Monday, December 29, 2008

Setting Up The Ancestor Altar

Hey guys and girls, it’s been a few days since my last entry on the ancestor altar so today I would like to expand on the subject. I truly believe that los muertos (the dead) like the idea of spreading the knowledge of honoring them because since my first entry on the subject the room has been filled with a gentle aroma of freshly cut flowers. This is a gift in itself since being we are in December fresh cut flowers are unheard of.

Okay espiritistas (spiritualists) get out your notepads cuz today I’m going to share with you some secrets of the curandera. ......ssshhhhh..... really important stuff here so pay attention.

Once you have spiritually cleansed the surface that will serve as the altar you are ready to set it up. This is the fun part. Start collecting photos of your ancestors and place them in nice frames. Do not use a photo that has a living person in it. Gather up anything that belonged to them such as if you have a pendant that your loved one liked to wear or any small object that belonged to them. Larger objects can be set on the floor near the altar or hung on the wall over the altar. Notice I use the word “gather”..... not “place”. You don’t want to place these items on the altar until they too are spiritually cleansed. The initial setup should be as pure as possible.

You can use just about any object on the altar that you want but there are a few rules to follow.... no dark colors, no salt, no metal, nothing connected to a living person, and nothing that symbolizes negativity. One exception when it comes to metal objects..... it is absolutely okay to have things made of metal if the metal object is something that belonged to them or if it is Holy in nature such as Saint medals.

My altar consists of a bible, a book of prayers, a clear crystal vase with fresh cut flowers (when they are available), a crucifix, glasses of fresh water, a white candle, incense holder, pictures, items they owned or things that I know had meaning for them, holy medals, crystal, abalone shell, Holy water, and other small trinkets. Since I work closely with some of the folk saints I also have their pictures there since I consider them to be part of the family.

I visit the altar daily and read prayers for them. I ask my ancestors to select a prayer they would like to hear, I randomly open the book and read. They will lead you to the page they want to hear or one that they feel you need.

Any item placed on the altar should be spiritually cleansed beforehand. This can be done through the means of spiritual fumigation (smudging) with the incense as I have explained in the previous entry “Preparing The Ancestral Altar”. The items can be arranged anywhere on the altar with the exception of the glasses of water.

Your altar should be set up with at least three glasses of fresh water. Water is an important substance in Curanderismo. Water is of major importance to all living things. 60 percent of our body is water, 70 percent of our brain is water, 90 percent of our lungs are water, 83 percent of our blood is water. Without it all living things would die. Water is cleaning, refreshing and purifying, it’s also a substance that links us to other realms. It’s a substance that makes communication easier, its presence absorbs negativity and it’s a vehicle to receive and transport spiritual energy.

The glasses of water should be placed in the center of the altar to form a triangle or pyramid. The reason for this particular setting of the glasses is the power of the shape itself. Some shapes have a tremendous amount of power, the triangle or pyramid is one such phenomena. The glasses should be set up something like this.... I can't get the numbers to look like a triangle but the 1 glass should be in front of and centered between the 2 and 3, like a

2 3

The number 2 glass should be dedicated to your maternal ancestors, number 3 glass is dedicated to your paternal ancestors, the number 1 glass is dedicated to God or the one you call God. This dedication is for those who only want to honor their ancestors. If you actually do spiritual work and want to include Saints or deities you work with (this is my setup) the dedication is different and should be dedicated like this.... the 2 glass to your maternal and paternal ancestors, the 3 glass to your guides, Saints, Angels and God (everyone holy) and the 1 glass to the spirit or group of spirits you want to work with. The number 3 glass is the one you will drink from (more on this later).

Glasses number 2 and 3 are changed only once a week on the day you have chosen to clean your altar. When you change the water from these two glasses, don’t pour them down the drain, instead, pour them in the street OFF your property. If you can’t pour them away from your property then pour them into the toilet and flush it away. These two glasses will absorb negative energies and evil spirits; that is why you empty the glasses off your property or in the toilet. You don’t want that caca to hang around.

Glass number 1, a very important glass for me. Glass number 1 you dedicate to whichever spirit or group of spirits you want to work with. For me I dedicate this glass to my spiritual doctors and surgeons. One of the folk saints I work with is Dr. Jose Gregorio Hernandez, very powerful, do a search on him. This glass of water is changed every morning. Each time I change the water I ask Dr. Hernandez to charge the water with any spiritual medication I need to stay healthy and to energize it with his wisdom and knowledge so that it can be passed on to those I help. The next morning I drink the water to transfer these energies from him into myself. You take 3 sips of water from this glass everyday; the first sip is “in the name of the father”, the second sip is “and of the son” and the third sip is “and of the Holy Ghost”.....say that as you sip the water. Then pour the rest of the water outside on your doorstep to attract blessings into your home. Got that?

Sometimes I will also place a gallon jug of water on the altar and ask him to fill it with spiritual medication for healing so that those that are sick can drink a glass of it. I then keep this in the refrigerator for when its needed. Wow, this works really well.

The glass dedicated to your maternal and paternal ancestors is on the left, the one dedicated to Angels, guides and God should be to the right and the one dedicated to the group of spirits you work with should be in the front. Everything else you place on the altar can be placed anywhere you like.

You will also need a cross or crucifix. The cross is placed on top of the number 3 glass and always remains there. After you have replaced the water from this glass lay the cross on top again.

You will also need holy water, I use this for many things but on the ancestor altar I use it to pour libation (a liquid offering for religious ceremony), Yes, Christians pour libation. I use a small soapstone cup to hold the libation poured. For me, pouring libation is a way to ask for my ancestors to be forgiven of any sins they passed with, to cleanse and purify them and to allow them spiritual progress and peace. So I bet your wondering “when do I pour libation?” well that is done during the Ancestral Healing Prayer which I will post in another entry. The prayer will instruct you when to pour.

Okay, my next entry will be some prayers, changing the altar water, signs in the water, and caring for the altar. I hope you all are enjoying this subject. Let me know, if not I can change it up a bit. Your input is always welcome. Until next time espiritistas (spiritualists). Let me now if you have any questions.
Many Blessings
Luz y Progreso (light and progress)

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