|What Lep said. Feed them. Preferably with food and drink that you think they might have enjoyed in life. Do it regularly, every sunday is good. Doesnt have to be a big deal. Just a serving of food, maybe a shot of whisky or something . Name the ancestors you can name, but honour the one's you can't name as well. Something like: "Honour to you who have gone before, you who are named, you who are nameless, the roots and branches of the tree of being of which I'm a part" is my general opening. If you don't already have it, you might want a glass of water and a white candle on the altar. Replace the water every week and relight the candle for them. |
So far, not a peep from my peeps and Iíve been wondering if Iím doing this right.
You've only been doing it for five minutes! I still feel like I'm just in the shallow end of this practice after five years! Ancestor work is cumulative, a bit like Tai Chi. If you and previous generations havent been feeding them and taking care of them, you generally have to work to rebuild that connection before you start getting clear results. I tend to think of their state as a huge ancestral soup, which is called "the waters below" in Vodou. I think of them splashing around in that, like a giant cosmic flotation tank, not entirely aware of themselves as individuals until you help them remember through interaction and service. In Haiti, there is a whole 'science' for getting the dead back on line and housing them in clay jars, where they can continue to play an active role in the community, after they have been in the waters below for a year and a day. Certain aspects of these ceremonies would be fairly difficult to accomplish within our culture, unlike in Haiti where the whole family and community would be involved and Vodou is a part of everyday life. So I think of the ancestral altar method of communication as a low tech version of this process.
The ancestors near the surface of the waters, being the more recently dead, do tend to be easier to communicate with, perhaps because they retain more sense of themselves. Also, if you knew them in life, they will already have an existing relationship with you. The more you feed and interact with the ancestors, the further you deepen the connection, and you might find older ancestors coming through. Sometimes I get a sense that the recent ancestors act as go betweens between you and the ancients.
It would be a mistake to expect results of a similar nature to the water elemental, as it's a very different operation. Ancestor work is very symbiotic. Again, like Lep said, looking after them, so they can look after you, so you can look after them, so they can... It's a long term thing and it's about taking care of them and building a strong link to them, not about doing a quick ritual to get some cool dead magician ancestor guy to come through and tell you how to do the family's ancestral sorcery. That may well happen, but it will just be one result of the ongoing ancestor work, not the sole purpose of it. If there are people like that in you family, going way back, then you have to build a road for them to walk. You can't be selective about ancestor work, you ultimately have to accept them, because the reality is that they existed and you are a product of them. It's best not to approach it functionally, as if you're trying to "get" something from them, or trying to cut some kind of a deal with them. They are your family, not the Goetia. It's better thought of as a celebration of what you are and where you have come from. By celebrating the ancestors, you are feeding and nourishing the roots of your being.