October is the month that Mother Nature shows off the colors of the Season. The nights get cooler as the days still are warm in the afternoons and the trees give off wonderful golds, oranges and ambers as they drop their leaves. This time of year is also known for the Pagan and Christian celebrations that brought us Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Read more about the three days surrounding this time of year here: Free Candle Spells | Honoring Your Ancestors (Time of the Year)“. This time, before we march into the winter months and cocoon to dream of bright futures, is Nature’s way of teaching us that there is a cycle in Life: birth, living, and then death, and the process repeats itself over and over. It is an opportune time to consider making an Ancestral Altar for your family lineage.
Setting up an altar for the loved ones in your family that have passed on is meaningful on many levels. An ancestor altar gives you a space to visit and connect with those who have passed, both known and unknown, and gives you a place to weep, mourn, remember and laugh. An ancestor altar is also a place of safe refuge when the World seems to be beating you with a stick. It is a place to sit in silence and ask for insight and wait for ideas to pop into your head to solve the problems of living in this world. In my Tarot card deck, I have an Ancestors card, and when it comes up in a client’s reading, depending on it being upright or reversed, it tells the client that they are their to help, as our ancestors are given the task to guide their progeny through their walk on Earth. Your ancestors will guide and protect you, but you must be receptive to the lessons and insight given, whether you like it or not. In the Bible, Exodus 20:12 tells us to “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord you God is giving you.”
Setting Up an Ancestor Altar
First, you need to determine a quiet place in your home for your ancestor altar. Considering that houses with children are noisier than adult houses, you may need to place your altar in a quieter den or corner of a back room so that their Spirits will not get upset. Do not place your ancestor altar in your bedroom, as this is disrespectful. Even a corner of the dining room is preferable than a bedroom for the altar. If you are blessed with a guest room or den, use it until you have guests visit, then you can move to another part of the house. A simple ancestor altar is a small table with a white cloth or doily, a glass of cool water and a photograph of those that have passed. Do not place photos of both living and deceased relatives on the table, as you may be inviting the living relative to pass over to the Spirit world. this ancestor altar is for your own blood line family, although some exception could be a non-relative that was “adopted” into the family, like a long term babysitter or a close friend that was always present at family gatherings and in your home.
Like other altars you may have on your home, an ancestor altar will grow larger as your spiritual connection with them grows. You will be given ideas and impulses to purchase and add items that ill bring their memory back, such as Grandpa’s Lucky Strikes cigarettes or Grandma’s Tabu perfume. You may want to add other personal items like a favorite bottle of brandy that you may pour out a shot glass full every once in a while. This inspiration will come from your memories of your loved ones as they connect with you and look down on you from Heaven to guide you through your walk. As you begin to create this special place, here are some general ideas to get you started with your Ancestor Altar.
Items you will need:
1.) A place to set up your altar. This could be an end table, accent table or small bookcase top. Many families set up their altar inconspicuously on the hutch in the dining room.
2.) White table covering such as a linen tablecloth or lace doily. You may add another color as an accent color if you know that was a special color to them.
3.) A photograph of the relatives you would want to honor. Please do not place any photographs of living people on this altar as to do so may cause then to become sick and die. Do not place any photos of relatives who have harmed you in any way as you do not want their guidance and spirit in your home to cause an further harm to you.
4.) A glass of cool water, preferably in glass, not plastic. One large brandy snifter or crystal water goblet is fine. You do not have to purchase new glasses; you can pick these up at the thrift store. You may also want to obtain a coffee cup or demitasse cup and saucer to offer black coffee to them after awhile. You may also want to get a small clear glass shot glass for whiskey or a preferred liquor and also another for Florida Water or Kananga Water to attract your ancestors.
5.) A white candle to burn for them to see your devotion and attract their blessings. It does not matter whether you use a 7 day novena-type vigil candle or tea lights, the meaning is the same.
Other items throughout the year may be flowers in a vase, a glass of wine, a slice of birthday cake or a small plate of turkey and all the fixin’s during Thanksgiving, a piece of candy on Valentine’s day, etc. Leave these food items overnight and toss into the trash the next day as they have absorbed the aroma and energy of the food offering and you will attract ants and such if left too long.
Prayers for the Ancestors
Once you have assembled your items and created your altar, you may begin praying for thier souls and asking them to communicate with you and send blessings and guidance to you. Here is a sample prayer that you can begin with, adding a more personalized note after establishing a connection with your loved ones.
Blessed is God, who looks down upon His children here on Earth. I ask that you look upon and bless this altar that I have set to honor my relatives, ancestors, mothers and fathers who came before me. I ask for blessings of peace, safety and tranquility in this space set for them and for protection for me ant my family, from any harm. AMEN.
I call upon you, ancestors of my family lineage, both known and unknown to me. I call all who have kinship to me and with me and aid me in my walk and wish me no ill will.
I call upon (insert all names of your relatives known to you that have passed), and ask that you hear me in my prayers and see this space that I have set for you to come to bless me any my family. I bless you and honor you with these offerings that cool and refresh you. I ask that you love and support all my intentions and the intentions of my family and that you will protect us from harm.
You may choose to change the water every morning before your prayer, but some make a weekly change, usually on a Sunday or a Friday, depending on their beliefs. From time to time, you may want to offer a cup of black coffee and an unlit cigar laid across the rim of the cup. Leave on altar for 24 to 48 hours and discard in trash/sink when done. It is wise to offer food items occasionally to give them time to bless you for your offerings.