Ritualising Your Life
Communicating With Your Ancestors
Our most frequently asked question is ‘How can I connect with my ancestors?’ The reality is you already are but not conscious of it.
It is easy to get caught up in the belief of separation due to death, not knowing a family member or being removed from your ancestral home and culture. However, the most important thing to remember is your ancestors are you; they are part of your genetic make up. Every memory, experience and characteristic exist within your DNA. For example, you may have a child who not only exhibits a striking similarity but also similar mannerisms to a grandparent they have never even met. It is imperative to note that the connection with ancestors transcends time and space.
There are various ways to communicate with your ancestors and here are a few examples…
Setting up a sacred space in your home can be very beneficial for creating a place of peace, meditation, focused thought and to allow necessary time out from our busy lives. This process facilitates a ritual setting to connect with higher aspects of ourselves.
There is no right or wrong way to setting up an altar. You can use a table and cover with a cloth and add items that are related to your intention. You may wish to add a photograph of a family member and an item that reminds you of them. You could also light a candle and add a glass of water to the altar as well as stones, crystals or flowers. Your intuition will guide you on what to add. You can go to this area when wanting to make communication with a loved one.
Note it is advised that you should connect with positive ancestors within your lineage who lived a life of beneficence to others and were exemplary in the way they lived their lives.
The relationship between the departed and the living never ceases to exist and just like any other relationship, respect is key. When communicating with a loved one show respect and gratitude. Call them by name, if you do not know any of your ancestors’ names ask for the positive ancestors within your lineage to come through to help, protect and guide you. Start by building up a relationship with them, you may need to do a few sessions before you can recognise the signs of communication in return, but they will come, be patient. (See previous blog The Language of symbolism for information on spirit communication and recognising signs).
Libation is a traditional form of prayer, which can be found all over the ancient world particularly across African cultures. This tradition can be found on temple walls in Egypt and still is prevalent across the various communities on the continent today.
Traditionally libation was carried out using water. This primordial element represents purity, cleansing and vitality as it is one if the major aspects which makes up the planet and our bodies.
The act of libation is usually done outside, pouring water gently onto the earth in short bursts accompanied by prayer. You can call the name of the ancestor(s) you would like to acknowledge whilst pouring the liquid and stating your prayer. Some people pour libation in the morning to give thanks for the new day or to commemorate a special occasion. You can incorporate libations in your life as a way of invoking the energy of ancestors and energies of the cosmos.
Over time other liquids have been used for libation including alcohol; usually gin or palm wine. I would recommend starting with water.
The notion of giving offerings is a global concept found in many spiritual traditions, religions and cultures. In African communities offerings can take many forms including leaving a small portion of food for ancestors at meal times, pouring palm oil to the earth, adding flowers to an ancestral altar etc. There are various ways to reflect this gesture, which is ultimately to show respect and acknowledge the energies you are trying to connect with. The symbolic act of giving spiritually opens up the pathway to receiving your intent requested in the ritual, in a reciprocating cycle.
Just like anything else you will need to work at it and be consistent but they will respond to you, be patient and increase your awareness and pay attention to all forms of signs and symbols that will appear around you as these show what communication you are receiving in return.
Remember to read The Language of symbolism for insight into recognising spirit communication.
Further information on the role of ancestors can be found in our film Ancestral Voices: Spirit is Eternal.