How to Honor Your Ancestors the Kamitic/Kemetic Shaman Way

28 04 2012

Hetepu Fam (Peace Family),

Hollywood here lately has been fascinated with making ghost stories and trying to claim that people worship the dead. Unfortunately, because there is not a lot of information available on the web and/or there is no community available.  Newcomers are usually led astray because of fiction writers desire to make a quick buck by preying upon individual’s ignorance about the spiritual realm.  So, to set the record straight, we don’t worship the dead.  We worship God and honor our ancestors.


Cultures all over the world honor the deceased but in Kamitic/Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) belief, every deceased relative was not considered an ancestor. The true meaning of an ancestor or an Aakhu is an individual that exercised self-discipline in life and therefore was expected to assist the living in life. Surely, you would not want to honor an individual that suffered from substance abuse in life.  This is because the same way you would not want to be around this individual in life, for obvious reasons. You would not want to be around them in death, because there is not much you would be able to learn from this individual.  You want to venerate those individuals whose self-discipline made them honorable individuals in life. Self – discipline was symbolized by the Kamitic/Kemetic people as the djed (the backbone of Osar Greek Osiris) column. The backbone was used because this is what makes us sit/stand upright, hence the djed raising image below.  In contemporary times instead of raising djed columns some people just plant trees, which has the same meaning when you understand it in its true context.

So,  one of the simplest ways to honor the ancestors in the Afro-Diaspora is to build an ancestral altar. The altar used in Kamta is inspired by the Afro-Cuban Espiritisimo Cruzado (Crossed Spiritism) tradition’s altar called a boveda.  In the Kamitic language it is called a het (house).  The reason I use this type of altar is because I have learned that it can be adapted to suit anyone’s purpose. After using it, I found that it corresponds perfectly to my Kamitic-Kongo influence, which will be explained below.

The basic guidelines are as follows:

  1. Take photos of your ancestors (deceased biological relatives you respected and/or teachers).  Then place their photos on a clean table covered with a white tablecloth. I personally do not put a tablecloth down because it is easy for ashes and soot to get on it. Then you have to dismantle the whole altar. Instead I usually place white colored seashells around the borders. The seashells serve as a barrier and act as a purifying agent instead of the white tablecloth. (See pics below)
  2. Arrange nine glasses (symbolizing the nine netcharu – Kamitic guardian spirits) into a semi-circle to represent the guardian angel(s) that governed your ancestor. Fill these glasses with cool water.
  3. Say a prayer in your own language thanking God for all of your blessings.  It is common throughout the African American and Afro-Latino communities to recite the Lords Prayer because it is a very familiar yet powerful prayer. I use it because it was the first prayer I learned that resonated with me and also because it speaks to me on a much deeper level. For instance, Our Father, who art in Heaven. Hallowed be Thy Name,” to me acknowledges that Osar is the patriarch of all who follow the Kamitic path. He is therefore, our first honorable ancestor, just like Jesus would be to the Christians, Abraham and Moses would be to the Jews and so on.   When I say, “Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven”. It makes feel like Hru (Heru, Hrw or Horus in Greek) – Osar’s heir, and is a reminder that the only way I can defeat my enemy, Set (Set-an or Satan) is by relying upon Osar (intuitively) as my guide.
  4. Then say a prayer asking that God bless, strengthen and enlighten your ancestors.  Next light a small white birthday candle and tell your ancestors how much you miss them. Ask them to assist you in your life.
  5. Since you cannot get something for nothing, because of the Maa (also called Maat or Ma’at is the Kamitic/Kemetic concept of balance, equality, justice harmony, law, order and truth), it is common practice to make an offering in exchange for your ancestors’ assistance such as a cigar (for beginners do not light), incense (e.g. frankincense, frankincense and myrrh, or sandalwood), food (fruit, slice of pound cake, etc.), beverage (strong black coffee without sugar or cream, tea or a shot of rum.  Understand, offerings are given to the ancestors all around the world because although they do not need food and shelter as we (the living) do. They are however able to absorb the energy (life-force) from things that are offered to them, in order to continue their existence.
  6. Afterwards, thank your ancestors for their assistance and allow the candle to burn down.
  7. On a day that is most convenient to you. Repeat steps 3 through 5.

The above set up is a simple modification of an Aakhu altar used in Kamta. The above basic guidelines are usually done to help individuals learn how to ignore their wayward thoughts and control their mind. Thus allowing their ancestors to communicate to them intuitively through their dreams, hunches and thoughts. It is advised that you pay attention to your dreams, thoughts and ideas.

Important Tips: 

  • Make sure that whenever burning candles and incense that they are safely away from anything that is flammable.
  • Never put salt in food that is offered to the ancestors. Salt has the tendency to repel spirits. Also, if cooked food is offered it should be removed the following day. Never allow food to decay on the altar.
  • Never put photos of those who are living on an altar for the dead.
  • Never allow your ancestors to become thirsty. Always refill the glasses with water when it evaporates out. Also, don’t give your ancestors too much alcohol, we don’t want them to become drunk.
  • Never allow the altar to fall into disarray.

Besides being a great way to celebrate the life and contributions of your ancestors. Honoring the ancestors is a great way to verify that the deceased is truly resting in peace and ensure that your ancestral heritage will not be forgotten. We must always remember that this is what Hru (Greek Horus) had to do for Osar, because this is how he acquired the double crown.

Now, recently I have been asked why I use white colored seashells. Well, there’s a couple of reasons. For one, seashells have a double meaning. They protect what is precious on the inside and protect what’s inside from that which is on the outside. This is classic Kamitic and Kongo “pun” thinking. The shells have another meaning as well, but it would take us beyond the scope of this post.   See the images below:

Afro-American burial enclosed in seashells, South Carolina 1975 by Robert Farris Thompson. Four Moments of the Sun

Afro-American burial enclosed in seashells, South Carolina 1975 by Robert Farris Thompson. Four Moments of the Sun

The other reason for doing this is because this is the tradition that our ancestors (the Africans and early African Americans) left for us to follow.

African American Congo Grave

African American Congo Grave

So, the Espiritismo Cruzado boveda or het (spiritual house) as you can see is just a modern adaptation of an old Kongo concept.

Hope this helps.


For more info. on honoring your ancestors check out Honoring the Ancestors the Kemetic Shaman Way.

Feel free to share anywhere but please credit authorship to Derric Moore and provide a link back to this article. 

To learn more visit the Land of Kam or 1 SoL Alliance.

All Rights Reserved 2012-2019



21 responses

13 09 2014

Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the
web the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you,
I certainly get annoyed while people consider worries that they
just do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also
defined out the whole thing without having side-effects ,
people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more.

13 09 2014

Thank you Corinne. Be blessed. Peace.

3 09 2015
Altars & Sacred Spaces | Under the Waning Moon

[…] to Create a Spiritual Altar How to Honor Your Ancestors the Kemetic Shaman Way How to Create and Worship at Your Altar Building an Ancestor […]

19 10 2015

Thank you for a great explanation.

22 10 2015

You’re welcome Kimmie. Glad to help. Wishing you the best.

Hetep (Peace and Blessings).

6 01 2016

Amazing! You did awesome laying out the info. A few days ago, for the first time ever, I set up an ancestor altar… I wish I would’ve found and read your post before doing it. I made the mistake of not putting a white cloth (this has me worried). I also think I was being led by my deceased aunt to make a cross on the outside of the cup that has the water with the tea I had already prepared.(funny enough she used to read the tea leaves) I didn’t do it because It reminded me of Christianity which I no longer am. Now, I regret not doing it. Should I re-do the altar and ritual? Please help!…Thanks in advance!!

8 01 2016

Hetep Martha.
There are only three rules when it comes to honoring your ancestors at an altar and they are: 1) Never put images of live people on the altar, 2) don’t add salt to the altar and, 3) don’t neglect the altar. That being said, you can do whatever you feel. If you aren’t comfortable placing the cross on your altar you don’t have to do it. It is all up to what you believe. To me, I know the cross symbolizes Christianity but it also surpasses this Christian faith and represents the Maa Aankh, thus symbolizing rebirth or the Sign of God. Again, it is up to you and how it makes you feel. Hope that helps.
Hetep (Peace and Blessings)
Rau Khu

29 06 2017
Shango Legba

Some of your information is not true or inaccurate, the christians cross is a symbol of death and crucifixion as punishment.The Ankh is the symbol of eternal life,( Life and Resurrection).

8 07 2017

Peace Shango Legba
You are correct in saying that the christian cross has been used as a symbol of death and crucifixion as punishment. However, the symbol of the cross itself predates the christian religion. It was seen as a crossroad symbol even in ancient Kemetic times, which is the reason it became synonymous with the christian savior’s resurrection. This is the reason when the Portuguese introduced the christian faith to the Kongo people, their understanding of the cross surpassed the christian beliefs because they understood it as referring rebirth for everyone and not just jesus.

Thanks for sharing.

1 02 2016

What do you advise to do with the offerings of food after you are finished?? Do I just discard it??

3 02 2016

Hetep Jazz.
If you have a compost you can place the food inside so it can be recycled. If not, make the symbol of the cross over a garbage can and place it there. Hope that makes sense.

4 07 2016
Victoria Johnson

My question is, can you ever take the altar down? Is there a certain process to follow if one did ever want to remove it? For instance, if someone was moving to a different location.

4 07 2016

Hetepu (Peace & Blessings) Victoria.

Yes you can take the altar down. Remember, the altar is a tool based upon how you feel. It reflects what is going on internally. You are not by any means obligated to keep it up because the true altar is within you. If you have to take it down for whatever reason, do so.

Hope that helps.

23 07 2016

Am I able to do this without setting up an altar? The reason I ask is because I have two young babies and they love to touch things and move them around lol please let me know thank you 🙂

28 07 2016

Great question. No you do not need to build an elaborate altar. If possible you can simply build the altar and put it on a table that it out of their reach. Hope that helps.

17 09 2016
Tracey Hylton

Today is my earth day, I’ve been up since 4:30 and doing further searching for Truths. I came across your sharing almost an hour again and completely elated to find your teachings. I have an altar and didn’t ever know this was an actual practice, I have seashells, both of my mother’s pictures, two tall white candles, a rustic cross, a Buddha, leave flowers constantly and burn sage and myrrh often. I just thank you, so much confirmation that our God and Goddess resides within us. Continued blessings and a huge thank you for sharing with your brothers and sisters. Hotep

23 09 2016

Thank you for sharing. I’m glad I came across your website. I am in the process of setting up my ancestor altar. Is it ok to use glassware with gold trim? I read somewhere else do not use metals. Also why do some religions use 7 glasses of water versus 9? I am new to this and would like to make sure I do this correct. Will you please explain and assist me with this.


28 05 2017

Hetep Princess.
Sorry for responding so late. Your ancestors are within you so the altar is basically a physical representation or a mirror of what is going on within you. That being said, you can do whatever feels right to you. No one has to right to tell you what is right or wrong in the process. If something feels right, then add it to the altar. If something feels wrong or out of place, then take it off.

I personally use 9 glasses to symbolize the 9 Kemetic divinities called netcharu. It tends to cover all of the bases and all of the ancestors regardless of what level they are on. Since there are 9 directions, 9 forces, 9 is the number of gestation period during pregnancy and so on. 9 glasses means a lot to me. If the number 7 vibes with you greatly go with 7. There must be a reason your Spirits want you rock that number of glasses.

As for the gold trim. Sounds like you got high class ancestral spirits. Again, that’s my judgment, which is why I do not want to sway you. If gold trim glasses feels cool. Then rock it! After doing so, pay attention to how it makes you feel so you can see the significance behind doing it.

Hope that helps. If you have any more questions. Feel free to reach out.

Peace and blessings.

5 12 2016
Long Shot

Reblogged this on crookedcrowblog.

26 02 2018


2 09 2018
Dawn Campbell

Thank you once again to you and the brother credited for the article for a wonderful piece of literature…I feel that I have to speak on just about every article that I read because they all resonate with my thinking and my feelings…
Hetepu ❤

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