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  • Writer's pictureBriana Amos

No Altar, No Problem

Alright so maybe you’re not yet ready to set up your anesctor altar or maybe you just don’t have space or privacy for it. That’s totally ok! You don’t need an altar to connect with your dead. The altar is merely a physical realm tool. Think of it as the conference room for a meeting. I’m pretty sure the pandemic showed us that you don’t need all that for a meeting. I mean, HELLO, Zoom?! Your DNA is your Zoom. You can connect with your ancestors anytime you want to because that connection is something already living inside of you. While I know that you want to awaken & elevate that connection, you may be feeling a bit lost or unsure of how you can do so without the commitment of an altar space. So I compiled a list of seven different ways you can still show some love to your spirits without your white cloth & glasses of water.

1. Give offerings outside in nature or a cemetery. Find a large tree at your local park/nature trail or find another place in nature that you feel called to like a river or the mountains & leave your offerings there. Visit the graves of your loved ones & leave flowers, food, or any other offerings that you feel drawn to bring them. Just be very careful with how you enter & exit the cemetery. Carry a white cloth on you somewhere or wrap your head in a white headwrap to keep your energy pure. Leave some coins (preferably pennies) at the gates so the spirits guarding the cemetery can make sure nothing follows behind you when you leave. When leaving offerings outdoors, make sure you get rid of any wrappers or paper, and empty it from its container so that you are not leaving behind any litter. Take the foil off the food, pour any liquids directly onto the ground. Keep your intentions pure AND environmentally friendly.

2. Make a charity donation or do some volunteer work. Drop off your old clothes at a domestic violence shelter. Donate some money to your local school district or volunteer for a cultural community project. The key is to give to a cause that not just resonates with you but something that resonates with your ancestors lives, beliefs or culture. So if you have ancestors that were refugees or immigrants, you can give to charities & organizations that support healthy transitions. If your grandma was a regular at the church & loved it there, you can donate to their building fund or do some volunteer work there to honor her life. This is not just a great way to honor your ancestors but it’s also a great way to bring you some good karma too.

3. Write them a letter & burn it. Write a letter of gratitude to your ancestors thanking them for all they did in their lives & any blessings you’ve received from them. Gratitude is always a well received offering. Go & sit by the lake or pour yourself a glass of wine & get to writing. Thank them, express your feelings to them, ask for their help if you need it. Then burn your letter. You can keep your ashes to add to ancestral based rituals or discard the ashes in the trash.

4. Sing & dance. You don’t need an altar for this at all. All you need is yourself & some music. Play some music that your ancestors enjoyed or songs of devotion. Don’t be afraid to sing & dance along. This is a great way to invite your ancestors into your home as well as shake some stress off.

5. Help out a family member. This is another act of service you can do to connect with & honor your ancestors. Pay it forward to a loved one or offer some assistance to your elderly folks & loved ones. Displaying compassion & good character always a great way to stay on their good side.

6. Do something that continues their legacy. Keep up with your family traditions, reopen the family business, get into politics & activism. Take a look at the people you come from & see what you can do to aid in the continuation of their legacy. This can be as simple as passing down your great great grandma’s pound cake recipe or as pivotal as picking up where your uncle left in his community project. Consider restoring that family home instead of selling it. Consider selling your aunt’s favorite food on the menu at your restaurant. It doesn’t matter how small or big this act is. It’s about the intention of continuing a part of their legacy.

7. Burn some ancestor money (or real money if ya got it like that!). Joss paper, also known as ancestor money is an excellent way to honor your spirits even if you don’t have an altar. This act sets the intention to repay any outstanding debts your ancestors left behind. For example, your grandma might’ve still owed some money on the house when she passed or your dad might have had a car note he was still paying at the time he transitioned. This act sets the intention to pay off those debts & act as currency given to your ancestors in the spirit realm. Think of it like putting money on the books for your homie that’s in prison. You can write a specific intention or affirmation on your ancestor money but you don’t have to. You can simply say a prayer & burn it in a firesafe dish or outside in nature (but please, for the love of God, don’t create a forest fire). You can keep your ashes to add to ancestral based rituals or discard the ashes in the trash.

*Note: If you don’t feel comfortable doing this or want to do so on a regular basis, I offer monthly ancestor money burns as a group service done on the first Sunday of every month. Learn more about my monthly ancestors money burns via this link:

See, now you don’t have anymore excuses for not connecting with your ancestors! It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from (or what you did, as loooong as you love me! Sorry I couldn’t resist the Backstreet Boys reference), or your where you’re at in your spiritual journey. Any & everyone can access & honor their ancestors. There are more ways even beyond what I’ve mentioned here, so (insert broken record sound) don’t forget to expand your studies beyond & ALWAYS follow your intuition.

Book An Ancestral Guidance Reading With Me:


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