The Boveda: Your Ancestral Shrine
A Boveda is not an altar for the Saints, it is a seperate table for your ancestors and spirit guides. A Boveda is usually a white table cloth draped over a small end table. It is fine to place offerings for your spirits such as a black cup of coffee, candy, tobacco, or other things your spirits enjoyed when they were alive. On the altar you can have:
- Large goblet filled with cold water (tap is fine)
- A standing metal cross or a metal crucifix to submerge in the goblet of water
- A Rosary
- Florida Water
- A seven day white candle or plain white candle
- Holy water
- Crushed egg shell powder known as Cascarilla
- A Bell
- A Bible (and a Book of Common Prayer if desired)
- Selected prayers by Alan Kardec
- Fresh flowers
- Image candles reflecting the guides you are working with.
You do not need to run out and buy everything at once. The best way to start your Boveda is taking a white cloth and placing a single white candle and a single glass of water on it. After you get a reading with your Espiritista you will be directed on how many glasses to put on your shrine.
Metal cross submerged in the goblet of water
The central focal point of the Boveda usually is an aluminum or metal cross or crucifix with Jesus on it within the large goblet of water. Craft stores like AC Moore and Michael’s sell oversized glass wine goblets that are perfect for this. The metal cross acts as a conductor of spiritual energy that attracts your spirits and ancestors. The cross or crucifix within the goblet represents the four cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance, as well as the four cardinal directions of north, east, south, and west. The crucifix symbolizes the crossroads between life and death, the liminal space, and the immortality of the soul. The cross represents life, death, and rebirth. The cross is not just a Christian symbol but has been used since time immemorial to represent these concepts. Whether you see Jesus dying on the cross to save the world from its sins or Odin sacrificing himself to himself to gain occult knowledge of the runes is up to you. Your spirits know the difference.
Praying the Rosary daily is part of this spiritual program. The Rosary is a meditation on the life of Jesus from the standpoint of his mother Mary using Catholic prayer beads known as the Rosary. It is a set of recitations that summarize the entire gospel. It can be recited in about fifteen minutes once you memorize all the prayers. Make a commitment to yourself to do this spiritual discipline everyday, at the same time of day. Praying the Rosary is purifying for the soul and comforting to the spirits. A seven day white candle or plain white candle The most important gift we can give to our spirits, according to my mentor, is light. Light, prayers, and water. As we elevate so do they. All of us are born with seven spirit guides with one taking the lead as our head spirit. When we sit down and light the candle we are communicating with our guides. We are signalling to them we are ready to do the work. It is this Sacred Flame, that has been used as the symbol of the Secret Fire, that connects us to the Divine since time immemorial.
Holy Water, Florida Water, and Cascarilla
You can sprinkle Holy Water around your home, Boveda, and on yourself to spiritually cleanse and protect you. You can do the same with Florida Water. Cascarilla usually is bought in a pack and contains little cups filled with the powder. Santeros will use Cascarilla like chalk for drawing protective circles and sigils.
A Bell, Colognes, and Incense
These tools are used to call on your spirits. Ringing the bell will scare off lower level entities while spritzing cologne or burning incense draws in your spirits. Spirits love fragrant smells, aromatic colognes, fine incense, and essential oils. Some also like the smell of burning tobacco. It is common for a cigar to be placed on the Boveda, lit, and the smoke blown around for clearing the space.
The Bible and Selected Prayers by Alan Kardec
The Bible is considered to be a source of power. Many practitioners use passages from the Psalms as well as the Gospels to perform incantations and healings. We also practice Bibliomancy which is using scriptures as a divinational tool. The selected prayers of Alan Kardec are standard among practitioners of Espiritismo and are used privately as well as during larger ceremonies with other Espiritistas called a Misa.
It’s nice to have a vase with fresh flowers in it such as white roses or carnations. If you can not afford roses you can buy baby's breath or put out some fresh basil leaves. But the point is that you have something to honor your spirits with. Thus you will have all four of the elements represented on the altar. Earth (flowers, herbs, tobacco), Air (bell, cologne, incense), Fire (white candle), and Water (goblet of water, holy water). This is a basic Boveda set up. In the beginning of your journey that is all you need.
Candles for Spirit Guides
Your Boveda is not your Saint altar or divisional altar for your Loa. The Boveda is a shrine for your dead and spirit guides. Having image candles on the altar is ok if the spirits that walk with you ask for them such as Lucky Indian Spirit or 7 African Powers. Your Espiritista will let you know what's best. Working With Your Guides.
After you have constructed your Boveda you must use it. You must commit to sitting in front of your Boveda everyday, at the same time of day, for at least ten to fifteen minutes to be quiet and meditate. You need to do this for at least 90 days. Remember that your Boveda is a special place to commune with your spirits. You are opening yourself up for intimate contact with your ancestors and spirit guides. You will pray and meditate here to create a secure bond with your spirits. This is private time between you and your guides. Make whatever sacrifices are necessary to ensure you do not miss your special time. The Boveda should be set up in a part of your home that will not be disturbed. Wear white. Buy a package of white t-shirts and white sweat pants to wear just for the time you sit with your spirits. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Let go of any unnecessary thoughts and emotions. Stay focused on being present. Pray the Rosary using the proper Mystery for the day. As you pray the Rosary commit yourself to staying present and follow through to the very end of the prayers. Once you are done sit for a few minutes and listen. You can also say your Selected Prayers.
When you are finished with your prayers talk to your spirits. Tell them how you feel. You can tell them what you need but they already know. Ask them to protect you and guide you. Ask them for dreams. Ask them to make it clear to you what you should do next to improve the quality of your life as you draw closer to God. After you have finished talking to your spirits thank them for helping you and continuing to help you. Sit for a few minutes and listen. Then Journal about your experience.
If you can not perform anything else, pray the Rosary. Pray the Rosary everyday with your spirits and keep their glass of water fresh. Prayers to be said from Kardec's Selected Prayers are:
- Act of Contrition
- Prayer to the good spirits
- Praise to God the father
- Prayer for everyday
- Prayer for peace in the home
- Prayer for the medium
- Prayer for your guardian angel for spiritual protection
- Prayer to distance from negative spirits
After a few months of doing this daily practice you can start working on your psychic development. Do not start practicing the exercises for psychic development until you complete your 90 day period of prayer and meditation. Why? You need to be able to train your senses and perception. You must discipline your mind and body. You need to be aligned and attuned to the energy around you while working with your spirits. You need to create a strong bond between you and your spirits, one so strong nothing can come between you. You also must start learning how to sense subtle energies around you while you work at your altars. You can not do that if you are not clear. There are other things you can do though to speed this process. You can put your Yoga mat in front of your Boveda and practice with your spirits making you alter your focal point. You can study Qigong or Tai Chi and do your practice with the Boveda as your focus. Everything is energy. Everything is spirit.