Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and received everything that was on your wish list, if not, there’s always next year. I lit candles in Honor of Jesus birthday and gave some light (candles) to some of the Saints I work with. I also spent some time at my ancestor altar, gave it a good spiritual washing and wished los muertos (the dead) peace. Okay, so now I will tell you how I set up my ancestral altar, so get out your notepads.
The altar should be set up in a permanent location. Remember I told you that the altar will build up some really powerful energy the more you use it? Well, not if it’s taken down all the time, duh.
So choose a location where it won’t be in the way of your household traffic. I suggest that it isn’t placed in the bedroom either since once a strong energy collects around the altar people usually have difficulty falling asleep near it. I know some people do have it in the bedroom but I would rather have a good night’s sleep when I retire for the night.
Never use metal for the altar since most spirits are turned away from it. The best surface for the altar is wood. It can be a small shelf but I find that an old chest of drawers works well since I can store things in it. You’ll be surprised how many things you start collecting for altar use once you get it going. It’s up to you whether to cover the surface with fabric or not. I cover mine with white fabric on which I have embroidered the four corners with sacred seals. White is the best color for an ancestral altar because it represents peace, purity and the dead. Since I burn candles on it I also use an inexpensive clear shower curtain liner, cut to size, to protect the fabric itself from candle wax.
Before anything is placed on the altar it should be spiritually cleansed, this includes the fabric. You can either use Holy Water for the cleansing or make a spiritual liquid. I make my spiritual liquid with a blend of cleansing herbs. If I’m cleansing just the altar itself I make less and if I’m cleansing the altar AND the fabrics I make more.
For more spiritual liquid I bring to a boil 1 gallon of filtered water. Remove from heat and add 1 handful of Ruda (Rue), 1 handful of Romero (Rosemary), and 1 handful of Albahaca (Basil). When I say a “handful” I don’t mean as much as your hand can hold, I am talking about as much as will fit only the center of your palm and not piled up to where it reaches over the thumb. In cooking terms this is probably a little less than ¼ cup of each herb. Allow the liquid to cool until it gets to a temperature comfortable to the touch. Once cool, strain out the herb, you will use the liquid for cleansing. Take about 3or 4 cups of this and use it to cleanse the altar, the rest is poured into the final rinse cycle to cleanse your fabrics. To make less spiritual liquid use about 3 cups filtered water and 1 tablespoon of each herb.
With a disposable rag dip it into your small container of liquid and wipe the entire surfaces of the altar. Make sure to cleanse the top, all the sides, the back, the front, and underneath. If there are deep carvings in the wood you will need to place the liquid in a spray bottle to make sure it gets in there. Once cleansed with the liquid take some Hyssop incense and spiritually smoke (smudge) the surfaces as before making sure the smoke comes in contact with all sides. Sometimes I use “Three Kings Incense” or “Chruch Incense”. I think the Church Incense is also called “Gloria Incense”, in my opinion these three are the best.
It’s true that salt is used as a purifying agent and works very well but you should never under any circumstances use salt water to purity your altars. While cleansing the altar I recite psalm 23 to remove negativity and to insure protection in my space.
Next will be the altar setup.