Beginner's Guide to Ancestor Altars

Ancestor altars are vital in our spiritual journeys as well as our spiritual & physical protection. By setting up an ancestor altar, you are honoring those who came before you for centuries! Can you imagine the relentless and passionate ancestor Spirits you have just waiting to get to work? Altars don’t have to be extravagant on day 1, start off simple and add your own personal altar tools over time. An easy way to start is by honoring the elements;

Water: A cup of fresh, cool water. The more cups the better, switch them out weekly. Spirits been parched, get them a shot of liquor too. Bonus if you know their drink of choice. 

Earth: I like to keep my house plants surrounding my working altar to promote growth in all areas. Fresh flowers are key in keeping the energy vibrant on your altar. I recommend white carnations or roses, but any plant will do. Crystals are also present on both my ancestor and working altars. I’ll make a post on crystals at another time, but I would recommend root chakra red/brown/black crystals for grounding if this is your first altar. Obsidian, carnelian, or pyrite are some that I would recommend.

You can bowl of sea salt on my altar to purify any troubled Spirits. This is especially necessary for people with problematic ancestors.

Fire: Candles or resin will do here. Whether it’s a 7 day candle or a small tea light candle, try to keep the energy at your altar warm and welcoming. 

Air: Diffusing essential oils can significantly raise the vibration in any space. I would recommend camphor, frankincense or lemongrass. I would get a pack of oils and find your preferred scent. Incense can work here too. 

Make sure to pick a sacred space for your altar away from children and pets. Your altar should also not be in your bedroom.

Photos of your ancestors are recommended but absolutely not necessary. Make sure there are only photos of the dead on your altar, no group photos with the living. Try to keep it in your bloodline; I keep photos of friends who have passed away close by. Be sure to try and take time out of your busy day to be still at your altar as often as possible, even if only for a few moments. I do this in my morning before I start my day, say good morning, make them some coffee and ask for their blessings and protection.

Use your intuition and add any items to your altar that you feel called to include. Ask your family and Spirits to let you know if they had any favorite food or trinkets that you can place on your altar over time.



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