Tomorrow marks the start of my deep fall ancestral work. The first full moon before the Autumnal Equinox is the start of Pitru Paksha, the fortnight of the ancestors.
Since my heritage covers many countries, I have the beautiful benefit of embracing their various traditions into my own. My grandfather was a Brahmin, and both Papa and Mama had a home puja room where daily and nightly ritual was completed. I had the beautiful memories of learning pujas with Papa and then training with Mama on her spiritual path as healer, spirit walker and manifestor of Shakti energy into this world.
The legend behind Pitru Paksha:
The renowned hero of the Mahabharata, Karna, when he left the mortal coil, ascended to the higher worlds and the great charity he had done here was returned to him hundredfold. But, it was all gold and silver; there was no food, as he had not done any food-charity! He prayed to the god of death. So, he was sent back to earth for fourteen days, to make up for this deficiency.
For fourteen days, he fed Brahmins and the poor, and offered oblations of water. On his return to the higher regions, he had food in plenty. It is these fourteen days that are commemorated in the Mahalaya Paksha. Due to the grace of the god of death, it has been ordained that offerings made during this period benefit all the departed souls, whether they are connected to you or not.
Charity in the form of food is important during this observance. Life depends upon food. You cannot preach religion to empty stomachs. This human body is the most important vehicle for realising God. How precious must food be which keeps the body fit for Yoga! The gift of food is the greatest gift. Therefore, give food in plenty, not only during the Mahalaya fortnight but all through the year
Ancestral work is part of my everyday life, but to honour this part of my lineage, I create a Pitru Paksha altar each year. This is their home for this fortnight, 2017.
One of the key requirement of the two week vigil is the offering of food on your altar, not just to the ancestral spirits, but the spirits of the animals and plants who have died for our survival.
This offering must also extend to those who are living. Feeding of the poor and caring for the animals. It is a time for giving back, charity. In the past I put cash on the altar each day and these funds would be donated to the local food bank and animal shelter. When funds permitted I would host a Mourning Tea Event called The Orphans Dumb Supper. I would cover full costs and all proceeds would go to the charities and my guests would bring 3 items each for the Cauldron of Giving. Sadly, with all that has transpired this year, I will not be doing the Event but encourage all of you to!
My altar has several spiritual offerings. The centre glass vessel sits on top a tea pot candle heater and will hold a Marigold flowering tea which I bring to life with mantras. This year I have added 7 lotus offertory vessels. These vessels represent my Spiritual Ancestors (deity), Maternal lineage, the “unknown” ancestors (please see previous post and YT video on this concept) as well as the ancestors of the animal, plant and mineral kingdom. This year there is one new vessel representing my Paternal lineage (which is a new adventure for me, one that I do continuous shadow work and soul retrieval to accept and be accepted by this lineage.) This is the time to close ancestral karmic debts that may be influencing your life.
The crow is an important energy during this time. It is believed that they hold the energies of the ancestors and if they consume your offerings the ancestors have accepted your blessings and gratitude and return blessings to you. The offerings are then placed outside in my local park for consumption by our animal in flesh and spirit.
In preparation for these workings, I have ritually prepared my own portal spray, it contains spiritual plant medicine for both awakening journeying energy to reach the upper world, the ancestral home. I also have a protection barrier spray that I use for many spiritual and healing purposes, including a post ritual-bath protection body spray and in creating the boundaries of my sacred space, casting the circle if you will :). The journeying spray is then used within this barrier to open the portals.
I layer these energies through the creation and use of my journey lotus tincture, homecrafted offertory incense and anointing oil as well as my pre-ritual bath and tea blends. All of which contain the same main plant spirit energies. The main energy is white lotus in unison with sandalwood and dammar. The white lotus is a psychobotanical, enthobotanical spirit teacher. She contains properties which assist in trance and journeying works. Each year additional herbs, resins, roots and more are added as guided by spirit for the type of ancestral workings needed that year.
Working with the same energies as a basis through all of these ritual products is what I refer to as layering energy. As a part of my shamanic rites, when I can, I awaken all my senses in the journey. Post to come!
I am excited as we enter this deeply spiritual active, yet internalized time of year, and would love to hear how you honour your ancestors now, and throughout the year.
Namaste and Blessed Be,
Kayla Alyssa, your Shakti Shaman