I thought I wrote how I did an ancestor elevation back in the fall when I did one. I guess not? Oh well. Here’s what I did.First off, I should probably explain what an ancestor elevation is:
If you want to do something for relatives who were troubled when they passed away, then you can do an ancestor elevation. An elevation is a ritual undertaken over a series of days where offerings are made for your ancestor and prayers are said in the hope of elevating the spiritual condition of the deceased. This is a very common form of remembrance in Afro-Caribbean religious traditions (Santeria, Espiritismo, Vodoun etc.), with each faith having its own set of practices to assist the dead in achieving a state of peace. The idea here is that ancestors who are elevated and enlightened are far more likely to be helpful. Those who do this, even for a family member who was abusive, get bonus points for filial piety. On the flip side, it is considered very unlucky to have very tormented, unenlightened dead hanging around. So elevations are usually done as a matter of course. This idea is fairly universal, as there are few faiths that do not include prayers for the souls of the dead. Each faith approaches the issue in a slightly different way, and there are different ways to honor and elevate the dead. While each tradition does this in its own way, I’d like to focus on the commonalities present in several types of elevations.
Weaving Memory: A Guide to Honoring the Ancestors
by Laura Patsouris
Well, despite what Patsouris writes, I couldn’t find any pre-existing Gaelic prayers dedicated to ancestors. So I took several ideas from the rest of the chapter and compiled together the ritual below:
Purpose: to build a connection with a particular ancestor while also improving their spirit/soul
– Altar cloth
– 9 Tealight candles
– Offering plate and/or cup
– Something that represents the ancestor (picture, obituary, etc)
– 8 stacks of something (books, bricks, etc)
This is a nine day ritual. It is intended to be a Gaelic Polytheist inspired “ancestor elevation” for an ancestor that you haven’t prayed to before. It can be repurposed for other ancestor work, however. I did this so that the ninth day ended on the ancestor’s birthday. You can time it so that it starts on their birthday, starts on their death date, ends on their death date, etc. The timing isn’t so important as the length.
Set up your altar space so that the nine candles make a semicircle in front of the item that represents your ancestor.
Light the first candle and say a prayer for your ancestor. If the ancestor was very religious, petition their gods. A suggested prayer inspired by Gaelic cosmology is the following:
Dearest Ancestor, I pray for your peace.
For though you have died,
You are not dead.
I pray to the Gods that you are strong,
I pray to the Spirits that you are well,
I pray to the Ancestors that you are happy.
May the winds sing your memory,
May the earth know your story,
and may the sea carry your spirit.
While at the altar, meditate on your ancestor and what they mean to you. Recall any favorite memories. Share stories about yourself. Listen to see if they have anything to say to you. Spend time with them.
Once the candle has burned out, dispose of the offerings appropriately. I suggest, if at all possible, to offer water and pour it out outside by a tree or bush. If giving a piece of food, leave it beside a tree or bush. Leave the tealight candle at the altar, though.
Repeat this for seven more nights, adding the next candle each night. However, before you light the night’s candle, add something under the item representing your ancestor. This represents actually “elevating” them. By the ninth night, they should be 8 stacks high.
On the ninth night, repeat as normal but before disposing of the offerings, do divination to see if the elevation was successful. A useful way to phrase this would be, “What was the result of my ancestor ritual?” After you got your answer, regardless of the answer, ask your ancestor what they want you to do next. You can use divination or if you’re able to just sense them after nine days of meditating on them, that’s fine too.
I should add that if this was done for an ancestor you just want gone from you…you don’t need to ask what they want next, but instead tell them to leave your side and enjoy the afterlife away from you.