ANCESTRAL VENERATION: THE AFRICAN WAY
Ancestral veneration is a key component of the Ifa and Orisa tradition as well as indigenous spiritual traditions around the world. One can even consider ancestral veneration and acknowledgement as a spiritual practice and not religious as it transcends any one particular religion or ethnic group.
The Yoruba tradition from SouthWestern Nigeria, however has an unbroken chain of practice of the ancient art of ancestral veneration and invocation which makes it a great medium to learn about and access ancestral energy.
There are various ways that you can venerate you ancestors. The best way to proceed before venerating your ancestors is getting an ancestral reading. This will allow you to find out what particular messages the ancestors have for you. You will also find out which offerings are needed by the ancestors.
In addition to this, the following are some ways you can venerate your ancestors. This list is not exclusive.
1. Ancestral Offerings- This is the most basic way of venerating your ancestors and includes anything from putting aside some food that you eat for them on a plate, to setting up a small altar and placing food there for them. Instruction on how to give ancestral offerings is usually something taught by one's spiritual elder. Ancestral offerings are a part of all of the ancestral rituals and ceremonies which follows.
2. Opa Egun Ceremony- This ceremony is a diasporal way of honoring our ancestors and consists of receiving a stick which is consecrated and thereafter used to call and connect with one's ancestors. The stick which is presented is connected to the atori whip which some Egúngún masquerade carry in Nigeria. It is a ceremony which is often one which is used to introduce beginners in the art and science of ancestral veneration. During this ceremony you are taught how to erect an ancestral altar and present offerings to your ancestors using the stick. This is a one day ceremony. To inquire more about doing this ceremony click here.
3. Opa Iku Ceremony- This ceremony is a traditional method of more involved ancestral veneration. It is an ancestral rite of passage wherein the devotee is presented with a consecrated ancestral shrine which is a powerful spiritual technology allowing one direct access to the ancestral realm. Whereas the Opa Egún ceremony allow you to erect an altar, with an Opa Iku, you have an ancestral shrine. A part of the training which comes with this ceremony is basic obi divination and ancestral invocation utilizing special incantations. This is a one day ceremony. To inquire more about doing this ceremony click here.
4. Ancestralization-Ancestralization is a ceremony from the Dagara tradition which helps our dearly departed ancestors who have not crossed over to pass into the ancestral realm. Crossing over to the ancestral realm is not always automatic. There are various reasons why a deceased has not crossed over. It is a powerful and emotional ceremony which establishes our dearly departed into the realm of the ancestors where than can be more of a benefit to us and themselves. This is a three day ceremony and concludes with the consecration of sacred objects representing the ancestors who are now crossed over. To inquire more about doing this ceremony click here.
5. Ancestral Feast- An ancestral feast is a small dinner party for the ancestors. It includes setting up an altar and providing various food items for them. Prayers and songs are offered. This method is one requiring the least amount of comittments on behalf of the devotee. Once you do your feast, you are done. To inquire about organizing an ancestral feast click here.
6. Egúngún Initiation- Initiation to Egúngún is one of the most elaborate and devoted ways one can venerate their ancestors. This includes initiation in the secret ancestral cult of Egungun. Among other esoteric spiritual technologies, a consecrated Egungun masqerade is constructed for the newly initiated priest. For full details about this click here for you inquiries.
6. Egúngún Festival- A common way of venerating the ancestors is by organzing an Egúngún festival. During this ceremony an Egúngún masquerade will come out into the community to bless, dance and sometime punish evil doers. Egúngún festivals are family and community rituals. To organize an Egungun festival click here with your inquiry.
One of the ways in which the Yoruba venerate their ancestors is through the Egúngún masquerade.
The Egúngún masquerade is a Yoruba spiritual technology which harnesses ancestral energy and allows the wearer to speak with command, authority and power of the ancestors. The wearer becomes an embodiment of the ancestors. It gives them "ase l'enu" that is the power to speak with the authority and power of the mouth. When they speak, the ancestors speak. Many of the mysteries of Egúngún and its icons have to do with the use of spiritual medicine for the protection and benefit of human beings. To see an Egungun in action, click on the video below.