Rituals for the Ancestors

Rituals for the Ancestors

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Festival of the Bones

is a multicultural community ritual honoring revered ancestors. It was originated by Chief Yeye Luisah Teish and Ile Orunmila Oshun in 1995, produced annually until 2011, then again in 2014. The 2014 Digital Poster, and The 5 Directions Ancestor Altar are two of my contributions to this wonderful tradition.
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Festival of the Bones 2014

Digital Poster

Shown Left
Photo Collage made from photographs of the 5 Directions Ancestor Altar I built in 2010 (see below).
RGB Photo Collage-JPG, © 2014
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Festival of the Bones 2010

The 5 Directions Ancestor Altar

Shown in the Photographs Below
The 5 Directions Ancestor Altar was structured as an equal-armed cross of four directions extending out from the fifth direction: the center. Each arm extends about four feet. Directions relate to the elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit; and are decorated with appropriate colors, cloth, flowers, food offerings and candles.
Digital Photographs
© 2010, 2014, 2017
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Five Directions Ancestor Altar
Festival of the Bones 2010
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Above is a view of the whole altar before ritual participants arrived. The directions are: North/Earth on the left, West/Water, Center/Spirit, and South/Fire, right. The table corner below the white lily is East/Air.
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The altar developed as pictures of revered ancestors and personal, sacred objects were placed by members of Ile Orunmila Oshun. Later audience members arrived and added their ancestor pictures and offerings. In the West/Water section, Shala Rodriguez placed a bowl of salt water filled with shells on a circular net-like pattern made from efun (white chalk) and cowrie shells to honor Olokun, Orisha of the deep.
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Festival of Bones 2010  5 Directions Altar, center looking east
Center looking from the East. Wooden sculpture of Oya presiding over the directions.
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Festival of Bones, 2010, 5 Directions altar, East left, North, right
Detail: East is Left, North is Right
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Festival of Bones, 2010, 5 Directions Ancestor Altar, detail of South
Detail: South, Sean Rockey adding his ancestor pictures.
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Closeup of South on Left, East on Right with persimmons and eggplants for Oya.