Everyone has the power and ability to make direct contact with those of their lineage crossed into the spirit realm. Communication with one’s ancestral spirits is key in truly knowing and understanding who we are and navigating through this lifetime. Most importantly, this is your birthright and has been the way of life for indigenous people. There are many ways in which one can connect with their ancestors. For me, the main component is in the construction of a boveda or ancestral altar. Boveda is a Spanish term that literally translates to vault or tomb.
The boveda is a sacred space created for reverence and offerings to one's ancestors and spirit guides that in turn can provide clarity, protection, progress and the strengthening of one's spiritual frame/ aura. It is a portal, the bridge between Heaven and Earth, the land of the living and dead. It is used as a focal point for prayer, meditation as well as divination.
Like with all things, there are many ways to erect a boveda. I was initially taught by an elder Espiritista from Puerto Rico and have had a few other teachers along the way. Through the guidance of my spirits and a conjuration of all their teachings, I have developed my own style of boveda working. Here I will give you the basics and upon the solidification of a connection, a little ritual and devotion; you too will be guided on how your spirits would like you to work with it.
Traditionally, the shrine is on a small table covered with a white cloth, fresh flowers, incense, white candles and either one big goblet or 3, 7, or 9. I like to work with nine but it’s all up to what your spirit is drawn to. Nine is the number of the dead. It is the highest on the number line, thus representing completion, death and rebirth all together. Each of the nine glasses is to be filled with fresh cool water and changed once a week or whenever the glasses get cloudy. The water is there to provide clarity, purification, and life to the spirits so it must be kept clean. The main glass is to be dedicated to the Creator, the Most high and the other eight can be dedicated to ancestors or groups of spirits. Most commonly, the glasses are placed in the formation of the large glass in the middle and the other in a circle around it. But working the boveda is a system so there are many different formations.
A great part of solidifying a bond with your ancestors is through ritual. I suggest committing to a particular day to service your boveda. I like Sunday or Monday but it can be any day of the week, it’s truly up to you. For the elevation and clarity of our spirits, cleanliness is paramount. Be sure you are clean and always make sure your space is clean and free of clutter and debris. Cover the table with white cloth; smudge the area with cigar smoke, sage, or palo santo .Add fresh Water to your glasses and arrange them, provide fresh flowers, prepare and light white candles and light incense. Place offerings of coffee to wake your spirits up, candies, pastries, cigarettes, alcohol or any foods your ancestors may like. Take the time to call on their names. If you do not know them, generally state that you are calling on your ancestors of elevated and moral character whose names you do not know. In time, they will reveal themselves. Offer them prayer. Talk to them like you talk to your best friend. Take the time to commune and meditate with them. Listen for their guidance and instructions. Use your divination tools. Write in your journal.
Keep the boveda clean, white, and with light at all times. As soon as the water turns cloudy, the spirits lose clarity. Fresh water is essential. Dispose of old water outside or use it for magical purposes (unless it’s cloudy). Replace dying flowers immediately and do not allow food offerings to spoil or attract bugs. Greet the shrine DAILY when you wake up and service it weekly.
The steps are simple and with consistency and devotion this portal will honor those whose strong shoulders you stand upon, open your roads to the manifestation of your desires, develop and increase your intuition, provide protection and strength through spiritual, physical, and emotional warfare plus so much more!
Balance, light + perfect love