There's always talk at this time of year about "the veil between the worlds" and how it's now at it's thinnest. Eh... sure, but it ebbs and flows. It's never static. It's also just as thin at this time in April/May, but at that point most Pagans are thinking about fertility. Truth is, you can reach across "the veil" at any point during the year. It might be easier during April and October, but it's never that hard the rest of the year, you just need to know how to get (and stay) in touch. Here are a few tips and trick. Nothing earth shattering, but add them all together and you have the start of an Ancestor practice:
This is your base of communication, especially when starting out. Once your practice is in full swing you'll find you don't need to be at your altar to get in touch with your ancestors.
This should be on the west side of your abode (house apartment, room, etc) and include pictures and tokens of your family members who have passed and things they liked. The best offerings are the little things. Grandma liked gardenias? Leave one on the altar, or burn a gardenia scented candle. Don't forget to add family patrons to the altar. Grandpa had an affinity for Saint Anthony? It won't hurt you to put his prayer card on the altar too.
I like to keep water on my altar as a means of communication. I've blogged about this previously- it's an offering of willingness to keep in touch, especially through dreams.
Commit to a time frame of offerings: Every night from new to full moon, or once a week for 9 weeks, or once a day for 9 days, or during a certain moon phase, etc. And stick to it!
This cannot be overrated. Meditation isn't only about tuning into the neutral channel. You can have a directed, focused meditation: Contemplate your literal blood and how far back it reaches. Focus on a specific family member you would like to communicate with and recall every detail you knew about them. Alternately, you can set an intention to contact an ancestor you don't know, as in the case of adoption, and once you do reach the neutral channel in your meditation, have that person fill the proverbial airwaves. This isn't the kind of thing you do when you first begin a meditation practice, it's 202 not 101. For the 101 crowd, meditate on your ancestors before you go to sleep, especially as you are falling asleep. I recommend this only be done with those you knew in life who were loyal to you and loved you. No inviting strangers into your dream world!
I have a wonderful Ancestral Temple Journey I will be teaching and recording. Here is another 202: If you have an astral temple, an astral workspace, a dreamscape you return to: Build a place for your ancestors. This is a wonderful way to reach them outside of dreaming and reinforces the intent of contact and communication.
Tarot especially is a wonderful way to communicate with your ancestors. When in sacred space, you can ask ancestors to join you and interview them. Pendulums also work for this purpose.
And don't forget offerings to cthonic deities like... you guessed it! Mercury and Hecate! Mercury is a psychopomp and opener of the ways and deity of communication. Why not call on Him in this work? Yeah, I'm biased, and spreading the love. Whichever pantheon you work with, don't forget to include appropriate prayers and generally building a relationship with those deities which facilitate communication with ancestors. They can be wonderful allies on this type of journey.