Monday, October 21, 2013

Making the Ancestor Altar


This is the time of year that the veil is said to be thin between the worlds of the living and the dead.  Because we believe the dead are more able to visit us at this time, its a nice idea to make an Ancestor Altar - not only for ourselves, that we can remember the Ancestors and thank them for their sacrifices - but so the Ancestors themselves can see that we remember and appreciate them!

An Ancestor Altar can be as simple or elaborate as you wish.
It can have photos of your literal ancestors.
It can also have photos of beloved friends or pets 
who have passed during the past year, or over the years.

It can be nothing more than a few photos on a mantle or shelf, 
with perhaps a momento or two that reminds you of the person you are remembering.



It can be larger, with many photos and decorations.  
It's traditional to put symbols of the ancestor's own religion on the altar 
in respect of their beliefs. 
So if your ancestor was Catholic, 
you might put a rosary or crucifix 
or statue of Mary on the altar.



Flowers and candles are often added. 
Marigolds are traditional Ancestor Altar flowers.

A single candle might be lit, 
or there may be many candles!


You should feel free to add symbols of your own religious beliefs.


A bit of the ancestor's favorite food is often put on the altar.
This is an ancient custom used in many cultures,
and is said to keep the ancestors grounded
so they won't haunt or bother you.
It's also simply done to please them.




Water or wine can also be offered.
It should be refreshed daily.

Sometimes it's appropriate to put a small altar outside on the doorstep
for ancestors that you may not want to invite into your home! 
This keeps the undesirables happy, but outside.

It is not unusual to have photos of pets on the altar, 
or to even have a specific altar just for a beloved pet.

Mexico's Dia de los Muertos deserves a blog all to itself, 
so I won't cover it here.
But the decorations and traditions are rich
and colorful!

Do a little research into your own gene field.
Where were your ancestors from?
How did they celebrate this time of year?
What did their ancestor altars look like?
If you can't find any information,
feel free to invent your own, 
based on your own feelings and beliefs.

If you don't have photos of your ancestors,
you can put words on paper,
photos you find online or in magazines,
or anything that helps you bring to mind
the ancestors.

But do honor your ancestors.
They sacrificed much to bring you into the world.
Take this opportunity to thank them.


Here are some photos of my ancestor altar:



This book has photos of all the ancestors inside.
I bought it at the LDS bookstore!
Blessed Be!

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