Akhu basics: Do akhu play a role in your practice? How do you work with the akhu (shrines, rites, etc)? How do you set up an akhu practice?
Yes, my akhu play a huge role in my practice. Even if I don’t give them offerings, I still talk to my ancestors every single day. Some days I’m whining or crying about whatever’s bothering me and other times I’m excitedly telling them good news, but I always say hello to them.
It’s something I’ve done ever since I was a little girl. I’ve always had some sort of psychic ability, and I’ve been aware of ghosts since I was a kid. My great-grandmother Granny even appeared to me when I had a particularly nasty UTI when I was about 9 or 10 years old–I was freaked out at the time, but now I think it’s sweet.
I also told my mom that I’d see a woman with long black hair when I was really little. I don’t have any memory of it, but I was always afraid of the dark as a kid, so maybe that’s why.
Of course, I grew up in a haunted house and I’ve talked to my akhu in dreams. I made a deal with them–they can visit me whenever they want and send me signs, but I do NOT want any full-body apparitions. That would freak me out too much, haha.
But yea, even before I became a Pagan I used to pray to my ancestors all the time. I’m Italian and Irish, with a bit of Danish, so I grew up in a very superstitious Roman Catholic Italian family. My psychic abilities come from the maternal line, and pretty much every female relative on my mother’s side has seen a ghost and psychic tendencies, so praying to our ancestors for help was normal.
I even honor non-family members as akhu, such as my friend Glynn “Doc” Johnson from the PRS message boards who passed away three years ago and some of my favorite historical personages, such as Tutankhamun and Cleopatra VII. Tutankhamun has been watching over me since I was a little girl and got the brilliant idea to pray to him because we were about the same age at the time.
Aside from taking the time out every day to chat with my akhu, I will occasionally leave offerings to them and write poetry for them. I am also looking into my family’s genealogy as a way to honor the ancestors I’ve never known and find out where we come from.
While Samhain is a Celtic holiday, not Kemetic, I set aside that day to welcome my akhu back into the land of the living and hang out with them. I’m very sensitive to the thinning of the Veil, and their presence is very powerful in the circle I cast to communicate with them.
I also ask them for advice too, and they often communicate with me via dreams and signs. When my beloved cousin Denise passed away from ovarian cancer, I was very upset and that night, she came to me and I could swear that I felt her hugging me as I fell asleep.
The same night, I had a dream where she told me not to cry because she was fine and to tell her husband Tomas that she’s fine too, a message I passed on the day of her memorial service and funeral.
A few days later, when I was half-laughing, half-crying about Denise with my friend Evy, the lights in my basement and my modem went out for a minute and then went back on–I knew it was Denise saying hi.
Another way I honor my akhu is by stories–I love listening to the tales my family tells about those who have gone before, and I often re-tell them to my boyfriend and my friends. I also wear my grandmother’s ring that was given to her by my biological great-grandfather as well. Funnily enough, it fits perfectly on my hand–and I’ve been told that I look a lot like my maternal grandma. We have the same eyes, apparently.
So, my advice to you is if you want to reach out to your akhu, set up a little shrine to them. It can be as simple as a picture with an offering bowl with some candy inside and a perfume bottle or as elaborate as you like.
However, you don’t NEED shrines or rites. They help, but half the time I chat with my akhu when I’m in the shower, laying in bed, or going running. The shrines and rites help, but all you need to do is reach out and trust me, they will answer.
There’s so many ways to honor your akhu–create a photo album, wear a family heirloom, look into your family’s history, artwork, etc. All are valid offerings and I’m sure your akhu will be delighted that you’re taking the time out to reconnect with your family.
Remember, while the Gods are busy sometimes, our akhu care about us and might be more helpful in certain situations. They’re still our family members and just because they’re in a different plane of existence doesn’t mean that they’re gone, it just means it’s a bit more difficult to communicate.
Your blood is their blood. The Veil may separate us from our beloved dead, but a piece of them lives on in you and so they will never truly die.
They still love us and want to have a relationship with us, so all you have to do is take out a little time, sit down, and say hi. Trust me, they’re waiting and they will answer!