Connecting with the Divine…Where in the Hell to Begin?

Dia de los Muertos Shrine for honoring the ancestors, Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam. Photo by Lilith Dorsey.

The struggle to connect with the Divine energies is a timeless one. Clearly it is difficult to know exactly where to begin. A wise young gentleman who attended my lecture this weekend at NYC Pagan Pride, asked me what I recommend for people just starting out who wish to reach out towards the ashe or energy of the different gods and goddesses of the Afro-Caribbean traditions of Vodou, Voodoo, or Lucumi (Santo.) Good question. I think that there are a few respectful and beneficial practices that would be appropriate for just about anyone to try.

Cleanliness Is Next to Wha?

I can not put enough emphasis on the importance of spiritual cleanliness. That’s so nice I will say it twice. I can not put enough emphasis on the importance of spiritual cleanliness. Florida water, white and/or black salt, bluing, rose water, lavender, cypress, whatever works for you, use it often and everywhere you can. I recommend using spray bottles to make sure you can quickly refresh not just yourself, but your windows, doors, corners, workspace, children, pets, and whatever ever else need be. It is important to alternate formulas, and also to make sure you include elements both for removing negativity and bringing in new blessings.

Dead Again

After a person has addressed their own personal cleanliness and the state of their spiritual space I suggest setting up an ancestor shrine. Again, this is something than can be done by anyone, it does not matter what your spiritual traditions

Ancestor Offerings at the Voodoo Spiritual Temple, New Orleans. Photo by Lilith Dorsey.

or whether you are 15 years old or 115. I have seen creations as simple as a glass of water and a white candle to much more elaborate manifestations. You may include pictures if you wish of those that have passed, however be sure not to include any photos of living people. Some believe that this may invite you to join them sooner than need be. In some spiritual houses they separate the male and female ancestors’ photos. Some individuals also take care not to place individuals who disliked each other in life next to each other in death. As always follow the directions of your godparents and spiritual teachers in this matter. In the Voodoo Spiritual Temple in New Orleans, of which I am a long standing participant, we frequently give offerings of food, flowers, tobacco, and alcohol as part of our tribute to the dead. We try to match the offerings with the things people enjoyed in life. People often ask me what they should do if they were adopted or don’t have a complete list of their ancestors. Well very few people have a complete list, after years of slavery, relocation, colonialism, records are less than complete and accurate. In those instances I recommending not only adding friends who have passed to the shrine, which is something anyone can do, and also using some meditation and divination to come up with possibilities for inclusion. Also a note about objectionable ancestors, as a rule I would not include these individuals either, if you wouldn’t have had them over for thanksgiving dinner, they don’t really have a place here. If created with respect and care an ancestor shrine can be a welcome addition to any spiritual practice.

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About Lilith Dorsey

Lilith Dorsey M.A. , hails from many magickal traditions, including Celtic, Afro-Caribbean, and Native American spirituality. Her traditional education focused on Plant Science, Anthropology, and Film at the University of R.I, New York University and the University of London, and her magickal training includes numerous initiations in Santeria also known as Lucumi, Haitian Vodoun, and New Orleans Voodoo. Lilith Dorsey is a Voodoo Priestess and in that capacity has been doing successful magick since 1991 for patrons, is editor/publisher of Oshun-African Magickal Quarterly , filmmaker of the experimental documentary Bodies of Water :Voodoo Identity and Tranceformation, author of Voodoo and Afro-Caribbean Paganism and The African-American Ritual Cookbook, and choreographer for jazz legend Dr. John's "Night Tripper" Voodoo Show. She believes good ritual should be fun and innovative, and to that end she led the first ever Voodoo Zombie Silent Rave Ritual in July 2013, complete with confused Thriller flash mob.


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