over the course of our lifetime determine how we are going to be venerated after death. After a venerable person dies, an invocation is made, and his or her energy subsequently materializes so that it can become the messenger for all people.
Our character determines how we are going to be socially accepted while being alive as well as after we die. Your opportunity to ensure a good reincarnation and a positive evolution starts right now, at this very moment.
Ancestors symbolize community, construction, and development. They are a symbol of peace and harmony.
We invoke them to understand our direction in life and to urge them to fight for us and our interests. Furthermore, we invoke our ancestors to ask them to give us orientation, to direct us to the right path, and to show us the easiest way to overcome our problems.
Both male and female ancestors are represented by and manifested through a ritualistic costume that is used by a priest or a priestess as a medium.
For starters, it is enough to simply make a pledge to our ancestors for our well-being in our own language in any way we like. However, if we want to radically change our life, we must visit a priest or a priestess who is initiated into this energy.
Ancestor worship is especially important if we notice that the history is repeating itself and that certain diseases or habits run in the family. With ancestor worship we can alleviate the problems of past generations and prevent them from being passed on to the future ones.
The energy associated with ancestor worship is too spiritual to be classified simply as part of religion. There are two ways of worshiping one’s ancestors, two distinct ways of how to invoke the blessing of our forebears:
- we can make an offering – the best way to do that is to give them what they liked the most while still alive;
- we can prepare dinner at home for a group of people and dedicate it to a deceased ancestor – this is referred to as sàra for the ancestors.
Another basic way of worshipping our ancestors is to clean their graves and light candles to them. Paying regular visits to their graves and talking to them is greatly important, and verbal communication is particularly significant.
We distinguish between the physical or biological genetics on the one hand and astral, spiritual genetics on the other. At birth, a child brings into this world the physical or biological genetics of its family. The deceased ancestors have a strong impact on the astral and spiritual genetics of the living.
We also worship the ancestors in order to be more harmonious and eliminate any turbulences in our life. We are constantly in touch with our ancestors because we believe that the present is the continuation of the past and that the present moment is just a precursor to the future.
It doesn’t matter if we don’t know where our ancestors are buried. The spiritual, astral, physical, and biological genetics are stored in our bodies, accompanying us wherever we are. Therefore, we can always pray for our ancestors in our own unique way. A prayer is an expression of our wishes, of the things we want them to do. We can ask them for progress, health, money, good luck, etc. For this reason, we always say the following while addressing them: “You are the ones who said my life is going to be sweet, bring the sweetness of this planet into my life.”
Sometimes we advise our clients to go to the church they belong to and to pray for their ancestors there. The only thing that is forbidden in ancestor worship is doing nothing, not remembering them, never asking them for anything.