The Village Witch, my pagan friend Byron Ballard, recently did a post on the practice of creating little altars in the home to honor one's ancestors at and around Samhain.
On reading her post, I realized that I inadvertently do this every year when I take the blue and white collections out of the corner cupboard and fill it with things that speak to me of Fall -- bones and rocks and wood; crows and cows and pigs, Old things, solemn things. . .
A pre-Columbian piece of pottery, rocks from a river in the Dominican Republic, a cat's skull found in Tennessee, and an old photo of a wary-looking little girl -- sent to me by the Village Witch herself. (She said it reminded her of me.)
Some crows -- my favorite birds -- a raccoon skull, and another old photo, sent to me by my niece Amelia -- a Mr. Lane found in a junk shop. Distant kin? Perhaps.
A Junonia shell my mother-in-law found, a squirrel from my parents' house, pottery from Mexico, and a cow with wings because why not?
Looking around, I realize that our whole house is an ancestor altar. We have a wall of ancestor pictures . . .
And a cabinet )my mother's) of ancestors' mementos -- my grandmother's bridal slipper, my father's captain's bars, a baby bonnet, a lighter, a gold watch, spectacles, a leather change purse . . . and, of course, more pictures.
I could go through the house pointing out the bed my grandmother died in, the table that stood in John's family's house, the secretary that belonged to my maternal grandparents, the marble-topped chest from my paternal grand parents . . .
It seems a fine way to honor one's ancestors -- living with and using the same things they loved.