Altar Of Reflection, Shrine Of Two Worlds

She Who Hides From The World

Today is my birthday, and despite the persistent rumbling of gratitude, I still feel a little uprooted. Maybe it’s my lactose intolerant belly protesting my midnight snack – a pint of disgusting red velvet ice cream. Or maybe it’s unavoidable realization that today I turn 29, which means I only have one year left until it’s no longer charming that I’m so damn self-indulgent. Either way, I skipped work today (easy when you’re your own boss) and have thus far spent the day reflecting on why I am the way I am, and what I need to change to get where I want to go.

What does this have to do with Druidic shrines, you’re wondering? Have patience, I’m getting there…

Every morning I do a little yoga then sit on my deck and meditate, no matter the weather. My deck is my place of work during the summer, an overflowing potted garden of herbs and flowers; during the winter it is a place for reflection. My deck is as close to nature as a 3rd story apartment gets. Also, there’s this spectacular view:

 

My Wild North.

My Wild North.

 

This morning, sitting in the lotus position, with the cool April breeze blowing in of the Pacific Ocean and the call of robins and chickadees drowning out the distant city noises, I decided it was time make my portable outdoor shrine a permanent fixture in my home. So this is what I did today, home alone on my birthday, and figured it was the perfect time to write my first official essay for my ADF Dedicant Program.

 

ADF ESSAY – THE HOME SHRINE

Two Shrines, Two Paths

I’ve been reading a lot about liminality in Druidry, and so the symbolism behind my love of the doorway wasn’t lost on me. It’s just a sliding glass door, but it’s my window to the Wild North – the endless, untouched wilderness that spans all the way to the Arctic. This is my land, the land that called to me and woke me up.

My first shrine (or altar, really) has been built around an antique dresser from 18th century England. It’s made of rosewood and walnut, and the only reason it came into my possession was because the monetary value was lost with some irreparable damage. The damage doesn’t matter to me; dents and scratches only add character.

 

Indoor altar. Forgive the bad quality, taken with my iphone.

Indoor altar. Forgive the bad quality, taken with my iPhone.

 

I don’t often do much work on this alter, it’s mostly a sacred resting spot for my tools and blessed objects. It has two drawers which store candles, incense, cloth, and excess ritual supplies. It sits next to my magickal bookshelf, which has more sacred items and pagan-related books. I do use this altar for prayers and blessings that don’t require a full ritual; lighting a candle for a friend or the daily burning of incense. I don’t have any plans to change how I use this altar, as I feel the flow of energy from it is perfectly in sync with my own; it has an important function in my home and the spirits and energies that surround it seem very content.

My second shrine is outside on my deck, and it’s brand new at the time of writing this essay. It’s undercover and, with the exception of some wind and late-day summer sun, it’s untouched by the elements.

 

My outdoor shrine, facing east, with the mountains to the north. I've surrounded my shrine with plants sacred to me so when meditating/performing a ritual, their energy can intermingle with my own.

My outdoor shrine, facing east, with the mountains to the north. I’ve surrounded my shrine with plants sacred to me so when meditating/performing a ritual their energy can intermingle with my own.

 

Last summer I bought a wood altar from DragonOak, and until today it has been sitting below my indoor altar waiting for the spring. Today I moved it outside. It sits on a handwoven carpet from Tibet, brought to Canada by a friend of my father’s in the 70’s. To the left is my holly tree. I have such a deep love of holly trees, and this little fellow has been living with me since he was a wee sapling. I have a small cast iron cauldron to use for incense and any other burning offerings. I have a green marble mortar and pestle (gifted to me by my husband) for ritual herbal work. I have a bowl of pine cones and chestnuts, given to me by nature spirits. I have a bundle of sage for smudging, candles, and incense. In the center of the shrine is a copper vase which I plan to build my tree in.

 

My outdoor shrine.

My outdoor shrine.

 

Cast iron cauldron - my fire pot. Pictured with smoldering cedar incense.

Cast iron cauldron – my fire pot. Pictured with smoldering cedar incense.

 

Green marble mortar and pestle for ritual herbalism.

Green marble mortar and pestle for ritual herbalism.

 

Pine cones and chestnuts; a collection of gifts from forest spirits.

Pine cones and chestnuts; a collection of gifts from forest spirits.

 

Copper vase. My plan is to collect branches from my favourite trees (with their permission of course) and build my own tree.

Copper vase. My plan is to collect branches from my favourite trees (with their permission of course) and build my own tree.

 

Finally, for my well, I’ve purchased an earthenware cauldron from a pagan artist. It’s glazed in two-tone blues. Once this arrives it will sit over the sign of the triple moon and serve dually as my well and cup. I know the triple moons aren’t often used in Druidry, but as my practices are a culmination of witchcraft and Druidry, it has important meaning to me.

 

When meditating, I often repeat this saying to myself with my breath to enter a trance. It resonates in me like nothing else.

When meditating, I often repeat this saying to myself with my breath to enter a trance. It resonates in me like nothing else.

 

I also have two offering bowls that aren’t pictured, as they were in use when I was taking the photos and otherwise indisposed. One is black, one is white, and they are made of marble.

As far as plans for the future go, I’d like to remove the text on the back of my altar (in theban) as it doesn’t feel right to me; I’d much rather have this saying in Ogham. It means “The creation of a thousand forests lie in a single acorn.” I would, of course, have to meditate on this change before I proceed as I don’t want to anger any spirits that may prefer it in theban.

So there you have it, two altars reflecting two paths. My hope is that over time the symbolism and my practices become less fractured, that I don’t feel like I’m making choices between two different worlds but rather find a way to straddle the middle.

 

 

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