On March 30th, I posted an image of my Ancestor altar in its infancy. My altar at that time reflected my young relationship with my Ancestors. Fortunately, my ancestral connections and thus my altar have grown quite a bit since March.
Not only is my altar space occupied by images of my Beloved Dead but it also contains waters (pure water, Florida Water, and an Ancestral Scrying Water), offerings (candy, copal resin, candles, and alcohol), and symbols (cowry shells, rattles, skull images, pennies, beads, charms, dried flowers, veves, etc.) that speak not only to the Ancestral Dead but also to the two Orishas with whom I work, the two Lwa with whom I am building a connection, and a few Saints who have offered me some quite unexpected assistance in the last several months or more. My awareness of my roots has deepened and my altar has become more integral to my spiritual practice. I conduct my rites of offering at the altar as well as divination rites and other informal rituals of reverence and connection. Thus far my Ancestor altar has been a wonderful gateway to the realm of the Ancestral Dead and to making connections with the Orishas, Lwa, and Saints. When I started the altar, I really did not expect my roots to reach so deep. I did not expect to begin profound relationships with the Spirits (i.e., Orisha, Lwa, and Saints) that many of my ancestors honored.
At the moment, I still consider myself to be deeply engaged in the early building phase of my relationships with these very different but connected entities so I try not to light candles and make offerings for the purpose of making requests and having them satisfied. Instead I make offerings in recognition, to give honor/reverance, and out of appreciation. Does this mean that I will never ask for anything? Well, no, I believe in reciprocity – a gift for a gift, but I also believe in having a strong and respectful connection, a meaningful relationship. That is the foundation on which exchange and reciprocity are laid. Out of respectful reverence, I try to acknowledge and show appreciation for the myriad gifts that have already been given. I feel I am still in that phase. I am sure the time will come when I feel called to ask for something but right now, I am enjoying the process of appreciative gift giving. Overall, I am super energized around these budding relationships and I look forward to strengthening connections, and reaching more of my roots.