7 ways to venerate ancestors

Before we get into the meat of the list, let’s get one thing straight: Ancestral veneration is not ancestor worship. If you haven’t read my previous article on the subject, go back, read up on the differences, and then come back. Also, this list is not in any particular order.


Invoking their name/Asking for assistance: This is one you can do anywhere at any time. You quite simply ask your gone loved one for assistance with whatever you are facing. Perhaps they were really good at something and you could use a little bit of their touch to do that particular thing. Or you need guidance.


Celebrating a special day: The day they were born, the day they died, their anniversary, whatever day of the week was their favorite, you can do this in many different ways. In some Hoodoo manuals, you will find discussions of setting a table for the dead to invite them to be with you. Doing this on their special day, in remembrance of them is a wonderful way to venerate an ancestor.


Altar offerings: This does require you have somewhere you can leave things out for a while. It might be a display of their favorite flowers, or if they were the kind, liquor and cigarettes. It doesn’t really matter what it is as long as it was something favored by your ancestor. This might be the time to pull out something small that belonged to them and just leave it on the altar. Let them know they are remembered.


Burning candles or incense: Do not leave a burning candle unattended. However, candles and their connection with remembrance go way back. In some spiritual practices, it is common to leave a lit candle in the window so that a spirit can find their way back home. As for incense, scent is the strongest sense tied to memory. Therefore, you can invoke the memory of a person through using a smell that reminds you of them.


Clothing: Do you still have a piece of clothing they wore or favored? Bust it out and wear it. There is also putting their name and face on a t-shirt to remember them by. This is a favorite in the African-American community.


Tattoos: While I would say proceed with caution here, it is not unusual now for people to have tattoos of their honored ancestors on their bodies. You don’t necessarily have to go the portrait route, but a simple remembering of their life and death along with a piece of simple artwork might be just what you need in order to invoke their memory.


Mojo bags: Dedicating a mojo bag to an ancestor allows you to wear them close to you at all times.


Remember, your ancestors do not necessarily have to be the people you know from life. As the saying goes: Thousands of ancestors were necessary to make one you. You may have to dig a little further than just those people whom you personally knew.


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