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A Guide to Dead and Ancestral Worship, Altars, Offerings, and Ritual

A Guide to Dead and Ancestral Worship, Altars, Offerings, and Ritual
October 29, 2018 Kaitlin Coppock

A Guide to Dead and Ancestral Worship, Altars, Offerings, and Ritual

This was posted to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter on October 30th, 2018. It was updated and re-circulated October 27th, 2019.

My earliest brushes with the paranormal were all oriented around the dead — seeing them, hearing them, being scared the shit out of by them. I was in my mid 20s by the time I overcame the residual trauma of those childhood experiences and was able to begin working with that class of spirits, including ancestors, and it changed absolutely everything.

“The dead” are, obviously, the spirits of deceased human beings, which are fantastic repositories of knowledge and power, especially those we’re related to. Relations can be by immediate bloodline, which are ancestral, or they can be chosen by personal sympathy, occupation, practice, art, or interest.

Why honor our ancestors?

On a primal level, no one is more invested in our health, success, and wellbeing than family, especially the lineage of those who directly birthed or seeded us. Our mother and father, their parents, their parents, and so on. Great sacrifice goes into having a baby and rearing a child — living, breathing extensions of yourself, and vehicles for legacy, genetic and otherwise. Investment in descendants and family is but one natural manifestation of self-interest and egotism, outside of unconditional love and biological values, and those instincts are carried on in death, sometimes even moreso than in life.

Consider it from the perspective of grandparents, who are famous for doting on their grandchildren — spoiling and loving them unconditionally, regardless of whether the grandkids themselves seem to care or appreciate it! Maybe these same grandparents weren’t even the best parents to their own kids, but as generations and immediate care taking duties become farther removed, the love they have for their offspring becomes distilled and more pronounced, less muddied by the stressors of everyday life or the the chaffing of personalities.

Ancestral grandparents are just as excited to pay attention to the goings on of our lives and dote on us from the other side, and will, just like most living grandparents, have a disproportionately generous reaction to their descendants checking in on them.

Familial Trauma and Unsavory Relations

Let us now take a brief intermission to acknowledge that we live in times of unprecedented familial fracturing, and that elective or forced immigration, even from generations ago, very often results in ancestral disconnection and trauma. This is especially true in the case of cultural conversion and religious oppression, where ancestral customs are lost and our families are no longer in contact with their native lands or burial sites.

America in particular is a melting pot of familial trauma and displacement. Early immigrants were usually making the choice to leave their families and never see them again. And those were the lucky ones — people who had a choice, unlike the many Natives who were exterminated or uprooted, or Africans who were ripped from their homelands and forced into the slave trade.

This is one of the reasons why doing ancestral work is particularly important for Americans and other immigrated families, who are some of the least likely to be engaged in such a practice. Outside of the magical benefits of ancestral veneration, it can be a method of healing intergenerational wounds that live on in our bodies and psyches, which can have all kinds of adverse effects on our health, relationships, and even ability to function.

We must also acknowledge that an aspect of ancestral disconnection stems from relatives being abusive assholes, and old hurts and resentments tied to our lived experiences with them, wounds still being suffered, baneful memories or circumstances still affecting our lives. If circumstances like these apply to you, as someone who relates, I am deeply sorry for your suffering.

It need not keep you from doing ancestral devotions, however. While the family closet may be host to some bad egg skeletons, I promise that you have many generations of ancestors, known or unknown, who love and want to help you.

There are two approaches to handling unsavory relatives in an ancestral practice —

  1. Use carefully worded invocations so as not to include them in your venerations or offerings. My ritual structure below fits this criteria. Just as in real life, you decide who gets to break bread at your table. Do not put icons, ashes, or images of those relatives on your altar.
  2. Do intentional work with the problematic ancestor, to heal that trauma within yourself and within their spirit from beyond the grave. This type of work can be intense and would necessitate its own dedicated piece, so we won’t go further into it here, but know that it is an option, and the work of Dr. Daniel Foor is a great place to start.

What are the benefits of ancestral offerings or working with the dead?
How often should I do it?

A regular offering practice for your ancestors will make life run more smoothly overall. Well fed, well intended dead will do you unsolicited favors, such as — keep bad things from happening, protect your own offspring, the rest of your family, and home from harm, act as wards, communicate important things through dream or omen, increase your luck, give you advice and honest feedback on what you’re doing wrong, and generally look out for your best interests.

The dead are, in some ways, simple creatures, easily appeased and happy with relatively little. They want to be acknowledged and to spend a little bit of time with you, and offerings are very basic. They’re unlike Gods who can require elaborate and time consuming shows of dedication, demanding very particular offerings, or other classes of spirits who are easy to offend and high maintenance to wrangle.

The dead are also under-trafficked, relative to their capacity. There might be tens of thousands of people calling on Jove or Ganesha at any given time, but chances are slim to none that someone else is knocking on great-grandma’s grave to give her fresh flowers and brandy. Big spirits have more energy to get things done, but their attention is divided between tons of propitiants, so competition for bandwidth and priority is a factor.

A regular offering practice for your ancestors will keep them paying attention to you between feedings, because frankly, there isn’t a whole lot else to do over there that interests them as much as you do, and they’ll be looking to you for continued interaction.

What do I mean by regular? That’s personal, but once you establish a pattern try to stick to it or make up for deviations. Once the dead become accustomed to a feeding schedule they can get restless and start throwing tantrums if devotions are missed, which is the opposite of the goal. I would recommend at least once per month on the New Moon, but it can be more regular than that.

Good times to make offerings and do rituals for the deceased —

  • Every New Moon, at night
  • Saturdays during the hour of Saturn
  • Tuesday nights after dark, hour of Saturn
  • Around the time of Halloween/ Samhain/ Dia de los Muertos, or sympathetic calendrical beacons per your cultural and religious background
  • Any holiday spent together and breaking bread with living family (Christmas, etc.)
  • Birthdays or deathdays of significant ancestors
  • Your own birthday; the birthdays of your parents, children, or siblings

Around this time of year (from the Fall Equinox through Halloween and the first week of November) is the perfect time to clean or establish a new dead altar and offering schedule. Contact is assisted by the veil being thin.

Ancestral + Dead Altars

Ancestral or dead altars should either be positioned in the West, as the direction of departing life force/ sunset and the gate to the underworld, or North, for the dead are said to dwell there.

You can choose by whichever is more practical or feels right, but it should be its own little table or space, preferably in an area of the house that is low traffic for personal altars, OR is part of the collective family space, if it is to be used by a whole (living) family.

Most people say that you should separate an ancestor altar from a more generalized dead altar, and that issues can arise by combining them, primarily over offering squabbles. That hasn’t been my personal experience — I keep mine together and give offerings in order by invitation (acting psychopomp first, for way-opening services; blood ancestors second; chosen and well intended dead next; anima sola last).

Feel free to experiment with what feels best. Also, if you’re just starting out and don’t intend to work with dead outside your family group, there is no need to create a second altar or perform the later generalized-dead portions of this ritual.

An example altar could include —

  • Black or white altar cloth
  • At least one candle, or a central candle and smaller candles for particular ancestors you wish to venerate
  • Photos of passed over relatives, especially ones who were dear to you, or that you’re particularly interested in
  • Belongings of deceased relatives, such as jewelry, diaries, letters, religious items (rosaries, bibles), metals of honor or regalia, keys, or keepsakes
  • Ashes of relatives, or graveyard dirt from their burial site
  • An incense burner
  • A place for flowers
  • A place for beverage offerings
  • A place for food offerings

Optionally —

  • A statue or image of an intermediary psychopompic deity, such as Hermanubis or Hekate, to help you better call and communicate with the deceased
  • A notebook and pen for writing letters to your relatives, or for automatic drawings and downloads resulting from any trance or mediumistic work
  • Pennies or coins to pay the toll for travel between the worlds of the living and dead
  • Bones, snake skins, dried flowers, shells, tarot cards, or other items related to the death arcana

Appropriate Offerings

There are certain offerings that nearly all the dead enjoy, which will be listed below. Then there are offerings that are particular to what the deceased enjoyed in life.

If you have certain relatives in mind that you would like to particularly honor or ingratiate yourself to, consider offering something specific to them. The dead, because they were once human, have the same relationship to thoughtful gifts as the rest of us. The more thought, individual consideration, and love that goes into them, the better.

If your grandfather enjoyed a nice manhattan at the end of the day, go to the trouble of mixing him one! If you have a recipe book handed down through your mothers’ side, re-create some of those dishes. If your favorite aunt wore Channel N°5, spray it over the altar or toward her photo. If someone liked a particular brand of cigarette, keep a pack on hand. You get the idea! Even playing someone’s favorite song, or giving them a new gift or asset for use beyond the veil in their favorite color, can be a wonderful offering.

Generalized dead offerings —

  • Fresh water (required)
  • Hot coffee or tea, often sweetened
  • Wine or hard alcohol
  • Cigarettes/ tobacco (someone somewhere upstream smoked, probably many of them)
  • Desserts, sweets, or candy
  • Home cooked food, especially served warm and steaming
  • Fresh fruits, cut and ready to eat
  • Bread, cut and ready to eat
  • Flowers
  • Coins

Spirits are drawn to scent. Hot or steaming offerings, such as incense, are very attractive to the dead. A convenient and apt way to offer food is to set aside a portion of whatever meal was cooked and shared between your living relatives, and offer it to your ancestors before it cools, or re-heat it before offering. This is especially true for family gatherings during special occasions or over the holidays.

Note that you do not have to give every type of offering listed every time you make them. I will typically do a glass of water and one other type of beverage, whether alcohol or coffee, and some form of food, sweet, or flowers. You can cycle and give as and what you feel is appropriate, depending on the occasion and if you’re targeting a specific ancestor.

Ancestral and/ or Dead Offering Ritual

Once you have your altar set up, you’re ready for ritual veneration and making offerings. You may or may not have your own way of doing this and invocation. The script and procedure that follows is just a helpful template that works for me.

Once you get familiar with the process or for more casual workings, there is no need to use an outline, or do something so involved. This is for hardcore, dedicated ancestral and dead work, befitting the season. A lot of people just throw a plate of food and cup of water down and say “have at it”, there’s no wrong way to honor your ancestors, as long as you’re doing it!

The ritual structure I am about to present is very malleable. You can omit certain portions as you see fit, and still progress through the template to contact the ancestors and/ or dead you desire. If you only want to talk to your patrilineal side, just perform the opening, do the paternal invocation and close. If you only want to call a specific deceased person, skip to the Chosen/ Sympathetic Dead call.

Leave out what doesn’t apply, and modify this to suit your needs. Read it all the way through at least one time so you can get a sense for how it works, and then set out to customize it. A downloadable Word file is available at the end of this piece for you to modify and print.

As for offerings, prepare and have them ready beside you but don’t put them on the table until it’s that part of the ritual.

Preparation and Opening

Now is a good time to anoint yourself with any oils or sprays designed to enhance contact with the deceased or increase psychic sensitivity. The incense you burn on your ancestral altar can also be designed for that purpose, or you can use your deceased mom’s favorite.

Light the main candle of your altar and the incense. If you have candles representing individual relatives, wait to light theirs until you call them individually.

Sit for a moment, centering yourself, becoming receptive, and attuning to the altar. You don’t have to use a psychopomp to connect with your ancestors or the dead, but I do find that it helps. If you don’t want to use one, just skip it and lay the offerings out now.

Calling Your Psychopomp

Hermes Chthonius can be used for a general underworld Mercury (here is the orphic hymn), or use an appropriate underworld road-opener you have a pre-existing connection with, such as Baron Samedi or Hekate.

I use Hermanubis and keep a statue of him on my ancestral/ dead altar. My invocation is something along the lines of  —

Hermanubis, Hermanubis, Hermanubis, I call! Come to me, here and now, in this space I occupy, which will serve as a crossroads and meeting place for myself, the living, my ancestors, and dead.

Act as a door and guiding light for those I seek. Make me understood by them, and ensure I understand them in turn. Rend the veil between this world and that of the deceased — the underworld, the realm of Amenti. Fetch whom I call, from wherever they may be, and see to it that they receive my words, gifts, and intent.

Accept these offerings of fire, light, incense, (water, wine, bread, etc.) for your services. Disseminate these offerings to the dead I call and invite to partake of them, and see to it that no uninvited intruder finds their way to this altar.

Praise be unto you, Hermanubis!

Make sure these words are heartfelt. If you have a statue or image representing your psychopomp, bathe it in incense smoke or anoint it with oil. If you have it, spray the Dead-Drawing elixir around the altar.

Place the offerings on the table, also running the plates and glasses through the incense smoke. Make a “partake!” gesture toward them, with your hands and heart.

Calling Your Ancestors

Regardless of the relationship we had with our mother or grandmother (if either are deceased), and our matrilineal line, we owe them the greatest ancestral debt.

They physically carried us and the daughters of our lineage to term and went through the birthing process, acting as womb door, and were likely the primary caretakers of our ancestry. Because of this, I highly recommend calling the mother’s line first.

The Matrilineal Call

Now, you can make things “easy” and just say “I call the spirits of my matrilineal line”, or you can perform a more complex, but more effective call. I recommend doing the full version at least once to see how much more powerful it is before cutting corners.

Invoke the most recently deceased, skipping over anyone who is alive (or who you don’t wish to include), tracing backwards. Use full names if you know them, or just identify them by relation. Go at least 3 generations deep, up to 7. If you have a candle representing any of the names you say, light it as you call them. In my case, because my mother is deceased but my grandmother is alive and is therefore “skipped”, it goes —

I call, here and now, the honored and well-intended dead of my matrilineal line. My mother, (say full name), my great-grandmother (say full name or the last name), my great-great grandmother, her mother, and so on!

Every woman who birthed a woman who birthed a woman who birthed a woman, whose blood runs through my veins!

Come to this altar, and accept my heartfelt thanks for the sacrifices you made for our family. Accept these offerings of (food, drink, scent, and fire), along with my love and gratitude. May they take the form that most please you!

Bow to them in appreciation and make a “partake!” gesture toward the offerings. Spend a moment talking and connecting with them, or take care of any communications or business with your matrilineal side before moving on.

The Patrilineal Call

Say “I call the spirits of my patrilineal line” or perform the same extended call, lighting any dedicated candles as you say their name —

I call, here and now, the honored and well-intended dead of my patrilineal line. My grandfather, (say full name), my great-grandfather (say full name or last name), my great-great-grandfather, his father, and so on!

Every man who sired a man who sired a man who sired a man, whose blood runs through my veins! 

Come to this altar, and accept my heartfelt thanks for the sacrifices you made for our family. Accept these offerings of (food, drink, scent, and fire), along with my love and gratitude. May they take the form that most please you!

Bow to them in appreciation and make a “partake!” gesture toward the offerings. Spend a moment talking and connecting with them, or take care of any communications or business with your patrilineal side before moving on.

The Extended Family Call

I now call the well-intended, honored dead of my extended family, my deceased aunts, uncles, cousins, and relatives, whose blood runs through my veins! 

Come to this altar, and accept my heartfelt thanks for the sacrifices you made for our family. Accept these offerings of (food, drink, scent, and fire), along with my love and gratitude. May they take the form that most please you!

Two Roads Diverge

If all you are doing is bloodline ancestral veneration, you can skip the next steps and move to the closing portion.

The Chosen Dead Call

Remember earlier how I mentioned you can work with specific dead, or classes of dead by profession, art, interest, etc? This is the portion where you can call them to the table.

I now call (name; name; — any deceased, non-relative you wish), and the well-intended, sympathetic and the honored dead of (astrology, painters, architects, demonologists, what have you)! Those who spent your life honing your craft, who have much to teach. 

Come to this altar, and accept my heartfelt thanks for the sacrifices you made for your (profession, art, passion, etc.). Accept these offerings as a token of my appreciation for your works and knowledge. May they take the form that most please you!

The Anima Sola Call (Dead Charity)

The Anima Sola are the “lonely souls”; ones who are in purgatory and haven’t found their way to the next stage. I also put ghosts and restless dead in a broader form of this category, outside the strictly Catholic construct.

This portion is essentially charity for such souls, wherein they are fed and our psychopomp is asked to assist them in finding their way, the offerings we’ve already given paying the toll, or you may deposit at least two pennies on the altar. Performing this type of charity can bring unexpected boons, and it can also be done in graveyards — but that’s for another article!

I now invite the well-intended Anima Sola. Any unfortunate, deceased souls who have not found their way to their next stage or resting place, so long as they wish me well, are welcome to partake of the offerings my family and honored dead will share. 

Come to this altar, warm yourself upon this candle. Let this fire invigorate your spirit, and have it light your way. Quench your thirst with this water, and nourish yourself with this bread. Be comforted by our human connection, and then be delivered by Hermanubis to your next destination. Be well, and be at peace!

Closing Portion

Spend as much time in communion with the dead you have called as you wish. The dead appreciate sacrifices of your time and devoted attention as much as anything else. You can talk to them — tell them about your days, your ambitions, your worries. Listen to music, read, or make art and let them share space with you. You can also try some automatic drawing or scrying, pivoting into more necromantic territory.

When you are ready to close the ceremony, something like this can be said —

Thank you to all of my ancestors and the dead who have come to commune with me this night. I pray that you enjoyed your offerings and had your fill! Continue to aid and protect me in my life and works, and know that I am grateful.

You are given license to depart. Return to the resting places you belong, do not linger unduly, and come swiftly again next you are called. My love and gratitude are with you, always!

Hermanubis, see to it that all of the souls who were called here today are delivered to where they ought to be, and help the lost souls find their way. This Rite is now closed. 

Clap your hands or ring a bell/ gong. Blow out the candle. You may wish to spray the area with Asclepius Water, Water of Golden Sol, or do some other form of banishment if the license to depart was insufficient, depending on how much energy you put into the calls and procedure.

Remove offerings before they rot. It is best to dispose of them in nature, at crossroads or burial grounds, or the edge of the woods.

Post-Op Care

When engaged in such heavy death adjacent ritual, it can be a good idea to change clothes and even shower or bathe afterward. The dead have a heavy and draining energy if left to linger, so it can be good to re-orient to a more vital key. Smoke and waters from the Sol in Leo and Asclepius series can be used to clear one’s field and physical space, and applying the sprays to the body or anointing the heart center with oils may also prove helpful.

Blessings be upon you, your ancestors, and our honored dead! Happy venerating!

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For additional information and magical tools for healing and magical
engagement with the Deceased, check out The Ancestral Series

For Working with the Dead + Ancestors

  • $27.00$120.00

    The Ancestors

    , , , ,
    Hermanubis was called to open the way and empower the entire Ancestral Series during a prime astrological election for contacting the deceased. Herbs and resins with necromantic and familial properties such as bloodroot, hops, mugwort, star anise, parsley, myrrh, and proprietary others, were combined, prayed over, and suffumigated using Hermanubis incense for the purpose of facilitating general ancestral contact. This blend was infused in organic sunflower oil, with a portion reserved to create the incense and powder. The rest was used as the “mother" herbal blend for specialty categories within The Ancestral Series — Comfort, Empowerment, and Channel. This sub-set, simply “The Ancestors”, acts as a primer for Ancestral work and devotions. It builds a bridge between you and your Dead, calling them to the here-and-now, wherever and whenever that happens to be. Use as summons before making offerings, or you can spike them with your own magic to facilitate personal ancestral goals. To best establish close contact, use these or Hermanubis materia to issue the invitation/ bring all your Dead to the yard (so to speak!). Give offerings or follow up with items from specialized sub-sets to support your desired aims and outcomes, to help you and your ancestors resolve unfinished business, or to work toward specific magical objectives with the class of spirits we call the Dead. Your Dead, specifically. Pure and uncut herbs, resins, essential oils, metal leaf, and gemstones. No fillers or artificial ingredients whatsoever. Half ounce glass vials of The Ancestors Oil for $66, Incense or Powder for $27
  • $41.00

    Ancestor Altar

    , , ,
    Ancestor of Art, Elizabeth Barrial of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and Twilight Alchemy Lab, ritually crafted one of three limited edition perfume oils during The Ancestral Series election. Of it, she shares —

    This is a cleansing blend used to purify, anoint, and consecrate tools and spaces used in ancestor veneration. It is a highly purifying blend; a few drops can be added to bathwater, and it can be used as an anointing on oil the body to cleanse and reset prior to communing with your fam.

    In my personal ancestral practice, I utilize this blend to clean the altar space and ritual tools, before anointing candles for my ancestors using Phytognosis' or Kaitlin's The Ancestors oils, and I use Hermanubis incense, oils, and elixir to open the way.

    Organic steam-distilled lemongrass essential oil (Cymbopogan citratus), South African hydro distilled organic palmarosa essential oil (Cymbopogon martini), wild crafted citronella java essential oil (Cymbopogon nardus), muhuhu essential oil (Brachylaena hutchinsi), wild crafted organic vetiver essential oil (Vetiveria zizanioides), Moroccan rue essential oil (Ruta Graveolens), Sicilian lemon essential oil (Citrus limon), blue malee eucalyptus essential oil (Eucalyptus polybractea), frankincense essential oil (Boswellia carteri and Boswellia serrata), single-origin olive oil, and lemongrass and citronella harvested from the TAL garden.

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    Grief + Ancestral Healing Bath Salts

    , , ,
    The Ancestors mother-blend, combined with Dead Sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, herbs, flowers, and essential oils to comfort and assist in grief processing, suffumigated with Hermanubis incense. Funereal white lily, baby’s breath, chamomile, blessed thistle, lavender, genuine silver leaf, rose quartz, saltwater pearl, white and yellow roses offered the night of the operation, blue lotus, talismanic materia under the auspices of the Divine Physician Asclepius, proprietary others. Immerse yourself in the mourning process to purify energies and emotions surrounding the death of a loved one, or throughout the course of ancestral healing. Intended to transcend the experience of the physical bather for the purpose of reaching and benefiting the aggrieved beyond the veil. Purgative and transmuting, but also gently facilitates healing, and perhaps a good cry. Gentle, but extremely effective. Enough for 2-3 deep baths, or many more via the principle of contagion. Recommended as a primer for those with complicated family histories who are working their way toward ancestral work, or before ancestral operations, especially on the New Moon. Arrives in an 8 oz glass jar for $36 Note that these salts have a high magnesium and trace mineral content.
  • $27.00$120.00

    Ancestral Comfort

    , , , ,
    The Ancestors mother-blend, combined with calming herbs such as angelica, chamomile, arnica, and proprietary others, along with intent to soothe familial inflammations and provide a calm, easy intimacy. Rose quartz and saltwater pearl, genuine silver and copper leaf, white roses offered the night of the operation, baby’s breath. Organic cold pressed almond oil. After beta testing the Ancestral Comfort incense for the first time, Austin asked what the results were like. “Like Smoking bees”, I said, which FOR SOME UNKNOWN REASON received a confused response. “You know how bee keepers, when they need to go into the hive, they smoke the bees first to calm them down? It’s basically like that, except the bees are dead people...” Use to smooth family dynamics and help everyone get along, mellow uppity ancestors, and ingratiate them to you. The safest and “best” sub-set of The Ancestral series for those looking to tread lightly into ancestral work or with a complicated family history, along with the Bath Salts. Apply to yourself or loved ones to soften relations and resolve bad feelings amongst family, living or dead. Please note, however, that this blend seems to make the dead drowsy, sedated, or even pleasantly high. Great for getting them to leave you alone if they’ve been restless or overactive, not great for if you want to chat them up or send them on a mission. I recommend using this blend after Hermanubis or The Ancestors; or in isolation; or to relieve them (and you!) after Channeling. Empowerment and Comfort seem to cancel one another out, so avoid combining those in the same session, or while your ancestors are engaged in big magical efforts on your behalf, requiring vigilance. Pure and uncut herbs, resins, essential oils, metal leaf, and gemstones. No fillers or artificial ingredients whatsoever. Half ounce glass vial of Ancestral Comfort Oil for $66, Incense or Powder for $27
  • $33.00

    Ancestral Honey

    , ,
    Herbs from The Ancestors mother-blend, suffumigated and combined with passionflower, damiana, and other herbs for promoting affection and attraction, dried yellow roses offered the night of the operation, baby’s breath, talismanic materia from previous Venus series, genuine copper leaf, rose quartz and saltwater pearl, organic Mt. Shasta honey. Submerge names, tokens, grave dirt, or ashes of any deceased you want to benefit from in the afterlife. Sweeten relations between those living and dead, yourself or other members of the family. Useful for inheritance disputes, before or after crossing over. Note that sweetening troublesome relatives may promote unhelpful meddling or cause them to become clingy. Recommended for seasoned practitioners or the esoterically adventurous. Arrives in a 2 oz glass jar for $33
  • $41.00

    Hekate Chthonia

    , , ,
    Ancestor of Art, Elizabeth Barrial of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and Twilight Alchemy Lab, ritually crafted one of three limited edition perfume oils during The Ancestral Series election. Of it, she shares —

    Funereal Mother, celebrating among the souls of those who have passed, embracing the dark ghosts who drift through your shadows.

    An oil reflecting one of the underworld aspects of Golden Crowned Hekate, sepulchral mother who reigns beneath the earth.

    This oil was consecrated under the auspices of Hekate Chthonia on our permanent Hekate altar.

    Myrrh essential oil, resinoid, and tears (Commiphora myrrha), kua myrrh resin (Commiphora abyssinica) from Phytognosis, styrax essential oil steam-distilled from sap wood and bark tissues (Liquidamber orientalis), cypress essential oil (Cupressus sempervirens), 10-year aged Sumatran patchouli essential oil and patchouli leaves from the TAL garden, frankincense essential oil and tears (Boswellia carteri), saffron (whole stigma, Crocus sativus), galbanum essential oil (Ferula galbaniflua), opoponax resin (Commiphora guidottii), flecks of silver, single-origin olive oil, and obsidian chips.

  • $27.00$147.00

    Ancestral Empowerment

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    The Ancestors mother-blend, combined with empowering, fortifying herbs such as Solomon’s seal, High John the Conquerer root, holy basil, and Balm of Gilead, along with proprietary others, golden copal resin, citrine, garnet, genuine 24k gold, and the intent to call one's Ancestors to attention and arms. Organic cold pressed olive oil. Increases your ancestors' vigilance, ability to provide protection, and power to influence. Excellent for when going through big life changes or under attack, and you need the powers watching over you operating on all cylinders. Should you have magical requests to make of your ancestors, use this sub-series before or during petitions to activate, empower, and fortify their abilities. Anoint/ smoke tools or weapons your dead used in life, or implements of power you’d like to provide for their use on the other side, in your defense or to achieve requested aims. Anoint yourself or take a smoke bath to encourage your ancestors to watch your back, and walk at your side. Note that giving troublesome ancestors a bunch of extra energy and strength to work with isn't a great idea. This blend should be applied carefully (or avoided) for those with complicated and unresolved family histories, or asshole skeletons in the family crypt. One may, though, choose to use the Ancestral Empowerment sub-series in work targeted toward blocks of very old and wise ancestors a la the work of Dr. Daniel Foor in regards to ancestral lineage repair, or specific deceased individuals of the happy, healthy, and well-adjusted variety. Use after calling your Dead to the here-and-now via Hermanubis or The Ancestors, or standalone. Potentially effective before Channeling to make the dead louder, but also more willful. This and Comfort work to counter purpose/ cancel one another out, so I recommend avoiding that combination in the same session. Pure and uncut herbs, resins, essential oils, metal leaf, and gemstones. No fillers or artificial ingredients whatsoever. Half ounce glass vial of Ancestral Empowerment Oil for $66, Tincture, Incense, or Powder for $27 Please Note: While the Ancestral Empowerment Tincture does not contain anything poisonous or inedible, it was not created in a commercial kitchen to GMP standards, so it is not suitable or intended for consumption. Use externally to anoint yourself or objects. Keep this (and all our wares) out of reach of children. Any internal consumption is undertaken at the user’s sole risk and liability.
  • $41.00

    Beloved Dead

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    Ancestor of Art, Elizabeth Barrial of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and Twilight Alchemy Lab, ritually crafted one of three limited edition perfume oils during The Ancestral Series election. Of it, she shares —

    Before us great Death stands Our fate held close within his quiet hands. When with proud joy we lift Life's red wine To drink deep of the mystic shining cup And ecstasy through all our being leaps— Death bows his head and weeps. - Rainer Maria Rilke

    This oil has a twofold purpose: easing the transition of the dead and soothing the grief of the living. This oil can be used in ancestral work to honor the beloved dead, ease the anguish of restless spirits, help the newly dead transition, and help heal ancestral trauma. It is an oil of remembrance - of venerating the lives and accomplishments of our forebearers, of recognizing their tribulations and triumphs, and for honoring the foundation they have created for us and all that they have given us. This oil has also been crafted to help bring peace to the grieving: it is a balm for the heart that strengthens us during mourning, soothing the wracking pains of heartache and loss so that we may remember our loved ones without sorrow.

    (Please note: though this is a potent ritual blend, it is no replacement for therapy!)

    Three frankincense essential oils (two Boswellia carteri and one Boswellia serrata), wild crafted organic vetiver essential oil (Vetiveria zizanoides), Tunisian rosemary essential oil (Rosmarinus officinalis), honey absolute (Apis mellifera), rose absolute (Rosa centifolia), steam-distilled Peruvian palo santo essential oil (Bursera graveolens), and single-origin olive oil.

  • $47.00

    Seideropts Loose Incense

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    Loose incense ritually crafted during the same Ancestral Series election by Jeremy Bechelli, Ph.D., the proprietor of Phytognosis, fine purveyor of materia magica —

    This incense is deeply dark and reminiscent of rich Earth that is specifically designed to strengthen the ancestral bonds between shades and practitioner.

    The blend is composed of Kua myrrh direct from the island of Socotra, opoponax, myrrh, patchouli, vetiver root, multiple species of Artemisia including A. absinthium, and is bound together with black figs, black cherries, and blackthorn berries. Other ingredients aligned with the darker shades include star anise, wildcrafted rose petals from a cemetery, and a bit of soil with detritus.

    Myrrh is the principle resinous note of this blend and its use was to preserve the flesh of the dead, but more specifically to serve as an invitation to the Realm of Shades. The principle herbaceous component of the blend comes from patchouli, a plant that is often associated with the bare Earth, preservation, and grounding. The rose petals come from a local cemetery and provide a direct link, along with the soil, to the eternal resting grounds of the Dead.

    A lovely tribute. Arrives in a 2 oz (by weight) glass jar with cork top for $47
  • $27.00$120.00

    Ancestral Channel

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    With help from Hermanubis, The Ancestors mother-blend was combined with consecrated talismanic materia from the Moon-Neptune series and other herbs as Neptune rose in Pisces. Blue lotus, mugwort, myrrh, roman chamomile, genuine silver leaf, and other ingredients for the promotion of mediumship and psychic sensitivity, devoted to necromantic and ancestral purpose. Anoint or smoke yourself to increase perception of what your Ancestors are trying to tell you. Best used after formally inviting them via The Ancestors or Hermanubis, or giving offerings, once you've entered the communication phase of the operation. Smoke or anoint items used for divination, pens and paper for automatic drawing/ writing, or implements of seance. Ask specific questions or sit quietly with your dead and see/ hear/ feel what comes. Use this blend and tell your Dead of your woes — some of them are wonderful therapists! Or tell of your triumphs, so they can share in your joy. Smoke or anoint photographs or items of specific ancestors you would like to make contact with. Mix the powder in with a portion of their grave dirt or cremains. Note that banishing or clearing, cord cutting, and grounding are recommended after engaging with Ancestral Channel. The dead, even those that mean well, can be intensely draining if left to linger. In Sphere + Sundry terms, Asclepius Ritual SaltBath Salt, or Water are all good for this purpose, as are items from the Sol in Leo series. The herb rosemary, burning frankincense resin, and the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP) are other readily available resources.
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    Ancestral Starter Set

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    For those that desire a soft, yet fully equipped introduction to the Ancestral sphere, either from lack of experience or due to grieving, complicated family histories, and the like. Contains — ✠ Grief + Ancestral Healing Bath Salts for clearing the way, emotionally + physically ✠ Ancestral Altar for consecrating self + tools ✠ The Ancestors Self-Igniting Incense for bridging contact ✠ Ancestral Comfort Oil + Self-Igniting Incense for soothing familial irritations + calming restless dead Includes simple suggestions for getting started and everything listed above for $170
  • $123.00

    The Ancestral Series x BPAL Perfume Trio

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    All three perfume oils formulated for The Ancestral Series by Ancestor in Arte Elizabeth Barrial of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab and Twilight Alchemy Lab. ✠ Ancestral Altar by BPAL ✠ The Beloved Dead by BPAL ✠ Hekate Chthonia by BPAL $123
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    Full Ancestral Toolkit

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    The literal mother-load. Each and every item The Ancestral Series has to offer — ✠ The Ancestors Oil, Powder, and Self-Igniting Incense ✠ Ancestral Comfort Oil, Powder, and Self-Igniting Incense ✠ Ancestral Empowerment Oil, Powder, Self-Igniting Incense, and Tincture ✠ Ancestral Channel Oil, Powder, and Self-Igniting Incense ✠ Ancestral HoneyGrief + Ancestral Healing Bath SaltsAncestral Altar by BPAL ✠ The Beloved Dead by BPAL ✠ Hekate Chthonia by BPAL ✠ Seideropts Loose Incense by Phytognosis Includes a complimentary 3D printed Hermanubis statue in black for a grand total of $737


  • $66.00

    Oil of Hermanubis

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    As the Sun descended into the realm of the underworld on the day of Mercury’s exalted cazimi 2018, organic cold-pressed olive oil was combined with ritually harvested cemetery cypress, hops, barley, and other herbs and ingredients sacred to Hermes, Anubis, or favored by the dead, along with myrrh, hair from a black dog, and 24k gold leaf. Anoint glassware or plates used to make offerings to the dead, to draw their attention and stoke their appetites. Use to dress candles for necromantic operations or apply to other icons employed as intermediaries between yourself and the deceased. Apply to images or items of dead loved ones and ask Hermanubis to support them in navigating their landscape and experience, and help guide them to where they ought to be. Apply to the self to make communication with the dead easier or before channeling and seances. Apply to the heart and third eye as a meditative aid to excavate death gnosis from your immortal soul, beyond the confines of your incarnate experience, and generate comfort with your own mortality. 1/2 oz glass vial for $66
  • $18.00$66.00

    Ink of Amenti

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    A portion of the Black Walnut Ink was reserved for dedication to Hermanubis, mixed with colloidal silver and squid ink, and ritually consecrated for the purposes of communicating directly with the dead. Use in automatic drawings channeled from the realm of the deceased, sigil work, or passing love notes and requests to dead loved ones, left on altars or grave sites. 1/8 oz glass vial for $18 or 1/2 oz for $66
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    Hermanubis Candles

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    Beeswax was mixed with myrrh and dyed black before being poured over the Hermanubis herbal mix, including cemetery cypress, hops, and barley, along with some hair from a black dog. Each candle was topped with 24k gold leaf and ritually blessed by our patron, alongside the rest of the series. Acts as a lighthouse for the deceased, drawing them as moths to a flame. Burn on ancestral altars during offerings or to facilitate better connection and communication. Light during seances, while channeling the dead, or performing necromantic operations. Be specific in who you are trying to draw and consider employing a natron barrier as a ritual circle to keep from drawing wandering spirits. Can be burned as an offering to Hermanubis in exchange for guiding deceased loved ones through the other side, and helping get them to where they need to go. Light during Hermanubis operations to make invoking him easier. Available in a 2 oz glass jar for $72
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    The ancient Egyptians harvested naturally occurring natron from dry saline lake beds and used it for all manner of hygienic and household purposes, as it holds cleansing, purifying, and preserving qualities. It was also an essential ingredient in the mummification process. This natron was ritually cooked during the Hermanubis operation and left to dry throughout the night of the Mercury cazimi. The result is a salt blend which can be used to create ritual circles or barriers for containing necromantic operations, delineating boundaries for the dead, or used however else natron can be applied. It can be cut with other salts to make it go a longer way, via the principle of contamination. 1/2 oz glass vial with cork top for $13
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    Way Opening Dead-Drawing Elixir

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    Dark red wine and high proof spiced rum were ritually infused with herbal attractants for drawing the dead, blessed by Hermanubis as the Sun set on the day of Mercury’s exalted direct cazimi 2018. Spray to get the attention of the dead and draw them to a chosen space. Acts as a veil thinner between the realms of the living and deceased, and helps facilitate easier communication. Use to wake gravesites, before seances, channeling the dead, making offerings to ancestors, or performing necromantic operations. Be specific with which dead you are calling when using this spray, as it will act as a beacon for all manner of deceased. You may find it useful to create a ritual circle with natron, or form a line outside the room chosen for the operation, to keep the dead from venturing into unintended spaces. After the operation, to mitigate hauntings and loitering dead, a formal banishment is recommended. Asclepius water and salt are excellent for this purpose, as is the herb rosemary. Available in glass spray bottles with genuine copper leaf, as a sympathetic link to the concept of pennies or "coppers” being the toll paid for transportation of the dead. 1/2 oz for $27 or 2 oz for $66
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    Hermanubis Self-Igniting Incense

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    The blessed and consecrated Hermanubis herbal mix, along with myrrh resin and a very small amount of black dog hair, powdered and made self-igniting. Burn to draw the dead and oversee necromantic rites, or act as an offering to the deceased or Hermanubis himself. 1/2 oz glass vial with cork top for $27

Fine print — This is a copyright protected text by Kaitlin Coppock and Sphere + Sundry LLC. All rights reserved. Brief portions may be reproduced online, so long as credit and a link back to this article are provided. Thank you!

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