For those of you who want to either kick off the beginning of your new relationship with your Ancestors OR for those who are looking for a simple way to make them happy, try today since it is Saturday, closest day to Samhain, All Souls day & Day of the Dead.
The Shrine Itself
Use a box, crate, card table, buffet, shelf or wherever you have space handy. It's a shrine, not a working altar. Drape it with a plain white cloth. You can use black if need be but white is the traditional color of the Dead.
Give your Ancestors their favorite foods, coffee, hard liquor, wine, beer/ale, cigars/cigarettes &/or smoking pipes (w/pouch of tobacco), candy, flowers (white carnations or Lilly's work well), non tap water (spring, rain), photographs of newly deceased family members, trinkets (favored lighters, combs, brushes, whatever) and so on. Just present the items to the Four Cardinal Points with a plain white tea light candle.
Interacting With Your Ancestral Shrine
Simply sit and talk with your Ancestors. Tell them what's going on in your life. Read them news articles from the paper. Inform them of what's going on in the world today. Tell them of your achievements (however small or insignificant they may seem) as well as your losses or failures. Tell them of your future plans, ideas, inspirations.
Feel free to tell your Ancestors to come to you in your dreams and talk with you anytime they feel moved to do so. Remember, this is about building (&/or maintaining) a relationship with your Ancestors more so than it is to do any sort of working.
But I Didn’t Like My Family When They Were Alive
Really? Well no one said that your family has to be on par with the Waltons for you to form a strong bond with them, did they? Family is family. We can choose our friends but not who we’re born into, right? When you’re dealt lemons, make lemonade.
When I tell folks to make amends with their Ancestors - parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, siblings, all I usually hear is whining, resentment & downright anger at this notion.
“My aunt Judy was a horrible person while alive! Why should she give a rat’s ass about me after she’s dead?”
First off she will because Death changes people. It’s not final nor is it true entropy. Our souls & Spirits live on. There’s time to think, process & figure out our mistakes in life. Secondly, your other Ancestors will encourage her to make amends with you so you have to try to big about it & do the same in return.
There's a foolish misconception that some McWiccans & CM's have been passing around for years that if Uncle Joe was a rotten turd while alive, then he is so once he's dead. Says who?
Death is a time of CHANGE and that's not just a physical change but also mental one as well. Hello? It changes ones perspective. A lot of people leave this world feeling self-righteous but once over on the other side, they want to make amends so they can rest or move on. Give them the chance to do so.
If you notice, this is also about helping YOU change not just helping Cousin Abe to rest. It’s a symbiotic opportunity to mend things between you. Yes I know many family members may have done heinous things. Okay if you are unable to forgive them, then that is your choice.
I understand that you may have been sexual raped by a family member(s) and yes that would be very difficult to forgive. Okay do not place that family member onto your Ancestral Shrine. Reserve their space for other Ancestors who are worthy.
But I’m Adopted!
So what? Consider yourself fortunate because you now have not one but TWO lines of Ancestors who care about you!
Your adopted family’s ancestors would care for you. Why? Well you have been ‘adopted’ which means in this instance brought into the family. You’re now one of them and they will fight for you just as if you were a blood relative. Doubt me? Try it. See for yourself. Put photos of your adopted family’s ancestors on your shrine.
Then you also have your blood relatives that you don’t know BUT they know you! How? You carry their blood, their very DNA in your veins & body. They know who you are, where you are & who you’re with.
The way to make contact with them is simply to say something like, “Ancestors! I do not know who you are because I was adopted and therefore do not know your names. Please come & tell me who you are in my dreams so that I can know you!”
Then pay attention to your dreams. Eventually you’ll see images of people - possibly old photographs or someone in your dreams who walks up to you and tells you stories. That’s an Ancestor trying to communicate with you. No need for Lucid Dreaming here but more pay attention to your dreams & write them down upon waking. Eventually you’ll get better at remember them & then can spend time talking with your Ancestors.
You want to have a relationship with your Ancestors because they are both your first & last line of defense against attacks, bad magic, mean Spirits and they can go to bat for you to the Spirits defending you when others want to persecute you for petty reasons.
Feed them. Give them liquids to drink. Give them what they liked in life. Coffee, tea, milk, pop, hard liquor, wine, beer, water - whatever. You don’t have to light up the cigar or cigarettes just put them on the shrine next to the photograph of whoever liked to smoke.