Why You Should Honor Your Aakhu (Ancestors and Spirit Guides)

19 07 2017

Hetepu (Peace & Blessings) Family.

I am very glad that the information about ancestor veneration is helping a lot of people. Recently, I just received a couple of questions asking why I venerate my ancestors using this particular medium or method I use, and. Second, what is the practical benefit of venerating the ancestors?

Het Aakhu (House for Ancestors and Spirit Guide)

Well. The short answers to these questions is that 1) ancestor veneration helps me to see my purpose in the world, 2) ancestor veneration helps you to really understand history, and. 3) It raises your consciousness so that you are not so reactive but proactive in your thinking.

Let me explain what I mean:

1) How Does Ancestor Veneration Help Me to See My Purpose in the World?

As I have mentioned, I venerate my ancestors and spirits (aakhu) from a Kemetic shamanic perspective or Kamta. As I have written in previous posts, it was an elderly Black Cuban man whom I called Papa that introduced me to Espiritismo Cruzado (Crossed Spiritism) and encouraged me to make it my own. I adopted it because 1) it goes by how you feel, meaning you add or subtract from it based upon how feel. This means no one (alive or dead) has the right to tell you how to work with your aakhu. This is important especially for people who come from a dogmatic religion where we are taught to put our faith in a Deity and/or follow some individual who may not have our best interests. No. You are in total control. There is no blind allegiance or obedience. If something does not feel right. Take it off. It is that simple. 2) It does not require you to be initiated and you do not need a priesthood. 3) Truth is not based upon what everyone else is doing, but based upon the tangible results you get.

I remember when Papa first told me about Espiritismo Cruzado.  The most attractive feature about adopting and modifying the boveda into a het aakhu (Kemetic for ancestor and spirit guide house), was that one statement which is that “Truth is not based upon what everyone else is doing, but based upon the tangible results you get.” It wasn’t until I really began to put into practice what he taught me that I began to really make a connection with the Divine. This is why the het aakhu has nine goblets instead of the typical seven because it is meant to honor my aakhu (ancestors and spirit guides) and the Kamitic guardian spirits who are a reflection of me. It is also the reason why African, Native American and other spirits can be placed on the het aakhu because it wasn’t the same spirits that existed in Cuba, Brazil, Venezula, etc. However, similar spirits did and continue to exist in North America.

This is how I really began to understand the netchart Maat and was rid of the whole Western good versus evil dichotomy. Because what is good for someone may be evil for another. Think about that and how it relates to white supremacy in regards to religion, education, business, employment, etc. Ancestor veneration helped me to come into my own and realize that what’s good for me may not be good for someone else.

2) How does ancestor veneration help me to really understand history?

In the united states history is all about reciting dates and events. It is not made relevant. When I got serious about honoring my aakhu, I was being inspired in various ways and led me to see things from a different perspective.

As I mentioned my parents were good parents. They did the best they could given what they had. Growing up we were surrounded with all types of positive black images from artwork (and not that bougie Ernie Barnes painting got at the swap meet. You know the one that was featured on Good Times…laugh).  They also had the staple Jet and Ebony magazines. We would go to downtown Detroit to celebrate MLK Day and I remember my parents participating in the city choir when Nelson Mandela came to the Detroit. But, guess what? That was not enough.

Why? Because African American history did not begin when our ancestors were brought to this country. Most of everything that my parents and others had done was in response to slavery and the horrific treatment we had to endure as a people. You see, African Americans since we were brought to this country had to overcome several barriers that no other people have had to endure. First, we had to prove that we were human beings because we were treated worse than animals. Second, we had to prove that we were intelligent human beings. Third, we had to prove that we could get along or assimilate in order to get employment. This is why we were taught “proper” English, so my parents like so many did a great job but, now our present fight is the fight for empowerment.

My parents’ generation was in survival mode. They did not teach us how to build for our own because they were just trying to get a job so that they can keep food on the table and a roof over their family’s head. As a result, many of them believed in the American Dream and why?

It was because the American Dream is what a lot of Black Churches used to preach, promote and push.  It is not the church’s fault all together but that was part of the movement at the time but it was during this period.  A lot of people were taught to be ashamed of their Africanness and who wouldn’t have been? When every time you heard something about Africa in this country it was either some war torn country or some bloated belly child living in a famine stricken land. So, this negative imagery was promoted to make people think and feel, that even though we are being abused, we got it better over here.

Ancestor veneration corrected this misconception for me and helped me to understand this our ancestral perspective. When I first began honoring aakhu, I began with Martin L. King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell, W.E.B. DuBois and several other historical figures because they inspired me to go to college in order to serve my community. I honored Malcolm X because he inspired me to learn about my history and focus more on nationalism and sovereignty.  It was Malcolm who inspired me to meet and take classes from Imari Obadele who was the president of the Republic of New Afrika where I learned about the various slave revolts that occurred in this country.

This led me to learn about the relationship that the Native Americans had with early African Americans. I’ve learned that although some Native American tribes practiced slavery, a number of Indians intermarried with Africans, fought alongside the Africans in the Seminole War, hid escaped slaves as was the case in Louisiana (hence the Mardi Gras Indians) and were accompanied on the Trail of Tears. Consequently, I have Native American aakhu who act as scouts and tribes because that is how they were remembered by my family. So, ancestor veneration has basically helped me to fill in the voids. Of course, I also have African aakhu who have helped me to understand the old religion, their new tradition and why they converted to Christianity, and these aakhu are peppered all over the altar.

The thins is that the aakhu will whisper information in your ears, reveal things in your dreams and lead you too books to confirm what they are saying, and this is one great benefits to venerating them.

3) How does ancestor veneration raise your consciousness so that you are not so reactive but proactive in your thinking?

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Like I said, I was inspired by a lot of heroes and two of the people I have great respect and admiration for both W.E.B. DuBois and Marcus Garvey.  History reveals that DuBois played a role in Garvey’s movement come to an end. What was DuBois’ role exactly, no one knows for sure. We also know that after Garvey left the country, it is not known if DuBois was disappointed, disgusted or had come out of his disillusionment. But, he had become a Pan Africanist and was influential in the independence of several African countries.

Now, the lesson I learned from both DuBois and Garvey is that some ‘other’ people have an agenda. In fact, my aakhu have helped me to see that other peoples’ use the same four things to destroy a movement are: money, sex, drugs and internal bickering.

What’s even more amazing is that money, sex, drugs and strife are all tools of Set, so any time you see signs of things. Know that Set is plotting your downfall.

So you see, ancestor veneration allows you to see mythological or archetypal patterns that occur in history and helps you to navigate around them. Remember, if you do not learn from from the mistakes of the past, history will repeat itself. 

It is because me venerating my aakhu that although I use the term African American because I remember spokesman from Jesse Jackson visiting my high school and encouraging us to do so. I identify myself as an African/Afrikan because of my culture, my heritage and ancestry; inside America because I was born here. My family was born here and no other people, other than the Native Americans, have died and worked for it. Therefore, it is my country, so I am an Afrikan in America.

The point that I am making is that we all have a host of spirits who are willing to assist us in any endeavor, which is allegorized in the Story of Osar in the relationship between the hero Hru who could not defeat his evil uncle, Set until his ancestor/spirit guide Osar, interceded on his behalf. That being said, I encourage you to get into the practice of honoring your aakhu. You will be amazed at how much clarity you will receive and how your life will get dramatically better.

Hope this helps.

Hetepu.





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.

Boveda

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.

Hetep

For more info. on honoring your ancestors check out The Science of Honoring Your Ancestors.

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