Monday, June 6, 2011

My Ancestral Altar

I can't believe that I have blogged this long without talking about the importance of having an altar to your ancestors. Shame on me!

The practice of honoring one's ancestors goes back as far as man can remember and spans all cultures. The spirits of our ancestors are always near us and continue to watch out for, guide, teach, and care for us. The shared knowledge and energy of those that have come before us is always available to those that seek it. This is why it is important for practicing sorcerers to have an altar dedicated to, give regular offerings, and converse with their ancestors. Chances are if you have been drawn to the magical arts that someone in your family along the line also practiced even if you aren't aware of it. Having the spirit of practitioners that have passed on is of obvious benefit to someone performing magic on a regular basis. As one of my ancestors said to me, "What we know, you know. What we can do, you can do". That pretty much should tell you all that you need to know about the importance of maintaining this relationship. Our ancestors have love for us, and do what they can from the other side to ease hardships in our lives. Once you have a relationship with them you will be able to tell when they have had a hand in nudging things in your favor. They lend their hands in all aspects of life such as money, success, love, peace, and protection. They do this even if you aren't aware of them. However honoring and giving thanks to them for what they do certainly makes them more inclined to work on your behalf. I know that some workers send their ancestral spirits on certain tasks and then hold off on feedings and offerings until the task is complete. I don't prefer to work this way myself. I draw upon their energies and knowledge to utilize in my own workings.

Ancestor Altar Covered
Setting up your altar is very simple and personal process.  The altar cloth should be white as should the candles. I keep on white candle, and one reed to symbolize the bond and importance of blood. There should be at least one glass of fresh water that you change every week. Some keep one large glass of water surrounded by 9 small glasses. I don't have room on my altar for that, so I don't.The altar can also be decorated with pictures of your family that have passed on, and items that that they preferred in life (personal items, bibles, etc). One can also include items that represent the cultures and ethnicity of your their ancestors.   You can set it up on a table, dresser, or anywhere that you see fit. Some keep their altars in the living room so include their ancestors in their daily life. I keep mine in the altar room. Do what you think is best.

Close Up Detail of Altar
I personally don't have a lot of close ties with my living family so I don't have access to pictures and the like and I prefer to keep my altar simple. So I have one red, and one white candle, my Ancestral Skull Fetish (see earlier post), a coffin shaped incense burned that I made, and two offering glasses. I also keep my altar covered with a patterned fabric with a skull floral pattern that I use as a head wrap during workings. That is pretty much it. I will be adding a cross soon as they asked for that.  I always keep one glass of fresh water and use the other for offerings of rum or whiskey. They really like whiskey, but I ran out and substituted rum today which I always have on hand. For incense I burn Mayan copal resin on charcoal and also burn a cigar in their honor. I blow some of the smoke onto the skull from the cigar. You can also offer favorite foods, drinks, and even music to your ancestors. Once the offerings are given I proceed with a simple invocation and follow that up with communication via pendulum, or some form of divination. This is the invocation that I use:

We hear your whispered voices speaking words of wisdom into our unconscious minds. Your whispers awaken our dreams, our hearts, our desires. You who are our ancestors who once walked upon the earth and were part of our shared life eternal, we praise you with all that is sacred in our lives.
You who planted the seed of knowledge, you who sought inner peace, you who claimed your love for the Gods and Goddesses of old, we give you honor and praise your name.

Grandmother, without you I would not be here. Grandfather, without you I would not be here. People that have come before and gone ahead, without you I would not be here.

I give you honor and praise your name. We ask you for guidance, for you have the power of knowledge. You have been born in us, part of our being. We draw upon your strength so that we may move ever forward. Your footsteps, we follow as all children will. You are our family and with all the love in my being, I give you honor and call your names.

Ancestors, I praise you with the earth in my palm. I praise you with the fire in my heart. I praise you with my breath as I give offerings to your greatness. I praise you with the blood and water of life within my body. I call forth for you with honor for all eternity.

I believe that originally found that through the Moloch Sorcery site, but have no idea where it originates from. I like it, but free to write your own or just speak from the heart. When working with your ancestors heartfelt offerings, and sincerity are what is really important. It's not about protocol, but honor and reverence. Talk to them, have honest conversation with them and be prepared to really listen to what they have to say. You will be glad that you did.

With Regards,

Brother Ash
"You must have the Devil in you to succeed in the arts." Voltaire
"Don't quote me boy cuz I ain't said shit." Eazy-E


M.C. said...

Very nice... Simple, Well thought out and all encompassing. Very cool

Brother Ash said...

Thank you sir!

Modred said...

How did I miss this blog post? It didn't show up in my feed, so I'm just now reading it. Well done all around.

I did not know that you used a floral headwrap during workings. Interesting. I use a bright and crazy-looking sort of paisley one. I wonder if a brightly colored headwrap is common among witches and sorcerors or just a coincidence?

Anonymous said...

Good post, man. I keep a "White Table" for my mother and her side of the family, most of whom have passed on. It's good and even if I don't often interact with the shades of my ancestors, it's a decent thing to do in and of itself.