A recent comment from a reader asked me to reveal what I actually do to venerate my ancestors, both genetic and spiritual. This comment was triggered by an extensive article that I posted last month about ancestor veneration, and how it is an important but often forgotten element in modern paganism. Since I have already pretty much explained the why and wherefore, I guess that I should just write up exactly what I do to venerate my ancestors. (You can find that previous article that I wrote and posted, here.)
What I do to venerate my ancestors is to put together a couple of different shrines. First, I distinguish between my genetic ancestors and my spiritual ancestors. Some of my actual lineal ancestors would have issues with my occultism, witchcraft and magical practices, so I feel that they must be sequestered from that activity. I have therefore selected an area in my temple library for my genetic ancestors, and I have gathered all of the pictures that I have of them, going as far back as I can. I occasionally burn incense and talk to them, and although many of them have been silent so far, I do sense their presence. Since I spend some time in my library reading and doing research, they are a part of that activity, and I know that all of them, more or less, loved books and reading. My genetic ancestors, therefore, share with me a common household activity that they would find agreeable and beneficial to all.
As for my spiritual ancestors, these individuals reside in the temple proper. What I do is to place a picture of them in a nice frame so that they are facing in such a way as to be present for all magical operations. I also burn incense for them and include them in my meditations and prayers. Right now I have a picture of Alex Sanders, but I am also going to include a picture of Mathers as well.
I also make distinctions with those entities that I consider to be personal demi-gods, such as Hermes-Thoth, or actual deities, such as Dionysus and personal aspects of the God and Goddess of the Witches.
All of these individuals have physical markers that are placed on my personal spiritual shrine and are given offerings of incense, flowers, sacraments (wine and host fragments), and temporary food and drink offerings. These beings are very much a part of every working that I do, and I dote on them each time I perform a Mass or Benediction rite, which begins a magical operation. I prefer to work with magically animated statues, and these require a certain amount of upkeep, such as offerings, oblations, prayers and meditations. Additionally, I also traffic with the various spirits that I have summoned and invoked, and I keep a Liber Spiritus where I store the consecrated sigils that I used to invoke them. All of these spirits are a part of my personal religious and magical cult, and I seek to keep them all maintained and fresh within my workings.
So there is nothing overly formal or regimented in regards to how I venerate my ancestors and my spiritual allies. I try to regularly keep something going in the temple to ensure that all of these contacts stay alive within me and within my magical work. As a witch who practices ritual magick, my religious liturgy dovetails with my magical workings - they are one and the same. All of the magical workings that I actively perform also have religious dimensions as well. Keeping a charged and active temple with its various shrines and living presences is a very important task for me, and I would assume that it is an ongoing concern for others who function as I do.
Next time you do a magical or liturgical working, spend a moment focusing on your genetic and spiritual ancestors. Doing this regularly will certainly aid your work, and it won’t in any way detract from it.