Connecting with Your Ancestors Through the Expressive Arts

We are in this special window of time during the year’s cycle where things are slowing down, we can feel the daylight shortening, and Summer is growing ever smaller in our rear view mirror. However, we are not yet in the holiday rush. Okay, so some of you Super Planners may be feeling the holiday wave rushing in, and we’ll be honest, we have definitely thought about it a bit! Yet the fullness (crushing intensity?) of that time has not yet begun. It’s a wonderful opportunity to savor the stillness and slowing down that Autumn can bring. Here in Southern California we are awash with Santa Ana winds that drive up the heat and evaporate any and all moisture. The winds can also bring a kind of desert stillness that seems to stretch for miles. While my spirit still longs for an East Coast Autumn full of crisp colors, leaves and the kind of warmth generated by scarves and jackets, I have come to appreciate the way that the season appears here. No matter how Autumn appears for you outside your door, those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are primed for a season of harvest, release and preparation for Winter. I love this time because the stillness helps increase my level of presence to my life and I find myself frequently pausing to savor all the gifts that surround me.

This time of year is also a wonderful opportunity to honor our ancestors; one of my favorite things to do! In light of the magical window of early Autumn and in gratitude for those who have come before us, I wanted to share a simple creative ritual to help anchor further into the season. I invite you to give yourself 10 - 15 minutes. If that feels too much, aim for 5 minutes. This is also fun to do with a partner or in small groups.


  • pen/pencil and paper

  • crayons/markers/colored pencils

  • candle

  • item or photo of a loved one you would like to honor


  • Create a loving space for yourself. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea or iced beverage. Decide if you want to be indoors or out.

  • In your space place the items you have gathered and light your candle.

  • Ground into your loving space by feeling your feet on the ground and allowing the breath to flow in and out of your lungs in spacious breaths. Allow the breath to be cleansing. Invite yourself to fully be present in this moment. Just notice how you feel.

  • Hold the photo or item in your hands, close your eyes and continue breathing. Imagine yourself sitting with your loved one, breathing together.

  • When you feel complete, return to your loving space and get out your paper and art supplies. Fill the page with any lines, shapes and colors that capture your experience breathing and being with your ancestor.

  • Write down any words or phrases onto the page that may have arisen.

Depending on your timing, you can stop here by closing with gratitude to your ancestor in the same manner in which you welcomed him/her to be present.

  • Have more time? Turn your paper over and explore these journal prompts:

    • Ancestor, what I really want you to know is…..

    • During this time of year, I feel and notice….

    • I am grateful for….

  • Share your writing with your Ancestor. In your loving space, share what you have written or anything you want to express to your ancestor aloud. There is no wrong way to do this. Let it be an expression of you. Perhaps you want to sing it or dance it or poetically share your words.

  • When you feel complete, thank your ancestor for hearing and witnessing you. Thank yourself for carving out intentional time that is connective and meaningful.

To continue to root into and deepen this experience, you can place your candle and art work somewhere in your home and revisit it when you feel called.

I would love to see your creations and hear about your experiences! May you feel held during this time of transition and flux. May we release what is ready to go and fill our hearts with gratitude for all that we have.

Thank you for joining me here!