Friday, November 30, 2012

The Ancestral Altar

Anyone who wishes to develop a Voodoo spiritual practice should create an ancestral altar first. This altar can honor your biological ancestors, the universal archetypal ancestors, or both. Any and all connection to the spirit world is dependent upon the strength of your ancestral connection.
There are an endless variety of ways in which to create an ancestral altar. The following are some guidelines to get you started. Follow your intuition when creating your altar, and feel free to add to or subtract from the suggestions below.

How to Create an Ancestral Altar

To create an altar you will need:

••A table, flat stone, or shelf
••White cloth
••Photos and mementos of your ancestors
••White candle
••Glass or crystal bowl of water
••Fresh-cut flowers
••A portion of each meal of the day
••A dish with nine different types of earth, including graveyard dirt

Drape the white cloth over the table or shelf. If using a stone, leave it bare. Place the glass bowl of water in the center of the table and the white candle behind the bowl. Arrange the photos and mementos, flowers, and bowl of earth on the altar in a manner that pleases you. The bowl of food should go in front of the bowl of water. You can add a small white candle in the bowl of food as well.

How to Address the Ancestors

First, light the incense to purify your surroundings. Sprinkle a little fresh water on the items on your altar, including the earth, to give respect to your ancestors. Light your candle and offer it to the four sacred directions—east, west, north, and south—then place it behind the bowl of water. Begin speaking to your ancestors by introducing yourself. Say something like,

“Greetings, ancestors, my name is ___________________, son/daughter of ____________________ and __________________, and I come with a pure heart to honor you with these offerings.

“I honor [Say all of your ancestors names out loud]. I honor all of those remembered and forgotten, who were associated with my ancestors as friends, companions, and loved ones. I love, honor, and respect all who have gone before me.

“To all my relations, all grandmothers and grandfathers, all elders and ancient ones, to all the creatures, plants, and living things of our Mother Earth, I offer my reverence and gratitude. I thank you for your guidance and protection, seen and unseen.

“For all those who suffered so that we may carry on the traditions, for those who died prematurely, in a violent manner, or to anyone in particular need, I offer this special prayer so that you may rest in peace through the intercession of the four archangels and the Seven African Powers.”

You can say the prayer to the Seven African Powers here or another prayer of your preference, followed by a sincere prayer of your own. You can now talk to your ancestors about your problems and ask them for guidance. When you are finished, offer them the food and drink and thank them for listening. Take a moment and meditate on your life, focusing on your blessings and abundance. Visualize passing on all that is good to your ancestors who have gone before you and to those yet to come. To conclude, pour water on the ground and say “Aché!” Let the candles burn out if possible.

At any time, you can focus on the positive aspects of your loved ones and pour water for them. Do this daily or weekly, while saying their names out loud. You can remember them by offering them some of the food you eat every day. A point of clarification: we do not worship our ancestors. We honor and respect them, and ask for their guidance.(29)

29. From A Guide to Serving the Seven African Powers by Denise Alvarado.

*Excerpted from the Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook by Denise Alvarado. Copyright 2011-1012 All rights reserved worldwide.