In witchcraft, one can find many rituals, tools, and practices that connect practitioners with the past and their ancestors. These rituals include ancestor altars, dumb suppers, and personal connections. One tool that is often found in these practices is the candle. A candle on your ancestor altar can be a simple tool that connects the physical and spiritual worlds. This allows witches and other practitioners to honor their ancestors, seek guidance, and tap into the wisdom of the past. Keep reading to learn more about including an ancestor candle in your practice!
What is Ancestor Worship?
Much like worshipping or honoring a deity, ancestor worship is the act of honoring your ancestors. These ancestors may be blood relatives, common ancestors, or ancestors in spirit. This practice, also called ancestor veneration, spans cultures and civilizations throughout history. It is a common way of acknowledging our past and honoring the legacy of those who came before us. The foundation on which we build our lives is usually aided by the legacy of our ancestors. As witches, taking time to honor our ancestors can be a vital and fulfilling way to work with death, the past, and the spirits of our beloved dead.
It is important to remember that your ancestors are not only blood relatives that have passed beyond the veil. Ancestors can be friends, common ancestors such as those with similar skills, and those you feel connected to based on practice. It’s okay if your blood-related ancestors are not worthy of your attention. Sometimes, we have negative people in our history who, for one reason or another, can bring up trauma, guilt, or shame. It’s okay to make your ancestor altar as exclusive as you would like. Only invite those you would like to spend time with.
Crafting the Connection
A very simple way to begin working with your ancestors is through the use of candles and an ancestor altar. Candles, in all their various colors, shapes, and sizes, are the perfect tool for the witch wanting an ancestral connection. The variability of the candles means that you can tailor each candle to the specific situation and ancestor! Here are a few ideas to get you started in choosing your ancestor candle.
Choosing a Candle
When a witch chooses a candle for their ancestor altar, they often go for black or white. In this case, black is linked to death or protection, while white is linked to purity and positivity. Black and white are not your only options, though!
If you are choosing a candle for a specific ancestor, consider choosing a color you associate with them. For example, maybe their favorite color was purple. Instead of a black or white candle, a purple candle would be a good choice! If your ancestors loved to garden when they were alive, perhaps choosing a floral-scented candle is a good option.
You may also decide to choose the color of the candle based on a need you have. If you are reaching out to your ancestors for guidance, choosing a colored candle that corresponds with your question may be helpful. For example, if you are asking your ancestors for luck in a new job you have applied for, you may find it helpful to light a green candle with your ancestors.
Let your creativity and intuition guide you when choosing your candle. You may also choose to use divination to help guide your choice!
You can also inscribe your candle for specific people, purposes, or skills connected to your ancestors. The most simple way to do this is by inscribing your ancestor candle with a name. Feel free to choose whichever inscription you would like. Names, symbols, and sigils are all wonderful inscriptions to include on your ancestor candle. The inscription helps connect you to the candle, building the bridge between the past and present.
For example, if you are trying to connect with a relative beyond the veil, you may want to inscribe the candle with their name and birthday. You can do this with their full name, or you can create a sigil to represent their name if that is easier.
Some candles come in glass jars. These candles are great for decorating the outside! Grab an image of your ancestor, or an association of them, and decorate the outside of the jar. This can be anything from photos of loved ones to stickers of yarn, cats, and flowers. How you choose to decorate and connect is up to you. The choices here are only limited by your creativity, imagination, and intuition!
Oils & Herbs
Another way to connect with ancestors through your candle is with the use of oils and herbs. Now is a great time to focus on our ancestors, what they valued in life, and how they would like to be remembered. The same is true of herbs, flowers, and plants! Dedicate a candle to an ancestor and dress it with a corresponding oil and herb.
The Ritual of Connection
Now that you have your candle, it is time to build the connection. This can be as simple or elaborate as you would like. Again, how you proceed with your ancestor worship will depend on your personal practice preferences. You can use this framework for a very basic ancestor worship ritual.
First, choose your candle. Use the above information as a guide to help you choose the color, scent, and other correspondences. Then, choose whether you will inscribe your candle or dress it in some other way. When you have finished your candle, it is time to place it on your ancestor altar. If you don’t have one yet, that’s okay. You can establish one fairly easily, or you can simply place the ancestor candle on any other surface you plan to work on.
The next steps of connection will depend on your purpose. If you are simply honoring your ancestors, then you will light your candle, meditate, and say a prayer or two. This is a good time to offer up your thoughts, memories, and anything else you would like to share with them. A candle meant to honor your ancestors can be placed anywhere in your home, but typically an ancestor altar is used.
If you are asking for guidance, you may want to cast a circle or create a sacred space in your preferred fashion. However, this is not always necessary. Light the ancestor candle and meditate on your purpose. If you have a divinatory tool such as tarot or a pendulum, now would be a good time to use them. When you ask your ancestors for guidance, it is common practice to leave an offering of thanks for their time and energy. What you offer them will vary based on who they are, but usually, fresh water works in a pinch.
A Timeless Connection
In a fast-paced world where ancestral ties can often be overlooked, ancestor candles serve as a powerful reminder of our roots. We can use them to reconnect with the stories, experiences, and wisdom of our ancestors. By paying homage to our ancestors, we can enrich our spiritual practices and infuse our lives with a deeper sense of purpose.
Whether you are an experienced witch or new to the craft, using an ancestor candle can be just the bridge you need for transformation and understanding. There are many ways to work with an ancestor candle, as well. From divination, prayers, and petitions, the ancestor candle is just one of many ways to connect with those who have crossed the veil.
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