I love altar-making because it is a concrete representation and focus for spiritual concerns. One altar has been a table with plants on it, just as anyone might have. What made this one different was that the plants’ arrangement was around a small statue of Gaia, one of the many Goddesses of Earth.
But obvious representations of deities or even human figures of any kind are not necessary for altars to be beautiful, engaging, and effective as foci for attention and meditation.
I’ve mentioned here before my ancestors’ altar. It is simply a collection of objects that belonged to my beloved Dead: A book, a portrait, and a blanket. And then some items that remind me of them: Gifts, photos, a doll.
Our family altar is a celebration of our life together and our dreams for that ongoing life. Candles, the broom friends created for our wedding ten years ago, a photo of our wedding, images that are important to us together, a jar of water from the Pacific.
How are altars different from Hummel displays?
You see, there?
You see how altars are not so different from what we already do, most of us?
Many of us have tchatschki, little knick-knacks here and there, arranged together in pleasing ways.
Altars are little different. They—altars—are just set up to focus our attention on some aspect of life, something important to us, something of which we want to remain mindful.
I do not ever want to forget the ancestors who brought me here. Not ever.
I do not ever want to forget that I am part of Earth and She is part of me. Not ever.
I do not ever want to forget or lose sight of the tremendous happiness, compassion and wisdom that come out of my family life.
And finally, I do not want to forget that my spiritual life is the ground on which the rest of my life stands. And so the altar I have written about previous has several things on it. Every one of which reminds me of something significant to my history, hope, spirituality, and relationships. It is a distillation, in some ways, of the other altars in our house.
Look tomorrow for more on this topic. I’ll be discussing the individual pieces of that altar and starting to talk about why I have them, how I change them, and what purposes they serve.
Blessings on you and on your house – Catharine