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Stories of Spirit…Honoring the Ancestors [part 1/setting up an Altar]

Years ago I met a Medicine Woman from Guatemala.  When she found out I was a Medium, she told me that I needed to be leaving offerings for the Spirits every time I worked with them, particularly food offerings.  I thought on this and then asked Adam (my doorman/spirit guide) if he really needed me to leave him food every time I worked/communicated with the Beloved Dead.  In my mind I was imagining leaving food outside in my sacred space & the amount of wild animals that would soon be congregating in my yard feasting on the offerings.  I work with the Beloved Dead on average 3-4 times a week…that’s a lot of food & a lot of critters.  Adam said he did not think it was necessary and that a simple thank you (which I already was doing) was enough.  That being said, from time to time he will ask me to eat or drink something that he misses very badly.

I do believe it is important to honor, give thanks and leave offerings for our Loved Ones in Spirit, specially in the Fall when the Veil between the Living & Dead is so thin.  During the lead up to Samhain/Halloween the Spirit World becomes restless and more present in our world.  The Veil (barrier) between our worlds is thinning and they often find themselves homesick for their families and the lives they have left behind.  This makes sense when you think on the energy present in Autumn…things are fading; plants are going dormant, trees are slipping into their deep sleep & animals are preparing for hibernation.  The land feels sleepy & you can feel the unseen world more fully.

One of the best ways to honor your Beloved Dead is by setting up a Family Altar.  A Family Altar is a a shelf or table top set up with sentimental items (pictures, mementos, personal items).  One of the biggest things to remember when setting up an Altar is that everything on an Altar is placed there with intention.

Here is what you will need…

ALTAR SPACE- a shelf, window sill, or dresser top

PICTURES-photos, paintings, drawings of your Ancestors & Loved Ones who have passed into Spirit

MEMENTOS- jewelry, coins, tools, journals, letter, postcards, ornaments, sentimental items from your Dead

OFFERINGS- flowers, candles, tobacco, incense, alcohol, food, etc.

Once you have gathered your items, set about making your Altar beautiful to look at.  Remember nothing on your Altar is placed there haphazardly.  Set up the pictures of your family members (if you have family members from both sides place one family on one side of the Altar and the other family on the other/no need for separate Altars).  Decorate your Altar with the Mementos you have collected.  Place a candle on the Altar to light when you want to spend time thinking on/visiting your loved ones.

Offerings-When placing offerings on your Altar it is important to remember that the items will not physically be consumed.  When I leave a cigarette on my Altar for my Dad or Grandmother, they are not going to smoke it…they may try to get me to smoke it, but I am not going to come home and have a cigarette butt lying on my Altar instead of a full un-smoked cigarette.  Alcohol and food placed on the Altar will also not  be physically consumed.  With food it is a good idea to leave it for a day or two then remove it yourself.  Know that it is the energy of the item they are actually consuming.

It is a nice idea to set up your Altar around the beginning of Fall.  The Autumn Equinox is this Wednesday the 23rd, so anytime this week would be ideal.  Leave the Altar up throughout the Fall until after Samhain/Halloween.  You are more then welcome to keep a Family Altar up throughout the year, but for those of you new to such things…try it out for the Fall & see how you like it.  When we acknowledge our Beloved Dead (friends, family, loved ones & ancestors) we will find that we begin to feel them more strongly & that their presence is comforting.

I will be talking about Ancestor Honoring all week Folks, so make sure to stop back by for more…Hope you enjoyed the read & share with your friends if you like.

spreading love-salicrow

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