The number one thing to remember about venerating an ancestor is that it is a unique to each individual process. No one can tell you what your ancestor wants, they can only point. It's up to you to find out through spiritual reflection and attempting to contact that ancestor yourself.
But before we get into all of that, let's first define some terms.
Veneration means great reverence or respect.
This is in contrast to worship which is an action of having great reverence or respect for a deity. While there is a recognition of the divinity in all of us, many of us will draw the line at worshipping our ancestors as gods. However, that does not mean one shouldn't have an altar space or other trappings to celebrate those in your family who have gone before. In Hoodoo, as with certain other magical practices, we venerate our ancestors by providing them with a space in our lives. Now this space doesn't necessarily have to be a full on altar space because that may be impractical. It could be something as simple as a picture of this person as they were in life set in a prominent place. So you can venerate your ancestor without worshipping them.
Why should you venerate your ancestors.
Here's where we get into the magik part of things. In Hoodoo, the ancestors exist in a plane beyond our own but are very capable of touching our lives on a regular basis. They give guidance and may even take a stronger hand in things as necessary. Because they can and do touch our lives, ancestors should be treated with respect.
Now, this is not to say there is no speaking ill of the dead. If they were a mean ol' cuss in life, they weren't made into angels in death, so be aware. All ancestors may not be out for your good, just be aware and use your judgement. If your own judgement is saying no, while an ancestor is saying yes, tread carefully.
How do we venerate our ancestors.
There are a number of ways to venerate the ancestors. Most traditionally, there is the altar space dedicated to our ancestors where we can leave offerings and gather insights from their wisdom. Having pictures of them, or lacking that, knowledge of their names, can give you the basis for an altar space. If you knew them in life and they were close to you, perhaps you even know some of their favorite things which might summon their spirit to your home. But, as I said before, an altar might be impractical; especially if you're still a closeted witch and you don't want to make a show of your veneration.
In Hoodoo, we venerate our ancestors by providing them with a space in our lives.
There are other ways. There's making something special, but useful, in their honor. Perhaps your grandmother was a quilt or a crochet person, this is a way to invite the ancestor's presence into your home without having anything overtly magikal. Another idea is to celebrate their special days, such as the anniversary of their death or their birthday. You don't have to make them a cake or anything, but contemplate them on their day and spiritually invite them to speak to you.
There are as many ways to love those who came before as there are people on this earth; so, go ahead and find your own way to love your ancestors and invite them into your life.
Veneration of the ancestors is a strong part of the spiritual practice of Hoodoo. Therefore, it is good to know how to do it so that you can benefit from the insight of those who have come before.
Alledria Hurt is an author and relative newcomer to the world of paganism, but a quick study. She is also the owner of Sista Ghoul Booktique, a small bookshop currently located in the back of Cosmic Corner.