Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tangible Witchcraft: Beloved Dead Altar

I thought that I would share things now and again that are very real practices and places that I use in my religious life. Today, I share my beloved dead altar, which is out in our living room where our dead can commune with us. (Our mighty dead altar is in the temple room and is separate.)

As you can see, there is a LOT of stuff on our dead altar. We include not only people but animals that we've loved and lost.

On it, we have photos as well as mementos given to us by our loved one or their family. I also have other objects that remind me of the dead here- figurines and statues, feathers of lost rescue parrots, remembrance cards from funerals, jewelry of theirs, and more.

We also have lights set for them, spirit houses for them to live in, a place to burn offerings of incense, and offering plates and cups. There is always fresh water available, and we often share an especially good meal with them.

I have also made sugar skulls (I tend to do them annually around Samhain.) to represent specific people on the altar.

Additionally, many of the animals that I have lost have been cremated, and this is where their ashes reside.

I anticipate showing my son how to make offerings and talk to the dead when he's old enough. Does anyone else have their kids talk or work with the dead?

Below are some close ups so you can see some detail.


 So do you have a beloved dead altar? Please share it!  I would love to hear how you incorporate it into your regular life.


  1. How very strange. The "stats" part of blogger tells me that this post has more page views than any other blog post this month, with people coming directly to it even when it is not on the homepage.

    Yet... no comments. Anyone have anything to say? LOL!

  2. I have something to say! :D

    In the past, honoring my ancestors (related by blood or otherwise) hasn't been a part of my Pagan practice at all. In retrospect it seems a bit strange, since I've always loved Halloween/Samhain and the vibe around that time of year, and ghost stories have always held my fascination. I've been working to include the ancestors more in ritual, though I don't have any altar space dedicated to them. (Not enough space in my dorm room!)

    I belong to Ár nDraíocht Féin (a Neo-Pagan Druid organization, for folks who don't know), and part of my evolving perspectives on ancestor honoring comes from ADF's concept of the Three Kindreds. Ideally, a member of ADF pays homage to three distinct but equally important groups of spirits. These groups are the deities, nature spirits (nymphs, fairies, animal spirits, the local spirits of our homes and gardens, etc) and our ancestors. Honoring the Kindreds and building proper reciprocal relationships with them is a key part of practice and devotion.

    In my short experience (I've only been a member since this past July), this approach gives me a better sense of my place in context with other beings. Not in the way of "Puny human, know your place!", but in the way of being more aware of what constitutes the world(s) and who else is contributing to the universe. Specifically towards working with my ancestors, I think this practice gives me even more appreciation for the accomplishments of the humans who have come before me. Without them, I might not exist, and/or the world I live in might be drastically changed.

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  4. Blogger Witch Mom said...

    What a coincidence (if you believe in such things, LOL)- I was just looking at the ADF website yesterday and admiring the guilds that you have- I am very attracted to the Seers guild, if I were to join the ADF! (And the brewer's guild sound like fun, too- LOL.)

    I hear you about knowing your rightful place. In my tradition, we are equals to all that there is- but each have a specific role to play. Such a refreshing change after a lifetime of searching religions that think humans are less than and weak and corrupt, somehow...


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