Monday, September 14, 2009

The Newest Altar

My New Seminary classes ask me to do various religious observances that aren't appropriate at my Hellenic altars. So this morning, as a bit of self imposed homework, I created a new altar just for use over the next two years as I journey down the seminary path. Above is the central area of the altar, a golden (for autumn... it will change with seasons) top cloth over the red altar cloth. In the center is a water fountain that shows a parent and child, gender indeterminate, with a rotating crystal globe between them. It's a piece that I've always wanted to have out, but which does not fit with any of my current shrines or altars. Here, I am using it as a focus for the universal principle, the All, or the Big Thing No One Really Understands. I cannot think of a more fitting image of the All, than a parent and child embracing.

To the left is a small black cauldron from my Wiccan days. I am burning a small tea candle in it (large candles are impractial on this particular altar). This, for me, is a representation of the divine feminine force in the universe. To the right is a chalice on a paton or offering plate. Within the Wiccan traditions, the chalice is a feminine tool, but with its associations with Dionysos and my worship of him, it has taken on a decidedly masculine feel to it. So I am using it to represent the male and masculine in the universe.

My angel for the class is "Faith" and I pulled out the beautiful angel doll that I got for myself and my (far away) daughter. We have matching dolls, ostensibly fairies, but easily standing in for my angel here. I think she looks quite nice! Beside her is a very large amethyst chunk which I have used in healing workings in the past. While I don't do a lot of that type of healing these days, it has strong connotations of health, vigor, and comfor for me, and balances the altar well.

I'm sure anyone in the class will recognize the acorns. If you click on the image you'll get a good close-up of the acorns, showing just how connected they are. Eventually (hopefully today but more likely by the end of the week) these will be planted in a small pot, and encouraged to grow as I do, slowly perhaps, but steadily. I want to be able to focus on their growth as tied to my own, and perhaps be able to hold onto that slow, almost invisible growth when my own spirits inevitably flag.

Behind the acorns is a small box with a latch. This is the container for my worry dolls. When I find myself obesessing over something, or discover that a fear is beginning to paralyze me, I pull out a worry doll and I whisper my fears (or secrets, at times) into her ear. Then I put her in the box. She keeps the worry or fear or secret for me, until I no longer need someone else to hold it. When I'm ready to dissipate a fear or worry, I take out the doll, and put it in the sunlight and moonlight for 24 hours. For me, this has been an incredibly valuable technique for dealing with fears that sometimes seem overwhelming. Right now, all my lovely little dolls are empty, waiting for a new crop of fears and concerns to hold onto for me!

Here's a picture of the whole altar in one shot. It's right at the end of my bed, slightly to the left (as I'm sitting here doing my homework). It sits against the wall right beside the largest window in my room. As I sit in bed, it is really the focus of the room, as my Hellenic altars are off to the other side (those who want to see them can look here) in a corner. I'm pleased with how it turned out, although I'm certain that the currently stark look will soon be bursting with different items of strong meaning for me!

This month I'll be reading about Hindu beliefs. I find that I actually know a little bit already, as I am familiar with concepts of karma and have read parts of the Bahgavad Gita in the past. I also am a (not very steady) practitioner of yoga, and so for this month I will be reviving my daily yoga practices. Perhaps I'll actually stick to it after the end of the month!
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