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What are the Ancestors? A sacred cult that seeks the light of the beyond

What are the ancestors

To the ancestors, to the spirits of those who have already left this worldWe ask you to help us and support us on the path of life, to bring us luck and good fortune and to present us with your strength to carry on despite difficulties.

What does ancestor worship mean?

The cult of the ancestors or cult of the ancestors It is a common practice in various religions based on the belief that family members who have died, who are the so-called ancestors, have a new existence in the afterlife.

It is believed that these spirits continue to watch over us and help us overcome the tests that fate brings us.

They are interested in world affairs and in the state of the relatives they have left on Earth and possess the ability to influence the fate of the living.

Religions and different ancestor cults

The cult of ancestors has been present in the religions and religious expressions of the entire world for centuries.

All cultures give a ritual meaning to the death of loved ones, which becomes a particular tradition for which they are recognized.

Despite being different cults, it is common for each to worship, venerate and show the greatest respect to those ancestors who watch over the living.

The goal of ancestor worship:

It is to thank, respect, give light and ensure well-being in the new existence of the ancestors and their willingness to support the living in their path.

Many of the religions also include in the cult of the ancestors, all kinds of rituals and prayers with the aim of asking for some kind of favor or help, or simply to enlighten them in their new astral. 

But it also implies highlighting the importance of family values, such as respect for the elderly, filial piety, loyalty to the family and continuity of the lineage.

Today, the customs and traditions of ancestor worship in various religions remain a notable social and folkloric component in modern times.

Some of the most popular and recognized cults:

  • In India. Today Hindus perform ritual ceremonies called śraddhá, where they offer oblations (pinda) in the form of wheat or rice cakes to their ancestors. They are called Pitrís in Sanskrit.
  • In Japan. Many Japanese traditions have the goal of worshiping ancestors. One of them is the O-bon or O-Bon or simply Bon, a festival of semi-religious tradition that honors the spirits of the ancestors with numerous signs of respect and remembrance.
  • U.S. and Canada. These countries inherited popular British traditions such as a fall festival called Celtic Samhain that gave rise to Halloween.
  • In Mexico and Central America. The Spanish brought with them many cults and traditions to America. But when living with the natives of the new world there was a syncretism that mixed the traditions and united in the same cult the festivities of All Saints' Day and All Souls with the similar Mesoamerican festival, creating the current Day of the Dead, recognized by world level for its eye-catching celebrations.
  • Native peoples of South America. The Mapuche people still worship their ancestors and ancestors through the veneration of the pillán, a powerful and important type of spirit which the Mapuche can aspire to convert upon death.

America, Africa and syncretism in ancestor worship

In the nations belonging to the old Yoruba Empire, and as a result of the slave practices in times of conquest and colonization, also in many countries of America and the Caribbean, there are religious expressions such as the Santeria or Regla de la Ocha, who center their practices on the cult of Eggun (dead).

In fact, the main precept of the Osha-Ifá religious system is: «Ikú Lobbi Osha» (from death the Orisha is born), which they usually translate as "the dead gave birth to the saint."

What are the Eggun in the Yoruba cult?

The Eggun are the spirits of the deceased ancestors or ancestors, who, through oracles, such as that of the coconut, determine and give permission for the ceremonies to reach Olodumare itself.

In the Yoruba religion, before invoking and asking permission (moyugbar) and greeting the orishas, ​​one must invoke the dead.

Thus we see that reverence for ancestors is one of the pillars of African religions and respect and veneration for them is extremely important and sacred.

In Yoruba mythology it is believed that the orishas were originally living beings and after death they are given the title of deity for the life they knew how to lead here on earth, full of successes and dedicated to the defense of their fellow men.

Attentions and ancestral ceremonies to the Eggun

The cult of Eggun is considered the oldest of the ancestral cults of all religions and is sustained on the basis of honor to the deceased and their care.

It is important to clarify that, in the Rule of the Ocha, the Egguns eat even before they Elegguá the first orisha to be venerated and this attention is carried out separately from the orishas.

A space outside the home is dedicated to them, and there they are offered:

  • Meals, flowers, candles
  • religious rituals and ceremonies
  • Prayers and prayers are dedicated to them.

Eggún is offered drinks and all kinds of food, especially water, coffee and other items that, if they were known ancestors, they liked when they were alive.

Normally, the ceremony of giving food to Eggún is performed, when an oracle determines it.

We must know that the Eggún ceremonies are essential within the Yoruba religion, but also for the Arará and almost all those of African origin.

The spiritual vault as a link to connect with the Spirits

Also dedicated to the ancestors, the so-called spiritual vaults in which they are worshiped, first to thank them, give them light, take care of them and are also invoked when the family is threatened by dangers and needs their advice, help and guidance for any situation.

In the vault there are elements such as flowers, candles, offerings of various types and also crucifixes and glasses of crystalline water that represent the natural connection with these sacred beings.

The veneration of ancestors through respect, offerings and prayers is a common practice for those who venerate the traditions, customs and faith of the great continent.

Learn more about the Eggun and the world of the Dead:

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