Finding Your Roots: Reconnect to Your Ancestors

Coatlique Placing the Moon in the Sky by Hrana Janto


My brain is in that mushy, fresh-out-of-ceremony state: I just spent 4 nights dancing under the full moon with 200 women from all over the world as a part of an ancient Mexica rite.

We fasted, we prayed, we sang our hearts out. We were up all night freezing our tushes off and were up all day getting broiled by temezcals and the fierce Costa Rican sun. It was hard–mentally, physically, emotionally–in ways I still can’t quite put my finger on, and also bathed in the sweetness of being with some hilarious, outrageous sisters.

One thought that kept me going: Dude. My ancestors did this.

I talk about this all the time: Our bodies and hearts know so much more than our minds. We hold an ancient wisdom that most of us have no idea exist. We are the sum of our ancestors and all their hopes & dreams for us–how can their prayers not be etched into our bones?

When you begin on a path, especially a spiritual one–you notice you are drawn to certain traditions & practices without quite knowing why. Yoga was the starting place for me: I found a firm foundation in asana, meditation and philosophy in those traditions.

Parallel to my yoga practice, I began dabbling in traditional Latino herbalism and studying with my teacher in Costa Rica. Little by little, I became curious about the bigger picture of what plants were a part of–traditional Latino medicine & Mexica spiritual practices, and the people appeared to support me and that insatiable curiosity.

My mother’s family is from Mexico, so is it any wonder that I am inexplicably attracted to these practices? That I somehow stumbled upon them in a tiny village in the South Caribbean? To me, the answer is clear:

This is in your blood, woman.

So how to get close to your own ancestral callings and relations?

First, ASK.

Ask for guidance, always. Pray about it, meditate about it, ask your ancestors to be with you throughout your day and guide you as your make your decisions.

During the ceremony, one of the abuelas said something that sent chills down my spine:

“Your ancestors prayed for you to be here.”

I kept that thought in mind every time I got stuck: when I was falling asleep on my feet, when the sweat lodges were getting extra toasty, when I didn’t think I could handle standing in the sun for another second. My time and effort became an offering, and I would think of that phrase and become grateful.

Notice the little things that catch your attention, that ignite your passion, that light a fire under your ass. This is the way that your ancestors and you own deep knowing point you in your truest direction.

Coyolxauhqui by .:Nikas:. via Flickr

Honor your People

In the Lakota tradition, they say mitakuye oyasin meaning “to all my relations,” or “we are all one.” Find your own way to connect with your heritage, whether it’s whispering prayers to your grandparents, or Googling a ritual from the culture of your ancestors and making it your own.

When I teach people how to smudge, I always encourage students to do a little research into the plants of where their families are from. Someone with roots in North America might resonate with sweetgrass, while those with families from Central America may love Palo Santo or Copal.

It’s the same idea with honoring practices: do some research and use what works for you. Talk to your parents, your grandparents, or hit the library to delve into the kind of spirituality that your ancestors practiced.


In case I haven’t written about it enough, ritual is what keeps our souls grounded and nourished. When you find a way of honoring your ancestors that works and feels good to you, keep it up. They are always with you, always on your side, and always there for your guidance–that is the nature ancestor spirits. It’s like having a tough-love pep rally of your very own behind you. The more interest you show in them, the more guidance you’ll be given.

How do you honor your ancestors?

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