I perform my annual Ancestor Rite on July 15th, for personal reasons, but you can choose any day that has a special meaning to you. If my date falls on a weekend, when I am off, I can complete the entire rite in one day. If not I perform the ritual in my home, at my altar to my ancestors, on July 15th, and then visit their graves on my next day off. I am fortunate, I only have to visit 4 cemeteries, and several are fairly close to one another. This year I decided to take my vacation during this week so I can really show them the honor and respect that they deserve.
My ancestral altar in my home has pictures and momentos of those who I knew either personally, or through tales that my family told me of them. For those I never knew, or heard about, I keep the book written about my family, by Teunis G. Bergen in 1866, on the altar. This book has a short story for each of my early family members, including my first ancestor to this country, Hans Hansen ( 1633). After consecrating the altar with my Thor's Hammer, I call the Gods and Goddesses, and my ancestors to my humble home. I then read the short stories of the first 9 generations, ( the ones I never knew ), and then I remember a story , or moment that I cherish with those I knew personally. Then I perform the main part of the ritual. I never tell anyone what to say during a ritual ! Use your own words ! And besides this is a very personal rite. I will say this however, because this is a blood relation ancestral rite, I do cut my finger, and share my blood with them in an offering bowl. If you choose to do this use a sterlized sharp knife and do not cut very deeply ! Just deep enough to get a few drops of blood !
I always have mixed emotions about this ancestral rite. It brings back such fond memories of my parents and grandparents, but it also brings back the pain I felt when they passed away. I feel so happy when I feel them with me during the ritual, but afterwards the loneliness of their absence is almost unbearable. The cycle of life and death is just something we have to learn to accept and live with and I try to remember that they are not truly gone, just not with us here .
This rite is a very personal ritual, and I believe that it should be limited to only family members. However, sometimes there is a friend of the family, who was very close to one or more of the deceased ancestors, and I see no harm in allowing them to participate in the ritual. The main point of this ritual is to honor our ancestors by showing them that they are not forgotten, and that our love for them has not diminished. Our ancestors gave us our lives, and the world that we live in, it is only right and respectful to honor them with the love they deserve, for the wonderful deeds that they performed during their reign on earth. May the Gods and Goddesses, look after our ancestors, now and forever ! Hail, all those who came before me in my bloodline !
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love and Thor's protection !