More Ideas for Creating Your Ancestral Altar Items

Create a collage card: A powerful tool for accessing and acknowledging the ancestors

This exercise is based on the process called SoulCollage®, as described by Seena Frost in her book, SoulCollage® Evolving

The ancestors love to pop up in the most surprising and often delightful ways. They may choose to show themselves through images of animals, perhaps a pet, or a farm animal, or a bird. They could also be evoked through an image of a house, or a landscape. Perhaps you will run across an image in a book or magazine that reminds you of an ancestor, or that captures your attention for some unknown reason. The image triggers a memory or emotion, or a vague recognition. When this happens allow yourself to pick up the image. Cut it out if it is in an old book or magazine that you use as a source of images. Of course, you can also use copies of actual photos of ancestors for this exercise if you have them. Cut around the image carefully.

Next, allow yourself to be guided by the image as you assemble a small collage (large index card sized). Ask the image what type of background it would like. Play with different backgrounds such as buildings, landscapes, or interior scenes. Try different additions to the collage and ask yourself if they feel right. Try to remain in your intuitive mind as you create this collage card. Allow and the images to be an opening for the ancestor to appear to you.

When you feel finished with your collage, place it on your altar. You will be working with this card or photo in future exercises. For now acknowledge the image and thank him or her for showing up in visual form.

Collage card of ancestor by Audrey Chowdhury

Create a Question Jar or Box

Find a jar or box that would fit well on your altar. A vintage or “vintage like” container of some kind (like a mason jar) would work well. Decorate it if you like with copies of vintage photos, magazine images or objects. You can paint it, collage it, use tissue paper and watery glue to cover it, wrap it in a beautiful wrapping paper, whatever appeals to you. Place it on your altar. This will be your “question container”. Have some strips of paper and pen next to it. Whenever a question occurs to you, write it down and put it in the container. Be sure to note if it is a question for a specific ancestor, or if it is one that you would like to ask all of your ancestors. These questions can be things like: What toys did you play with? What was your favorite subject in school? What were your chores as a child? Were you ever sick as a child? Did you have any pets? My favorite question for my grandmother is “what was in your apron pockets?”

As you begin to fill this jar or box with questions, more will occur to you as you go through your day and through this process. Perhaps they will come to you in dreams. If you are interested in a particular ancestor, consider reading a novel, or watching a movie about the period during which they lived. New questions may come to you as you learn more about what their lives were like. Be sure to add them to your question jar. It may be helpful to have a jar for specific family lines, or ancestors. There is no limit to the number of question containers you can add to your altar.