Excellent question! Thank you for asking me.
Like in the olden days people could like sneak into the graveyard, dig up someone and get their bones. It was dangerous, they could get hung for such things, but really there wasn’t a security guard, bodies were buried in thin wooden boxes (if they got a box at all), that rotted and you could just kinda sneak in there and steal. Not gonna happen now adays, people are buried in these huge caskets that are like steel or some shit. And most people are cremated anyways…
Thats the answer right there. Most of us have a family member who was cremated. There is an urn somewhere with their ashes. You can do some necromancy and talk to grandma with her urn. When we spread my grandfather’s ashes, I even had the opportunity to keep a small portion for myself—I didn’t then, but its the kind of thing you might get the chance to do. Then you could put the ashes in a small container on your ancestor altar.
You can also just go to the graveyard. You can’t steal bones and such from there, but you can hang out in the graveyard if you behave yourself. Do not act like at total shit and vandalize anything, I am still hopping mad over the vandals who painted Laveau’s tomb pink last week. If you go to the graveyard, you can bring flowers for the gates and flowers or coins for the graveyard mother (the oldest female grave in the yard). If you want grave dirt, you can get it, for a trade. Bring some flowers to plant on the grave and you can snatch some of the excess dirt for your uses. Remember different kinds of graves for different kinds of dirt—a soldier, a baby, true lovers, etc. I am especially fond of the graves of esoteric lodge members they always have really neat symbols on their graves. Be sure to label your dirts!
An ancestor altar is a great way to get started. I like making ancestor spirit bottles per Sarah Lawless’s method. And I put them along with photos of my relatives and icons of saints and other spirits I consider important to my heritage on there. Along with a cup from my ancestor’s country that I can put offerings of water in for them.
Talk to them. You can got to your ancestors graves, or you can talk to them at the altar. Or you can even set out dinner plates for them at special occasions. Its nice to invite them ahead of time so they know to come. You can invite them whatever way makes the most sense to you, but I like to go to the graveyard and announce it, hey folks, we are having Samhain next month, you are invited to supper!
Another thing that works in my family, is teeth. Sure you might not be able to dig up bones, but some of my family members kept baby teeth and wisdom teeth and such. If you can get those from your dearly departed’s estates after they pass on, you can keep those as bones to connect with your ancestors.
I use a skull sculpture for my altar, and its worked fine as a focus. It is not the same as having an actual skull, but you can often make a skull out of a wood that is connected to the spirit you wish to work with. Like for Cain, Schulke instructs us to carve a skull out of Holly. For my friend whose ancestors are named after Hawthorn trees, a hawthorn skull makes sense. If you have a family animal in your crest, a bone from that animal can serve as an ancestral focus as well.
There are plenty of very modern ways to practice necromancy. You don’t have to lurk about at midnight in graveyards with a shovel, that is pretty much a bygone era. Thankfully too!