For me personally, some of my ancestors really have a lot of magical knowledge. Personally I have found that techniques such as self- hypnosis, meditation skills, and other forms of quieting the head allow for a better communication stream. This is a lot of what my book, Hands-On Chaos Magic, is about: the basics to intermediate level magic, and what I teach in public (and I do ancestor classes fairly often). Often, when I am sitting down at the ancestor altar, when things are right, I will get results right away, or streams of information; including ideas for practical magical techniques, and more.
Hands-On Chaos Magic will cover the techniques, but not the framework for Vodou service and working within the system. Now personally, I have found that talking to the ancestors is much less about talking, but "vibing". If you are in that quiet center place, it's much easier to communicate. In my experience, the words have always been less important in than that the vibration is right. The most helpful vibe, to me, has been one of gratitude and love.
I will give you a couple examples of getting to that most helpful vibe. How can one get to that centered place more easily where communication is possible? First, realize that each action should be done with intention. What this means, in my humble opinion, is that it's not just putting the food down on the altar; it’s putting the food down with conscious, intentional love, and gratitude for all that came before you. A simple set of techniques helps me with this process. First, I will use various techniques to center and ground. IF I am going to do more a magical operation with the ancestors, a white bath is often a good idea. My ancestors personally like doing magic with me, so this does happen.
While I am serving them, I will breath as deeply as I can, remembering times that I had with some ancestors that really connect to the love of family. I recall memories from childhood, conversations, whatever I can possibly remember. The goal is to let those feelings of love and gratitude for those memories really fill up your body with that good feeling. After feeding them, they will often ask me to sit down and listen, where they will give me good advice. My ancestors are a varied lot, some have great business advice, and some are great magicians. I maintain that vibe of love and gratitude through the conversation and connection (and this always seems to work a lot better). Really, holding a vibe like this is as simple as concentrating on the memories, and bringing all the information up through your imagination. As long as you are really getting into it, and it feels good, your aura will vibrate correctly. If you know songs for the ancestors, and can keep that love and gratitude vibe, it tends to go doubly well. Really, I extensively cover how to create, hold, and maintain a vibe and an auric vibration in 'Hands On Chaos Magic' through multiple chapters of information. Since the purpose is more to get the basic techniques of magical operations in the public eye, I did not specifically give examples relating the techniques to ancestral work, but it's all there.
It is possible, to contact one ancestor at a time but that would be another post. This does use some of the techniques I learned while in Haiti and using the Kardec systems of mediumship (for more information check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Kardec) as well as the Kardecian Africanized practices that make up a Spiritual Mass. Often, if you have an Ancestral staff, merely tapping the staff 3 times, and calling the person's name in love is enough (if you have a connection, and stay in that centered loved based place) to feel their presence.
In a lot of ways, it's easy to misinterpret the communications, so do double check things with divination. I often will combine the Tarot with the Ancestral work to give you a set of techniques to help work with the ancestral currents and fine tune your communicative abilities. When you are starting out and even later, it is very difficult to separate the message from the messenger. I know some mediums who will claim to this, but that is really a misunderstanding on their part (or worse). It still must be filtered through the subconscious mind even for the medium.
With good connections to the ancestors, miracles are possible. That does not mean that you don't have to put the work in. Asking the ancestors for millions of dollars and then sitting on your butt probably will not fly. However, I have seen them, and people who have worked with me to get their ancestral frame working right, get results very quickly, and nothing beats the real sense of peace and love that comes from getting it right with them. I do classes in the mid-west (Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Chicago) on this topic on a semi-regular basis.
Setting Up your Altar
The way I leaned how to do ancestor work in Haiti and the way I teach ancestor work is through a white table method of work.
What you will need:
4 Rocks from around your house ( or 4 quartz crystals)
1 glass cup for water ( preferably clear or white)
1 white shiny cloth covering.
1 white candle
Vegetable oil (Easier to obtain and acceptable, though Van Van oil would be
an even better choice)
Small table, shelf, dresser, cabinet top (Obviously the more you want to
display on your alter as far as pictures and heirlooms will dictate how large of a table you will personally want)
Frankincense and Myrrh (Or other incense that will help raise them up)
Van Van Oil
Bread, rice and beans
Clean off the surface to be used.
Wipe down the top with Florida Water.
Optional, but preferred: Mix Florida Water, Water, and some of your
Urine. Mix this in a bucket and rinse the white tablecloth with it (this does
not smell). Allow the tablecloth to dry in the sun.
Place the white tablecloth over the area to be used.
Get four small stones from around your house. Clean them by scouring
them with salt. Rinse them off well (Salt is not good to use for the spirits of
the dearly departed). Then place one at each corner of your alter.
It is common in Voudou practice to baptize ritual objects. This is a ritual
method of giving them names. You can take a sprig of basil and splash a baptism onto your water glass, giving it a unique name as you do. Sigilized names work well, or even something like “Mama Aqua Brings Spirits”. The name should be unique; by naming it the glass becomes a unique thing. It is now a powerful portal between you and your ancestors. Place this glass with water onto the center of the alter and add a sprinkle of Florida Water, white wine, white rum, or a little anise.
Into a glass candleholder, place some earth or small rocks from around
your home and a few grains of salt (Just a few grains of salt to remove
negativity). Take a white candle, and with pure vegetable oil or Van Van
oil, rub the candle from the middle to the top then from the middle to the
bottom. As you rub the candle direct your energy through your hands and
pray for spiritual awareness. Put the candle firmly into the candle holder
and place it in front of the glass of water.
- Optional: Place pictures of your ancestors or articles from your ancestor’s onto the altar. Place any skull or dead imagery onto the alter as well.
- Light the candle and call out to your ancestors to come and commune with you. If you are familiar with chakra work, you can also open all chakras before you communicate with your ancestors. Other blog posts here go over some ways to do this.
- Give the ancestors some bread. A cup of coffee with sugar and black. Other good offerings include: Rice, rice and beans, sweets, chicken roasted corn, grilled peanuts, fresh coconut. Ask your ancestors; they will happily let you know. Avoid salt in the food as it can take energy from spirits and you are using the food to provide them with a source of energy (this is a point of contention within some houses and sites).
- Take a little time to sit at your altar, quite your mind and listen for messages that they may want to give you. We'll cover some mediumship techniques in the show.