Monday, May 11, 2009

Shrines

Dionysos Shrine, May 11th, 2009

It's just a beginning, but it felt awfully good to put up these three trellises and plant the grapes at their feet. There will eventually be a loose weaving of light branches over the tops of these wooden structures, over which I will train the grapes as they grow. The idea is to create a small area within the shade of the grape vines which will house a small piece of statuary, a small stone altar, and a waterproof container with incense, candles, and matches. It will also have a small wooden bench, eventually, so that it's possible to sit within the opening of the shrine for prayer and meditation.

I'm so excited to finally get this going. Wow, it's started! There are several shrines that I want to put up on the property, but expedience called for this one to be put up first. The grapes arrived on Saturday afternoon, and had to go into the ground. I had a vague idea about where I wanted to put this shrine, but nothing exact. Farnham and I went up in the tractor this afternoon and I found the place within a few minutes of arriving. It was immediately obvious.

I knew it was the right place - it was a small glade, off the dirt roadway but viewable from the road, and I happen to know that the spot where the shrine is happens to have a lot of sunlight during the day. When we arrived, the very spot was bathed in dappled sunlight, as if the gods were marking it out for us.

I think it took about a half hour to plant the grapes. Farnham dug the holes, but I put up the trellises, and also did the actual planting. We watered all five grape plants, to make sure they were well soaked after being put into the ground. I picked hardy stock, to weather the harsh New England climate, and I chose seeded grapes so that they would (hopefully) replicate themselves, a blessing to Dionysos with every grape seed dropped.

Around the shrine there are a zillion ferns, still quite young and tiny, and some other climbing type plants. The stream is just a skip, hop and jump away (both pretty and nice to listen to, and also close enough to make watering easy). The place where I leave my offerings to the Nymphae is also just a few strides away, which felt right to me, since it was the Nymphae who cared for the infant Dionysos. Having their place near his, or vice versa, made sense.

One of the other shrines I plan on making, is one to Hecate. In the picture to the right, you can see the two headstones for the graves on our property, behind a pile of stones. The stones are ones pulled (by hand, I might add) from our orchard, which we tilled up a couple of weeks ago. These stones will eventually become a stone wall surrounding the graves, with room on either side for the members of our family when our times come.

Mr. Timothy Parker and his wife Miss Sarah Parker were the original owners of this land, in 1812 or so. We're not sure yet exactly when they got the land, but it is our understanding that our house (built in 1812) was the first structure on this tract of land. Mr. Timothy and Miss Sarah are buried under the headstones which bear their names. Unfortunately, time and exposure have done some sad work on Mr. Timothy's headstone, but I am seeking help from the local historical society on how to fix at least some of the damage.

We'll be planting a crab apple tree just outside the stone wall, but angled so that it hangs (safely) over the graveyard itself. The stone wall will go around all four sides, and be about knee high when finished. There will be an opening on the low side of the gravesite (to the right of the above picture, btw), with no gate or other blocking. It will just be open.

Behind the graves, built into the wall itself, and made out of stones, will be my shrine to Hecate. I am going to try and make it into something like a cross between this and this. I want it to be covered over, to keep the contents reasonably dry during most of the year. Like with the Dionysos shrine, I plan on keeping a waterproof container close by, containing candles, incense, and matches.

The main difference between the Dionysos shrine and this one, is that this one will be viewable from the road. We live on a semi-major roadway in New England. While it isn't going to be all that obvious from the road, people going by will be able to see the graveyard once the wall is up (currently, most of the area is covered by overgrowth of ground cover). I need to keep the shrine for Hecate somewhat circumspect, in order to make certain it isn't vandalized. I'm not certain people in our area would do such a thing, but I know I don't want to tempt fate, either.

I also have plans for formalizing the shrine for the Nymphae, which includes several gnome statuettes I got from friends. They're not the bright colored stupid gnomes, but ones that look rather... well, almost frightening in their realism. I like them, and they disturb the heck out of everyone else in the family except the twins. *grin* The 'altar' for the Nymphae will continue to be the cut off stump right by the stream, which we've been using for almost a year now.

The last shrine that I have any real plans for, is for Artemis. There's a story behind that one, but if you want to read it, you'll have to pick up a copy of Bibliotheca Alexandrina 's 7th book, Unbound. In it, there is an article that I wrote about how we found the place where my Artemis shrine will be erected. Right now, I'm not certain at all what I'm going to do. I'm not really a devotee of Artemis. I just know that I'm supposed to do this.

I'd love to put up shrines for Pan, Zeus and Hera, Aesclepios, Nyx, and a few others, but it'll be a while. I suspect that the two main ones outlined above will take up all of my spare time over the next year or so. What I AM planning on doing this year, along with the two main shrines, is to create a temenos. I have two separate areas picked out. One is very easy to get to, but also might end up being a place we walk through a lot, which would make it unsuitable as a temenos. The other is more difficult to get to, as you have to go down a fairly steep hill, but once you're there it stretches out beautiful and flat, quite suitable to be a house of the gods. We also have a natural ampitheater in our woods, an area where there's a deep "dip" in the ground, the edges of which are lined in tierd natural stone, almost like stadium seating. At the bottom of this half circle is a wide open space with a HUGE tree in the center. I'll have to try and get pictures of it sometime soon.
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