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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in ancestor altar
We're the Keepers of the Flame: Hestia's Hearth Altar

Vesta is the Roman cognate of the revered Greek goddess, Hestia, “first of all divinities to be invoked” in classical rituals. In Greece, they had public hearths called prytaneums that came under the domain of the most revered Hestia, protector of “all innermost things,” according to the great philosopher Pythagoras, who also claimed that her altar fire was the center of the earth. The altar of Vesta in classical Rome was tended by the Vestal Virgins and was also believed to be the very center of the earth. The insignia for the goddess Vesta was an altar table with flames at both ends, forming the Greek letter “pi,” which is the numerological symbol for the Pythagorean sect.

 The Vestal Virgins were the keepers of Rome’s eternal flame. It was believed that if the fire of Vesta’s altar went out, the Roman Empire would fall. In the fourth century, C.E., Christians extinguished the vestal fire and began the process of erasing pagan religions and symbols.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Hamlet-with-skull-of-Yorick.jpgThou know'st 'tis common;
all that lives must die,

Passing through nature to eternity.”

We come to this New Moon in Scorpio still within the tide of Samhain, All Hallows, Day of the Dead. There’s a reason all those holidays happen around the middle degrees of Scorpio — there is truly a thinning of the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead at this time of year (and don’t let anyone tell you the veil isn’t there at all — if it wasn’t, we’d all be dead).

Do you honor your ancestors as part of your spiritual practice? If not, this would be a good time to start. The New Moon in Scorpio always brings us to a time of introspection, a time to face our deepest needs and fears, commune with our beloved dead, and welcome deeply transformative experiences. I’ll tell you an experience I had with an African ancestral ritual a little later in this post, and why I think working with our ancestors is important. Meanwhile, back to the astrology…

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Bring Out Your Dead!  Bring Out Your Dead!

There's so much during this season that I find myself trying to find any lightness, any humor. Hence the title of this piece. We hardly need to bring them out, Python-style, when they are insistently demanding our attention as the nights grow like looming stalactites.

Tonight I want to write a bit about Ancestor altars.  Do you have one?  Do you leave it up, year-round, or put it up just after the Autumnal Equinox?  I've been asking colleagues which they prefer and it's about evenly divided.  For the record, I keep one up year-round because my root work is dependent on keeping my Ancestors in-the-know.  And also, happy.  I like some happy Ancestors, me.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Hello Byron - A great read. I build an altar, sometimes a few altars for my Beloved and Mighty Dead. I'll cook and eat foods tha
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Thanks! I think the food thing is terribly important. And the liquor thing--at least for my Ancestors.

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