Creating an Ancestor Altar

Creating an Ancestor Altar is one of the best ways to do your communicating and healing with your Ancestors. 


From my own work with my Ancestors, and helping many others heal their Ancestor patterns, I have seen over and over again that our Ancestors need three dominant things from us when we are working with our healing with them - 

1. To be acknowledged;

2. To be understood;

3. To be forgiven

Once this has been done, all other aspects of the healing can flow. 

One of the most important parts of healing ancestral patterns is to acknowledge the Ancestors. It is as though they have been trying very hard for a very long time to reach out to us, but have not been heard! The mere acknowledgement of them, and any attempts to communicate with them are, in itself, bring huge changes to people's experiences of themselves and in their lives. 


The western world is largely orientated to the future and focused on achievement, so we often steer away from the silent moments of contemplation as most of us live in some kind of inner or outer chaos (for some both!) We are always rushing from one task to the next or one thought to the next in our monkey minds. To strengthen our Souls and our spiritual lives, we must make time for a sacred break.

When we are working on healing ancestral (family) patterns (karma), one of the most effective yet powerful ways to communicate, honour and heal with your Ancestors in with an Ancestral Altar.

Your Ancestral Altar is a sacred space of prayer, ritual, meditation, offerings, visualisation and connection with your Ancestors. It is where you continue your relationship with those in your lineage who have come before you.

Your altar provides a powerful visible representation of your spiritual connection to you Ancestors – those you knew and did not know.

It is a gateway between the seen and the unseen realms.

Creating an Ancestor Altar

There is no limit to where and how you can set up an altar. It is personal for each person and can often depend on your own cultural, religious or spiritual background. However, for most people, this will be a new concept and you may feel unsure about what you are doing, or worry about “getting it right”.

The first thing I will share with you is that you cannot get this wrong. Setting up your altar can be anywhere that you feel will be an honourable place to give your ancestors. It could be in any room you deem suitable in your home or it could be in a special place in your garden.

You could dedicate a whole room, or a tiny space in that room. You could devote a whole piece of furniture to act as your Ancestral Altar (such as a book case, coffee table, buffet etc) or just one shelf or space on that piece of furniture. There is no limit to how big or small your Ancestor Altar is – you may have simply one candle or you could have many candles, ornaments, crystals, feathers any other pieces from mother nature to act as your Ancestor Altar.

Choose a space where you feel comfortable and will be able to spend some quite time alone.

There is one thing that you do need to keep in mind though. Your Ancestor Altar is for your Ancestors only. Some people may already have an altar where they meditate with their Guides, Angels and other beings the connect with on their Spiritual Team. However, your Ancestor Altar should be dedicated to your Ancestors only.

So you see, it is perfectly ok, if you have a number of altars around the place!

Once you have chosen your space, begin to create your ancestral altar.


You will need –

Some sage, sweetgrass or some consecrated water (such as religious water or water that has been programmed with an intention to clear such as space clearing sprays)

Some sort of cloth for your Altar


1. Clearing The Space

Once you have chosen your space, quietly affirm to yourself that this is the space your Soul has chosen to connect with your Ancestors. This is setting the intention for your space immediately.

With your smudging herbs or clearing water

Either spray the water around the space or light your smudge stick so it is smoking really well and move it all around the space. This clears the energy of the space and prepares it to be the space for your sacred Ancestor Altar.

As you do so you can say these words out loud (or words that you write or channel or would prefer) –

I dedicate this space to those
whose blood runs through me.
My fathers and mothers,
my Ancestral teachers, guides and guardians,
and all those whose spirits
helped to shape me.

Now you have cleared the space you need to set an intention.


2. Set an intention

It is important before any communication with Spirit or your Ancestors that you set an intention. Do you want to speak to someone specific; do you want to speak to someone that is concerned with a certain pattern etc. Be clear about what and who it is you need to speak to and what you need to communicate about. Add an altar cloth of some sort to help welcome the ancestors. In some Eastern religions, a red cloth is always used. In some Celtic-based paths, it is believed that a fringe on the altar cloth helps tie your spirit to those of your ancestors.


3. Placing items on your Altar

Use your intuition, be in your heart and your Soul and not in your mind.

It is not necessary for you to be in your mind and get things “right” or “perfect” for this process. Things don’t work like that in the Spirit world. In the Spirit world everything is accepted just as it is – this is the perfection.

So give your mind the day off, and allow yourself to dance in the freedom to create something that feels fun, yet powerful and honourable to you and your lineage.

Choose one piece or many pieces to set up on your altar. You may wish to create a mandala or place objects to create a shape such as a circle, square, a heart or whatever comes to you. Or you may just place things randomly - wherever you are guided to on your altar. 

The only important thing you need to remember is to place each piece on with an intention. So as you place a crystal or a feather or a rock on your altar, state out loud or to yourself that this is why you are placing this piece on the ancestral altar, or this is what or who it represents.

It may remind you of your ancestors or it may be something that helps bring connection to your ancestors, or it may be something that brings healing to you and your ancestors, or you feels helps your connection with the Ancestors.


Here are some examples –

You have a feather or find a feather. You feel that this needs to be on your Ancestor Altar because you feel in your heart that this is a sign from your Ancestors that they are with you. As you were thinking about them or your family on the beach the other day you found this feather right in front of you. You place the feather on the altar to thank them for showing you that they are with you, and the feather represents that your Ancestors are there, and will continue to send you signs that they are with you.

You have a beautiful amethyst crystal. It has always reminded you of Spirit and you believe that it can enhance your awareness to connect with Spirit. You are drawn to place the crystal on your altar and you do so with the intention that this crystal will help both you and your Ancestors make the spiritual connection you need to communicate and heal together.

You are out in your garden and you are thinking about your life. You are thinking about how unstable or uncertain that you feel and you wish for more stability in your life. You may even begin to think about your family and wish that you had more support from them. Then you come across a stone – no out of the ordinary stone – but something about it just sticks out or calls out to you. You feel drawn to pick up the stone and place it on your altar with the intention to feel your family and your ancestors spirits stronger behind you helping you to feel more fully supported and stronger in life to do what you need to do.

Again, you can have a number of stones, crystals and feathers that mean the same or similar thing to you.

You have an ornament that you have had since you were a child from your Nana, or an ornament that reminds you of your inner child, that you place on your altar with the intention of reminding you of your place in your lineage – that you are the little one and they are the big ones, as they come before you. This can allow you to bring in your playful energy where you need it more in your life.

You may have photo’s of family, heirlooms, letters, or other treasures that you feel are fitting to remind you of your ancestors. As you place them on your altar you can simply state “this is to remind me of you and where I come from”.

If you feel connected or drawn to an Ancestor that you never knew, but still feel a connection, you could place anything on your altar to represent that particular Ancestor. You could simply state “this piece I place here to represent our work together, whatever that shall be”. Or “this piece I place here to represent the connection we have”.



Now that you have created this beautiful space to connect with your Ancestors you can begin your journey in bringing them into your life - healing with them;  receiving their blessings, communicating with them, finding your place in your family and therefore the world, healing karmic patterns, honouring your ancestors by offering, and acknowledging them.

I have found a candle is very important to have on your Altar. I often use a simple tea light candle. 


4. Lighting a Candle

The act of lighting the candle is like switching on the front porch light, or opening the front door really, and letting the Ancestors know that you are home and you welcome them to come and work with you – bring healing, guidance and other blessings, and/or lets them know that you are honouring and remembering them. The actual lighting of light in a sense “activates” or commences your intention of the work you are doing with the Ancestors for that day.

You may light a candle each morning to say good morning to the Ancestors and ask for all the healed ancestors who act as your guide and light for your highest good to come forth to be with you for the day.

You may light the candle and begin your meditation, inviting the Ancestors in to communicate their wisdom and teaching with you, or simply to look after your essence whilst you travel within yourself or other realms for other teaching and learning.

You may light the candle with the intention to bring forth the Ancestor that you are entangled with or the Ancestors that needs to work with you for both of your own healing.

You can light a different colour candle, or a special candle when it is some sort of special day – like an Ancestor’s birthday, or Samhein or some other special cultural day in your family. Knowing the cultures’ that your family roots are is important as you can begin to find out the special days in that culture and honour them in those times to celebrate or commemorate with your Ancestors.

If, in your work with me in one of my programs, I have set you a Vision Quest, you can light your candle each day and commence your visioning with your Ancestors to assist you capture that in which you are seeking to experience and achieve.


5. Acknowledge and give thanks

If you want to give thanks to your Ancestors you may light your candle and offer them fruit and flowers. The Ancestors love to partake in the energy of these offerings!

Prayer and meditation are both means of connecting spiritually with your Ancestors. Making this connection reminds you that you are not in this alone and that there is great power and wisdom behind you that can guide you and protect you. To create this healing with your Ancestors you need to encourage that relationship to happen. Working with the relationships is going to require a great connection with them. This is created just as you would work on building any other relationship in your life - with time, vulnerability, openness and consistency. 

You can start with this invocation - 

" I am seeking the wisdom and power of the unbroken ancestors, from those known and unknown who are still close to the earth and our family line. I ask that you support and bless our family heritage".

If you listen and watch carefully, you will receive feeling; thoughts, visions and for days to come, signs that your ancestors are with you to help heal you and the ancestral pattern that sits with you. 


6. Journal what comes to you

Whatever it is, always ensure that you have a special journal that sits at your altar so that you can write down all that comes to you when you sit with your Ancestors in this Sacred Space.

Don’t be afraid to use your altar however you feel guided to. You may wish to change the set up of your altar whenever you feel guided to or swap and exchange the pieces that sit on your altar.

I would love to hear how you are using your Ancestral Altar on my facebook page -