This is skipping ahead of bit in the series I had planned, but it is the season for this kind of work!
Now, I wouldn’t try this kind of magic if you are new to working with the ancestors or spirits generally. I am suggesting this for folks who already have a relationship with their ancestors or other spirits and are looking at working with them in another way.
Ancestor Work 101:
I’ll assume there are folks who will dive right in regardless of my little warning. So I do want to give a few reasons why you don’t want to start here. Across many kinds of spirit lore, there are warnings of “trickster” spirits or spirits who are willing to pretend or in personate (so to speak) other spirits in order to receive attention from the witch, magician or other magical type person. For example, a spirit may enjoy the offerings you’re leaving out for your dear Aunt Sally and so will basically tell you what you want to hear in order to keep those offerings coming. So when working with spirits, it’s encouraged to be a bit skeptical and “test” the spirit for who they are.
Generally, if you’ve been working with your ancestors for a long time or have other spirit allies in your life, often their presence is enough to dissuade tricksters (or even less friendly spirits) from messing with you. It’s one of the fringe benefits from having good relationships with other kinds of spirits. They look out for you on those realms. In hoodoo, one of the ways to get started in ancestral work is to get some grave yard dirt from someone you love and who cared for you.
The grave yard dirt acts like a link to their specific spirit, so there is less likelihood that you’re getting a different spirit. If you’re planning to do this work, go to the grave of a beloved ancestor that you wish to speak to in your dreams. Ask them if they would be willing to talk to you about your concern. Listen quietly for an answer. If you’re not skilled at that, bring a pendulum and use that for to get a yes or no.
If yes, leave an offering. A silver dime is tradition, but, for beloved dead, I find leaving flowers and tending the grave is potent enough as an offering on its own. Take some grave yard dirt how with you and place it in beautiful bottle or box.
In the end, take spirit work seriously. I have never (nor do I know anyone) who as been possessed by spirit in the sense as it looks in movies or horror fiction. Spirit can and do influence people to act more like them. That can be a good thing with the right spirit. However, trickster spirits often will lead you in to trouble and counsel you poorly. When letting spiritual forces and beings into your life, be cautious.
Set the Stage:
Make sacred space and put up your protections around your home as you know how. (If you don’t know how, don’t do this until you do.) Build an altar for your ancestors. If you’re not sure how to make an altar, start with a small table. Cover it with a white cloth. Place pictures of the ancestor you’re wishing to make contact with. Place flowers, favorite foods (unsalted) or other items as gifts to that spirit. At the very least, have a glass of water on the altar of him or her. Place the box with the dirt from the grave if you have it. I follow the lore of not putting ancestor altars in the bedroom (as it is disrespectful to be naked or have sex in front of your ancestors). Burn some incense (3 teaspoons powdered wormwood and 1 teaspoon powdered Solomon’s seal is good one).
Incubate the dream:
Call out your ancestor’s name and ask for their help and verbally describe question or help you need. Look the photos of them. Write a letter addressed to them explaining your question or help you need. Fold it up and leave under their picture. Go to bed. Be sure to have a dream journal handy. As you fall asleep, remember your ancestor and imagine you are speaking to them and ask your question or request the help (third time is the charm). In morning, write down your dreams. It may be clear, with the ancestor in the dream giving you counsel. Or the dream may require interpretation. Or you may not remember the dream at all. Regardless, go the altar and that the ancestor for their help and aide. If you don’t remember the dream or are lost, attempting this procedure again and letting them know that you’re confused is fine. You’re working with a spirit of someone who loves and cares for you. I think they’ll be patient with you.