How to Work with Deities and Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide

images of ancestors and deities for witches

Protection and banishing, among other tasks, are a lot easier when you have your Ancestors or a Deity by your side. You will still need the big guns like a banishing spray, for dark entities such as unwanted demons and stronger spirits that need to be exorcised exorcized on some occasions. However, banishing as a task is made much easier when you have a fluid relationship with either your Ancestors or a Deity. Of course, you can’t just ask Hekate or your great grandparents for help if you haven’t formed a relationship with them first. How do you go about that, though?

Working with Your Ancestors

As a general rule, ancestors are far more accessible than Deities. After all, they are your own blood. If they share your last name, they want to see you succeed and continue to bring honor to your name. After all, it’s their name too. Mallorie Vaudoise says there are several types of ancestors:

Blood Ancestors are the ones that literally share a bloodline with you.

Lineage Ancestors may include the lineage of your adoptive parents or your spouse.

Affinity Ancestors are people in the spirit world with whom you share an important characteristic. For instance, if you are part of the LGBTQ+ community, Freddie Mercury, Emily Dickinson, or Oscar Wilde may be Affinity Ancestors for you. If you are a musician, Johann Sebastian Bach and Kurt Cobain may both be Affinity Ancestors. And so on. 

Working with Deities

Working with Deities can get trickier than working with ancestors. They have to show an interest in working with you. They show this interest by showing signs, which may vary from Deity to Deity. You may see a lot of black dogs if Hekate is trying to communicate with you, or cows if it’s Brigid who’s trying to get to you.

You can get a Deity reading or Deity confirmation through Etsy. To stay on the safe side, get two or three and see whether the same Deity crops up in multiple readings. You can also ask your Akashic Records who’s watching over you and which Deity is open to working with you. Once you know from a safe source which Deity is willing to work with you, the process doesn’t differ all that much from Ancestor veneration.

You can reach out to a Deity yourself. However, pay attention, they will clearly say “no” if they don’t want to work with you. You have to respect this boundary or they will retaliate. If you don’t respect their boundaries, they may wreak havoc in your life to communicate how upset they are by your disrespect.

If you work for multiple deities, be advised that they don’t always get along, and you may need separate Altars for each one. 

Consistency is key with Deities. If you are not consistent with your offerings, they may interpret that as a sign of loss of interest from you. They may then leave, sometimes without a desire to return.


examples of offerings for a deity

It’s easier with Ancestors. They already know you and want to work with you, something you should never take for granted with Deities. The process is more or less the same for either one, though. You start by making offerings. You should start with small offerings, and then gradually start going bigger. You leave your offerings on your Altar. 

A small offering is a candle, a glass of water, and a prayer. A bigger offering is a party thrown in their name, a pilgrimage, or a big-ticket item they can use as a tool. I come from a long line of writers, so I am saving up to buy my ancestors an antique typewriter as a bigger offering – that’s an example of a big offering.

Start with a glass of water, a prayer, and a candle. If you’re working with a Deity, make sure the candle matches one of their preferred colors. If you’re working with Hekate, use a black candle. If you’re working with Archangel Michael, use blue or red, and so on. Cleanse the candle with running water, taking care not to get the wick wet. Carve the name of your Deity or Ancestors (you can include your last name and your mother’s maiden name as a way to represent them all).

use candles as an offering for ancestors

Then, inhale and exhale on the candle so it gets to know your energy. Grab some olive oil and put it on your fingers and anoint the candle. As you’re trying to attract help and guidance from your Ancestors, the motion to anoint your candle should be from the top of the candle to the bottom (to attract). Light a match and hold the fire to the bottom so it will safely stick to the candle holder. Then, light the candle and snap your fingers three times or use a ceremonial bell for it to be activated. This works like an offering of the energy of Fire to your Ancestors or Deity. It is also a sign that you’re ready to communicate if they are. You can ask the candle questions and write Yes and No on pieces of paper, put them on either side of the candle and see which side the flame goes to, for example. At the beginning, though, refrain from asking questions, let them get to know you and observe you.

Spirits such as Ancestors and Deities also like water. It energizes them. If it’s Moon or Sun water, much better, but a simple glass of water will also do. You can also bless the water by placing your hands over it and praying. Make sure to change the water once or twice a day. If left out for too long, it can start to develop bacteria. Water also holds onto the energy of a room. When it starts to get bubbly, you know that it has absorbed the negativity present in the room. Get rid of it immediately. Any sort of contaminated water will be perceived as an insult by your Ancestors or the Deity you’re trying to communicate with. It could also be a health hazard to any pets, children, or even clueless adults in the household, who may think the water is there for them to drink.

Prayers and songs are also appreciated by both Ancestors and Deities. If you’re praying to your Ancestors, you can choose a prayer from their religion, even if you don’t share it. I like to pray a whole rosary in honor of my Catholic ancestors every once in a while, even though I am not Catholic myself. If you want to keep the prayer more secular, saying their full names out loud and phrases like “May your Soul rest in peace” works fine, too.

Deities have a lot of prayers associated with them. You can find them in books dedicated to them as well as online. Pick one that resonates with you and handwrite them. Read out loud until you’ve memorized them and then recite them from memory.

Prayer is a great way to connect to your Ancestors when you’re away from your Altar. This is so because you don’t need to carry anything special to pray, perhaps just a journal where you have copied the prayer. It’s also great for those of you who are in the broom closet, as you can pray when no one’s watching you without any trace.

Ancestors and Deities also enjoy gifts based on scent, such as incense or essential oils in a diffuser. Flowers and fruit are also adequate gifts, but check that the flowers are not toxic to your pets. If you can get ahold of some loose leaf tobacco, spirits like that as well. Putting it on a plate is an adequate way to offer this substance.    

teas herbs and flowers as offerings for deities and ancestors

In short, working with your Ancestors is generally less tricky than working with Deities. You can work with a Deity as long as you make sure that you take some extra precautions. These precautions include respecting their boundaries and wishes, being consistent, and trying to gain knowledge of which Deity wants to work with you from a reliable source. Leaving offerings is a great way for your Ancestors and Deities to get to know you and see that you’re committed to working with them.


Vaudoise, Mallorie. Honoring Your Ancestors: A Guide to Ancestral Veneration. Llewellyn, 2019.  

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