The Ancestors are those who came before us; that may be family, or it could be those who inhabited our land many hundreds of years ago. Ancestors can include anyone who came before you, given that you have respect and love for them, and that you have something that you’re carrying on from them. This could be an honored tradition that you promise to keep, land that you’ve sworn to protect, or, most commonly, lineage. This ritual is fairly simple, but runs off of the assumption that you desire or have a close, personal relationship with the ancestor(s) of your choosing.
For this ritual, you will need a small meal or snack as an offering, two cups and a drink, a candle, an effigy or representation of your ancestor(s), and a bell. You may find it easier to perform this ritual at a designated holy space, like an altar, but I’d recommend a communal space where families generally meet, like a dinner table. This is dependent upon personal preference and practicality.
Sit comfortably in a chair and place the food in front of the effigy. Breathe in deeply, and on the out-breath, light the candle. For a few moments, watch the flame dance. See how the light plays on the shadows of your effigy, how it illuminates different aspects in new ways that you never noticed before. When you feel calm, almost as though you’ve drifted away into the flame, allow a smile to spread across your face. Just like with any other loved one, be ready to show your ancestor(s) that you’re glad to see them.
Ring the bell once. Listen to the sound as it echoes in your ears. Ring it again and feel its energy fill your space. Ring it one last time, to summon your beloved dead. If you have something you can safely burn the offering in, light the food within this receptacle now. Focus on the effigy. When you feel their presence, greet them. Invite them to sit with you, and eat what you’ve prepared for them. Pour the drinks and place one in front of them. Even if you knew them in life, introduce yourself. Explain to them who they are to you (e.g. an inspiration), and why you chose to summon them.
From here, create a dialogue. Explain how you feel about them, talk to them, tell them about yourself and your life. Only speak with positivity, and maintain your smile (when appropriate). Hold your drink in your hand, and sip it every once in a while if you feel yourself running away on a tangent or if you need to refocus.
When you’ve run out of things to say, allow your ancestor to speak. Do this by focusing on the effigy again, and bringing yourself into a meditative state. Meditate on the effigy, what it is, and why it represents your ancestor(s). This is how they will speak to you. Don’t eliminate thoughts as you normally would attempt in meditation. Allow thoughts to come and go, as these could be messages from your beloved dead. Keep focused, but not strict.
You may, at this point, wish to respond. This call and response can be repeated indefinitely, and should flow as a normal conversation normally would. When you’re no longer receiving messages or feel at peace with the ritual, ring the bell another three times. If you were burning the offering, you may put it out at this point (the drink you poured for your ancestor will do, so long as it’s nonalcoholic). Let your ancestor(s) know that they are free to go in whatever way suits you (merry meet, merry part; stay if you will, go if you must; etc.).
Breathe in deeply, and blow out your candle. Your ritual is finished, but know that your ancestors are still all around you.
I would recommend burying the offering. However, even that is not always an option. If you need to throw it in the trash, place it in a separate bag from the general waste and, if you have some, sprinkle it with moon water. The same can be done with an unburned offering, as fire is not always an option. The drink can be poured down the sink.
Beautifully written by Jasmine Scarlatos