Offerings for an Ancestor Altar (Beginner & Advanced Friendly!)

by Naima @ Ritual+Vibe
1 Comment(s)
Offerings for an Ancestor Altar (Beginner & Advanced Friendly!)

Creating an ancestor altar that you regularly work with is a powerful ritual that powers spirit work. It is a great way to connect with your ancestors as well as yourself. Strengthening that bond with your ancestral army will help you stay not only grounded, but properly guided.

This post is designed to be a quick, multi-tiered guide on the offerings you can provide on an ancestor shrine or altar. Whether you're a beginner or already have an altar you work with, you'll find inspiration and direction that can help support your spirit work and ancestral work.

Starting Out:

If you’re new to setting up an ancestral shrine, keep it simple when setting up your shrine. I posted steps on setting up a simple ancestor altar in this post, but to get started, all you need is a small table, ideally covered with a white table cloth. You can energetically clean the table, cloth, and area if you'd like with your preferred medium. Keep this table outside of your bedroom or places you sleep.

This will be your ancestor altar or shrine. Here, you can meditate and do spirit work, you can leave offerings, or simply venerate your ancestors here. 

There are a a few of these basic offerings to add on an ancestral altar: 


  • Pictures of close family members and friends who have passed. Typically, I see framed pictures on ancestor shrines, but I have also put obituaries on my altar.
  • Candlelight. Obviously, with candlelight, you'll need to either sit with the light (in a meditative way, if inclined) or be preset while the candle is lit. 
  • Fresh, cool water in clear glass. You'll have to change this water regularly/weekly. 

Do you want to learn more about what things you can do with your ancestor altar? I would love to make a post if you're interested. If so, let me know in the comments!

Intermediate:

For more advanced offerings, there are other offerings that can require more attention or regularly tending. Some of these items may cause you to actively sit with your ancestor altar, or tend to the items on a daily basis to ensure items do not spoil. 

  • Incense/Cigar smoke
  • Flowers
  • Black Coffee
  • Fresh Fruit
  • A part of your meals of the day 

Other Ideas for Ancestor Work: 

If you are ever so inclined, work with and talk to your ancestors about any small special offerings in that can be included. If you want other ideas on special things you can offer your ancestors at your ancestral shrine, you can include more personal items you may have or even prepare a  you may want to include more personal family items to your ancestral shrine: 

  • Special meal/foods. Even if you don’t eat meat, your ancestors might appreciate a small offering of backfat, or turkey necks occasionally (for example). Or another traditional food popular for your ancestors that you may not eat, you could prepare a small amount for your ancestor table specially prepared for them.
  • Ancestral crops/agriculture like cotton and sugarcane are nice additions if your ancestor table calls for it. 
  • Cigarettes, Chewing Tobacco, Cigars, and other Tobacco Products. Find brands that you know passed family members used if you know them. 
  • Jewelry, precious family items 
  • Bible, prayer books, sacred texts
  • Liquor is often given to ancestors, but please be mindful with the history of alcoholism in so many families, it may not be something you want to add on your table. Use your best discernment

No matter if you simply offer cool water to your ancestors, or elaborate meals, regular tending an ancestor table can help strengthen relationship with guides.

Traditionally, what are some ways your culture venerates those who have gone before us? Are there certain motifs or items that represent your family? Meditate with your ancestor table, and if any ideas come to you on offerings that would be relevant to your shrine, write them down and fulfill when possible.

Do you want to learn more about what things you can do with your ancestor altar? I would love to make a post if you're interested. If so, let me know in the comments!

by Naima @ Ritual+Vibe

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Charlotte
Charlotte

If I place treasured Jewelry, can I still wear it? Or do I have to get rid of it?

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