t’s the final day of our exploration into the practice of Honoring Our Ancestors and today is all about the gritty details, the HOW.
So, you know what Ancestor you want to work with, you have found an object or item that brings them to mind for you, and maybe you have set that in s specific place where it won’t be disturbed. Now, what do you do?
Here are a number of different ways that you can begin engaging with your Beloved Dead:
• Building an altar, shrine, or house for your Ancestors. This is probably the most common way to begin developing a relationship with them and it does not have to be elaborate. You can simply set out a fresh glass of water by a picture or object you associate with your Ancestor and light some incense as a way to begin.
• Offering favored foods, drinks, clothing, objects, and flowers
• Representing the Ancestor with images, their handwriting, objects they treasured in life, graveyard dirt from their grave, ashes from their body, or other personal concerns
• Keeping a clean home — it is widely agreed that the Ancestors do not like to travel to or hang out in messy, cluttered spaces.
• Working with scent/incense — many cultures agree that of the five primary senses after death only our sense of smell remains fully intact. This is why pungent flowers like marigolds are used to mark out an Ancestral altar because they have a strong fragrance. Incense may be used for the same purpose. When working with scent think of it as building a road to the altar that the Ancestors may follow
• Party at the gravesite! Bring the favorite foods and drinks of your Ancestors to their gravesite where you can sit and have dinner with them!
• In some cultures the Ancestors are understood to remain in/at the altar or shrine all the time, in which case incense may be burned as a regular offering
• Food and drink should either be consumed by the living after remaining on the altar for a set amount of time or it should be discarded
• Consider the altar space of co-creation between yourself and your Ancestors. The primary objective is to honor them but you also want to use items that please you and put you in the right frame of mind to work with them.
• DO NOT offer alcohol to Ancestors who are alcoholics. DO NOT offer chemical substances (like nicotine) to Ancestors who had an addiction to that substance.
And remember, if you are beginning to explore a relationship with your Ancestors for the first time, it is perfectly appropriate to work with ONE at the time.
Now I know that there are a lot of suggestions and directions to go in with this work. You might be feeling a bit overwhelm and when you start receiving signs and communiques from your Ancestors that may leave you feeling ALL the feels.
This is why it’s a really good idea to have a relationship with a Go-Between.
A Go-Between is literally that. A Holy Helper who mediates between one thing and another – in this case the Living and the Dead.
Developing a relationship with a Go-Between gives you a place to begin focusing on your Ancestor work and also provides an extra layer of protection to you and your household as you begin this work.
There are many different Holy Helpers that are appropriate Go-Betweens to work with and I taught at length about this practice in the first week of Story Threads – which opens for registration today! You can learn more right here.