Updated: Jun 10, 2020
When learning more about African Spirituality, as well as the different branches that come from it, the first thing you learn the most about is ancestors. They are the key to getting things done, they are the ones who protect us from those who wish ill on us, and they are the ones who make our gifts greater, and stronger. We just have to be able to talk to them, give them thanks for all the blessings they have given us, and understand the best ways to give to them continuously to keep them happy, and strong. Let's go into learning a little more about the basics, before we dive into the stronger parts of it all.
An ancestor altar is a sacred space just for your ancestors. You want to have the elements of nature on it, as well as pictures of your deceased loved ones, or even a paper with their names written on it as well. The natural elements are air (incense), fire ( candles), water (glass of water), and earth( plants, crystals, stones). You want to keep your altar in a secluded, hidden space, or if you don't want to do that, put it in a corner where you know no one will touch it or go around it. My kids and I talk to our ancestors as much as we can together, and no one comes in my house anyway, So my altar is out.
Getting to Know Them
Now, if you're like me, My mom was adopted, and I don't know my biological father's side, nor him, so you probably are wondering if you can even get in contact with your ancestors. Well, you can. The people who were in your life, and loved you as their own, and saw nothing less than that, they can be called on as your ancestors. Another way to call on them, is to be very specific! Here is a chant that I start with, that has always worked for me in my rituals, callings, offerings, like, everything in life.
" I call upon my ancestors benevolent, and most honorable, who only have my best interests at heart, to guide, protect, and bless me..." and then I say what I want to say to them. Again, this is what works well for me. But it has worked well with others I've mentored as well. If you want to learn your ancestors that are over you by their name, ask for a reading by a medium. They will help you get closer into knowing you gifts, and who you are.
Offerings, Favors, and the Inbetween
You want to keep your ancestors to yourself, and keep them strong? You gotta give to them! Food, fruits, water, liquor, tobacco, hell notes (ancestor money), words, conversations, all of that. Offerings like these help make them stronger, keep them with you, because trust me, other workers know how to steal ancestors from you, if you aren't giving to them, or loving on them. Simple things you can do, is keep their altar clean. Dust it often, wipe it down with Florida Water, or even Whiskey, or Rum, and pray protection over it. Light white candles when you're about to give them an offering. It acts as a doorbell, to let them know you have offerings coming their way. Food offerings can be done two different ways: one way, which is more traditional, is to give them their separate plate, on their altar. it's up to you how long you want to leave it out, I usually do a night, and throw the food away, but you don't want it to stay until it molds, that is highly disrespectful to them, to leave moldy food on their altar. With hell notes, I'm always specific with who I burn my notes to, because you don't want just anyone getting hard earned hell notes! Everyday, talk to them, burn a candle and allow them to speak to you. sit down and have a meal with them as well. They will become stronger for you, and help you with all your spiritual needs, and help your manifestations grow tremendously. When you don't care for them, they become weak, and start to feel neglected, and can't bring you strength and guidance. It's also easy when your ancestors are neglected, that other workers can call your ancestors by their names, and tell them that they'll take better care of them, and guess what? You lose them, Which makes you open to spiritual attacks, because your protection isn't as strong as it should be.
If you don't have an altar set up, or you feel it's really hard to have one where you are, you can do travel altars as well. Use little candles, stones, travel incense, and a paper with your ancestors names on it, in a small, sturdy box, as a small travel altar. Your ancestors are with you all the time. Show them the love, and respect, and watch them strengthen you to your highest potential.