One of three days, August 24, October 5 and November 8, when the Mundus, an area, generally in a city, which was considered to be a portal or access point to the Otherworlds, both upper and under, was opened to make offerings of the Fruits of the Harvest to the Blessed Dead, the Manes, in Rome and a number of other Roman cities.
To participate in the traditional manner, place your offerings of seasonal fruits in a sacred place you consider to be a portal to the Otherworlds - hedge, gateway, lake, or even cemetery; then offer prayers to your dead ancestors. Light a candle for them at your altar or ancestor shrine and, again, make appropriate prayers or just speak to them.
Sound familiar? Yes, it is very like Hallows or Samhain. There are three Roman festival days which one could align to the three harvest festivals that modern Pagans and Polytheists honor - August 24th would be most closely related to Lammas, October 5th to the Autumn Equinox, and November 8th to Hallows/Samhain. Of course, our Ancestors should be remembered throughout the year, at least weekly, but these "Days to Honor the Manes" have become an important part of my Ancestor veneration practice.
In the work that I do, I encounter many people who feel they are cursed or crossed, or have, in general, very bad luck. Ninety five to ninety nine per cent feel someone is "hexing" them. While this may be true in some cases, many times that feeling of things not being right can be attributed to your lack of honoring your Ancestors. As Laura Patsouris states in her book, Weaving Memory, A Guide to Honoring the Ancestors, (click on my Amazon Affiliates widget to the right of this post),
"Many of us have noticed that the dead, in general, are becoming increasingly restless and upset about the lack of honor given to them... There is no better protection from random angry dead people than having your Ancestral house strong and in order. This is because, when your ties to your ancestors are strong and well-nourished, they will protect you from the angry dead..."
Your practice and link to your Ancestors, be they of blood, breed, or friendship, is an important spiritual practice, especially for those of us who are called to work with the dead. You do not want to begin working with the dead until, again in the words of Laura, your Ancestral house is in order.
Many people who practice Ancestor veneration find that their Ancestors are just waiting to be called, because they love you. They want to assist you, they are strong protection. Yes, there are family issues and Ancestors you will not want to include, that's fine, you choose which Ancestors to honor, it is up to you.
Blessings dark and deep!
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