How to Create an Ancestor Altar for Samhain Without Anyone Realizing

If you walk into my office and look right you will see my grandmother’s ashes on one of my cube organizers. You would never guess that though, and I am waiting for the awkward day when someone goes “that’s a pretty box” and proceeds to open it.

what is an ancestor altar
What is an Ancestor altar.png
How to create an ancestor altar

I am not morbid or weird I promise. Lots of people have urns. Okay maybe not young people. But it was always discussed between my grandmother and I that I would also have some of the ashes along with my uncles and my mom.

What was weird was when I received the ashes and then I started walking around with them going, well what the hell do I do with them? Travelling with them to my house was like driving with a newborn.

So when I started to celebrate the lovely holiday of Samhain (which if you haven’t learned about it, then you have got to check out my post here ) I fell in love with the idea of an ancestor altar. And today I want you to be able to set up one for yourself too this season without the judgement of other people looking in on it.

So what is an Ancestor Altar?

Exactly what it sounds like. A little section or area in a room that is dedicated to a family member(s) who recently passed. Sometimes people call it a memorial area can make it elaborate. Especially if it was for a child that recently passed away.

It is filled with different items of the deceased to help feel connected to them. Most people have them just to remember them. Some people (especially those who follow witch, wiccan and pagan paths) use them instead to connect to the spirits, especially when the veil between the spirit world and our world is at it’s thinnest. AKA during Samhain. But maybe you are a little worried that your friends might look at you like you grew an extra 2 heads. Keep reading!

Location Location Location

Find an area in your home that you feel most comfortable. Don’t think that you have to keep it hidden in your bedroom unless you feel like that is the best energy for it. This is a whole you do you moment so run with it.

Mine sits in my office. Sounds odd? Maybe, but all of my spiritual tools are in there, so it’s not sooooo odd. Plus my grandmother was the Queen of Clean, and that is the one place that could be the cleanest out of my entire house. So it’s a win win scenario.

Keep a piece of them close by

If you are anything like me, (or like most people) then you have family photos around the home. So to put a member’s picture in a specific spot may not scream out to passerby’s. So put up your favourite picture them, and a memento of them.

It was the family joke that my grandmother’s spirit animal was the pig. She always won at the pig slots at the casinos. So we bought her pig everything so there are little pig figurines in each of our homes now. That’s what ties us to her.

Some people also put a pack of smokes or a bottle of alcohol on their altar as well. It’s all about what you have to make that connection with the spirit.

If you someone’s ashes then put them on the altar as well. It doesn’t have to be in a big in your face urn. Just in a beautiful box will be good too.

Some spiritual items to help make that connection stronger.

A letter- Do you have a few unsaid things you need to get off your chest? Maybe now is the time to bring all the things you wish you had said to the surface. Or maybe you want to just let them know what’s been going on in your life recently. There is nothing wrong with that either. Put anything and everything down on paper. Don’t hold back.

Carnelian- Legend has it, that Carnelian was meant to help the dying transition to the afterlife. If you think that you have a family member has not crossed the line absolutely bring out a piece of carnelian to help them make the transition quickly and safely. It will also help you to look at death without fear. So keep a piece of it near by during this season.

Coins- If you are a fan of Greek mythology, then you might want to keep some coins on your altar. According to mythology, coins were buried with the dead as payment to Charon (the ferryman of Hades) who would bring the souls over from world of the living to world of the dead.

So if you would like to keep a little bit of a family member near by, this is a great way to do it. Let me know if you decide to set one up for Samhain this year!

Peace, love and creativity

Amanda