Ancestral spirits who protect the home and hearth, all cultures seem to have them in one form or another… but the word “Lares” just seems to roll off the tongue and feels good. The dead often self-bind themselves to our physical world, delaying their journey on the Low Road, and the living relatives that they leave behind are often the reason. Love, duty, honor… they are all strong concepts that carry over. As long as we give them reasons to tarry, and a sense of purpose, those spirits will remain with us to watch, protect, and comfort. Small devotional altars, or shrines, are recommended. Pictures or mementos of our ancestors, things that were important to them should be placed there. Offerings of incense, food, and other comforts should be made on a regular basis to let them know we think of them and appreciate their sacrifices and attention. If you have a hearth or fireplace, that location would be ideal, and failing that a kitchen, as they are areas intimately tied to the family structure, places where family members come together to prepare food, eat, and ward away the darkness and cold of the winter months.
Shrines are always very personal creations, and there is no right or wrong way to build one. No exact measurements. No specific items to be placed on them. I always love seeing pictures and reading about other people’s shrines. Look around for inspiration, particularly in those cultures that have been practicing this art for ages… there are many.