On the matter of what to offer the Ancestor or Deities, we have the choice of Water, Wine and "Hard" Liquor. The choice of liquid depends on the nature of the libation and prayer and what your aim is in invoking (awakening) the Ancestors. As has been my own experience:
Water is for cooling and healing and creating or reconciling relationships.
Liquor is fiery and is usually used to rouse, cement, ignite, protect and peform strong purfication.
Wine is mid-way between the two and is good for friendly relations, creating comradry between man and spirit.
This is an important matter as many of us do not realize that when you pour libation you are AWAKENING the Ancestors. The libation is only the 1st part of the process. After awakening the Ancestors, we have to actually DO something, DISCUSSS something or WORK a ritual. Libation is not complete without at bare minimum THANKING the Ancestors or REQUESTING something like support, stability, clarity, spiritual cleansing or protection etc.
Ideally, once you have poured libation you should be TALKING to the Ancestors like you talk to any other living person. You should conversate and build the relationship. Over time, you will hear messages in distinct ways. Sometimes several people will hear the message or hear parts of the message that then can be pieced together to make one complete communication from the Ancestors.
If you are pouring libation prior to a public event, you ask for BLESSINGS for that event or those in attendance.
The important part to remember again, is that libation in and of itself is not enough. You craft your libation prayer (in the diaspora people still dont understand that the best prayers have been empowered or handed down directly from specific Egungun or Orisa, so they are still most comfortable writing their own libation prayers) then you craft the conversation that EXPLAINS WHY YOU INVOKED the Ancestors on this occasion.
After doing these two things you close with Ase (which is a spiritual command/declaration of sorts of "Let it be so/Let it be done") and you GIVE THANKS PRIOR to seeing the fruits of your efforts. That is, you assume with confidence that provided you have not be unethical or lazy or cutting corners in your life that whatever you have asked for will come or Spirit will tell you what is it that you really need in place of that request.
Young people do not normally pour libation in the presence of Elders unless their youthful energy is identified as a necessity for that paricular ritual or cermony. Libation is done by community elders or the oldest member of the family. It can also be done by clergy of all ages, provided the eldest clergy present sanction and approve of the person identified. (This may sound familiar. In some churchs young people ask publicly for the right to speak or preach, even when their presence has already been planned, to guarantee that the eldest among them will be supporting their efforts and firming up the spiritual energy present.)
The person officiating Libation must possess the spiritual FORCE to open the way to Spiritual communication. We go with the safest route during this occasion and choose to allow those that are older, trained or more versed than us conduct such affairs.
Libation is a powerful spiritual science. Learn the steps well!
I guess I will share one other matter. Not all forms of libation are poured. Sometimes libations are shared with the addition of personal Ase, which is done by SPEWING the liquid from one's mouth onto the Earth or Deity or Ancestor Shrine. This carries much strength, but is not done carelessly. (if you don't know when to do it, ask a traditionalist for assistance.)
In contemporary times people do not always have a consecrated shrine or the actual Earth beneath them to pour libation. They wonder how to conduct the process properly in these situations without making a mess, especially when they do not own the space in which they are conducting their event.
You can pour libation on
- the ground
- on to a shrine
- on the ground in front of a shrine
- at the doorstep to a building
- on to a living plant
- into a receptable which on the floor symbolizing the ground
- on the street in front a venue
there may be other ways, but these are safe bets. More Photoshttp://www.wku.edu/~johnston.njoku/arochukwu/ututu/eight/20_020_21.jpghttp://ocean.otr.usm.edu/~aloung/images/libate.jpghttp://www.igbofocus.co.uk/assets/images/Libation.jpghttp://www.africanartville.org/africanartville/Chapters/SierraLeone/AuntyKunley_Small.jpg