Last night I spent a few hours looking through old photo albums with my son. We set up pictures of those who have passed on an altar, and this morning I made some offerings to them. I put out coffee, chips (for my grandmother), some homemade banana bread, and water. I will spend some time each day over the next two weeks tending to the ancestors, and I will release whatever food they are served into a nearby river when finished. I will sit with them each day and ask for their release and forgiveness, and in turn I will ask that they release, forgive, and support me in all of my endeavors.
In the Vedic tradition, yesterday marked the start of the Ancestor Fortnight, Pitru Paksha, in my time-zone. This two week period began with yesterday’s full moon at 9:30 AM EST and ends with the new moon on Saturday, October 14 at 1:55 PM EST. For those who observe, this is a time for reflection, contemplation, and for connecting with the ancestors (biological and chosen).
Because these two weeks mark deep reflection for millions across the globe, the energy of the time is not forward moving (even if you personally do not observe this tradition). This means that this is not a great time for launching new things or for starting new routines. Just as the season outside shifts from summer to autumn, this same transition is reflected within us as well. The cooling temperature slows nature down, summer blooms begin to wilt, migrating animals prepare to move, and those who hibernate start to stock up until the resources dwindle. The building, the growing, the conquering, this part of the year is over for now.
Now we prepare for the coming winter by reflecting on the bounty that spring and summer brought. We close up the windows, pull out the heavy blankets and sweaters, and we eat warming foods to help our systems to adjust to the sudden shift in temperature. To mark this turning inward, we reflect on the deep past that brought us to who, where, and how we came to be. During Pitru Paksha I reflect on the ways in which the decisions made by those who came before me brought me to where I am now, and how the paths taken during their journeys influenced the directions that I have taken in my own life, with gratitude.