Ancestor Feast

In our community we celebrate the Ancestor Feast. This ancient rite has many variations across cultures. I would like to share one example.

On the first anniversary of the death of a dear friend or family member, a great feast is made of their favorite foods and a give-away is planned in which the things that once belonged to this person are assembled on a blanket to be given away that evening. The table is set and one chair is draped with a scarf or other item that once belonged to the beloved one, a photograph of the deceased sits at this place. It is understood that for this meal, the living and the dead come together to celebrate the continuity of love.

Once the food is ready, prayers are said and songs sung. It is a joyful occasion. Plates are heaped high, but the first plate is for the most honored guest, the one who has gone before. This plate is then carried outside and placed beneath a tree, or the food is burned in a sacred fire to travel directly to Spirit.

In every Ancestor Feast the food is so much more delicious, friendship so precious. Stories are told. Jokes shared. ‘Remember when’ is the refrain. By sharing memories, we know we have lived. We affirm our existence. We enact our essential ways of belonging to each other.

After everyone has eaten their fill, each guest, from eldest to youngest, selects one thing to take home from the items on the give-away blanket. The dishes are washed. The evening ends with good-bye hugs.

The love that binds us together does not end when life ends. The love just goes on and on. The Ancestor Feast reminds us of the importance of loving no matter what form our beloved takes – whether embodied or in Spirit – we remain connected. We can visit in dream. We can feel and we can remember. I know I do.

me & kee Sometime in the mid 1980s on a wilderness island with the late Keewaydinoquay.

2 thoughts on “Ancestor Feast

  1. dear Megisikwe thanks so much for this profound meditation– here’s one for you love from Harvey *

    *’I Wrote It Together’*

    Susie and I hung out with our friends Carol and Rev

    and their daughter Mariela, a charming sprite who’s

    a cornucopia of creativity, with drawings, dances, songs

    and other appealing expressions constantly flowing…

    that was yesterday, so it’s not surprising that

    last night I dreamed Mariela said to me, casually,

    ‘I wrote it together,’ referring to…well, I don’t know,

    for the phrase is all that survived the dream.

    But it’s enough, nay, more than enough,

    four apparently simple, everyday words

    that have the power to open my heart

    to a much deeper understanding, akin to

    the legendary story of Ali Baba chanting

    /‘Open, Sesame,’/which opened a door

    in a mountainside, revealing the treasure within.

    I know I’m not the only one who thinks, ‘I did this,’

    and ‘I did that,‘ when actually, and always,

    ‘I did it together…’

    together with my ancestors, together with

    everyone who ever helped me learn something,

    together with all of the friends whose companionship

    leaves their fingerprints on my soul…

    no, I’ve never done anything alone—

    ‘I wrote it together’


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