hearthstone: (Default)
I hadn't planned to write about candles for the C week; candles are not really a large part of my practice these days. But I just looked up from my chair and saw candles everywhere. We had a power outage last night and my daughter brought down ALL the candles (a group of votives on a dinner plate puts out a good amount of light, by the way). We have many. So, candles.

I have a whole little cabinet with nothing but candles. Votive candles, mostly in white, or pink for Aphrodite. Tapers in various sizes and colors (extras in gold and silver) to light my altars or during prayer. Little spell candles in all different colors (just as a FYI, if you have a bunch of candles in all different colors, DO NOT store them all together for years at a time because the dyes will transfer). Tea lights in the most colors (for Temple of the Twelve devotions, among other things).

The thing is, I really don't find myself using candles nearly as much as I used to. When I set up Aphrodite's Lantern on her altar, I chose to use an electric salt lamp, both because the light needs to be constant and because it was the least expensive option among many. Three of my shrines are enclosed, so I tend to use battery-operated candles there for any but the briefest lighting, for safety reasons. My Goddess altar has fairy lights hanging, which is a marvelous effect in a cabinet altar. I also have battery-operated pillars on two of my larger altars (cream-colored on the Greek altar, pink on Aphrodite's) that I use on occasion.

So I suppose what I am really talking about here is the significance of a candle as opposed to other types of light.

There is something about a candle that is special. The sound and smell of the match being struck, the uneven flicker of the flame, the potential for revelation based in fire and smoke and shadows cast. And the fact that a lit flame is fragile and ephemeral, easily ended either intentionally or accidentally. A candle needs some care, some watching. If all I want is to see what I am doing, any sort of light will do although some are more atmospheric than others. Using candle-light expands the possibilities.
hearthstone: (Default)
While looking over some pictures I realized I had never taken any of the current setup for my Kemetic altars. So here is one of each of them:


The above is my shrine cabinet, usable at all times (because I need that :)). The top shelf holds Heru-wer/Horus the Elder, Wesir/Osiris, Aset/Isis, Heru-sa-Aset/Horus the Younger, and Sekhmet. The middle shelf holds Yinepu/Anubis, Djehuty/Thoth, Taweret, and Bes. The bottom shelf holds Wepwawet, Hethert/Hathor, Bast, and Tefnut.


The other is my (not often used) Senut shrine, holding my lineup of Wepwawet-Yinepu, Hethert-Sekhmet, Bast and Tefnut.
hearthstone: (Default)
I am a big fan of altars, I truly am. Just click on the "altars" tag attached to this entry to see pictures of some of the altars and shrines I've had over the years.

As a visual person, I find a lot of inspiration and comfort in having these physical signs of devotion in sight; they are a frequent reminder of the role of the divine in my life. Technically I have seven altars or shrines upstairs and three downstairs, which sounds more overwhelming than it is. I use them all differently and relate to each in its own way.

For this post, though, I am going to talk about some of the practical aspects of having an altar or altars.

The finding and using of space.

Most of my altars and shrines are on top of furniture--chests of drawers and bookshelves, mostly. A couple are inside furniture that isn't being used for other things, and I have one small dedicated shrine cabinet. The main issue with this is that there are only so many surfaces in any home, and unless you live alone, some of these surfaces will be required by other people who need flat spots on which to put their keys or loose change or hairbrushes or coffee cups. There will be complaints if you try to claim too much territory, and it won't be pretty.

If you do live alone and/or have the space, you can have more dedicated pieces--I have seen pictures of tables, desks, cabinets, many pieces of furniture all being used to wonderful effect as shrines and altars. I've heard that some folks have an entire room dedicated as temple space, which would be lovely but not really doable for most of us.

A shelf hung on a wall can also be a good altar if it is in a low-traffic area. (I recommend against the wall directly beside one's bed, speaking from the personal experience of having a constant bruise on my right hip until I moved it elsewhere. :))

A plaque or wall-hanging or picture can be a shrine, depending on how you plan to use it--the hekataion at my front door is a plaque, and I say a prayer there every night. For these, you won't be able to leave offerings (or candles or incense) at the site but offerings and prayers can be made in other ways.

The finding and using of stuff.

If you looked at any of my altar pics you will note that I do, in fact, have a lot of stuff. However, I did not get it all at once; I accumulated it gradually over the decades. Some of it, I made. My Aphrodite altar is probably my oldest continuously-maintained shrine, but it is much, much fuller now than it was fifteen years ago. My Unknown Goddess shrine is my newest, but it contains a lot of things I already had on hand. Sometimes you can have a thing for years before you know why you have it.

What goes on my altars, anyway?

This really depends primarily on how I plan to use the space. I do keep a multipurpose working space; most of what is on it at any given time is whatever I am using. I don't tend to leave tools on an altar--usually I bring them out if I am going to need them, and keep them stored away otherwise. It's on the top of a chest of drawers and I keep tools and so forth in the top drawer (the rest hold clothing).

I like god-images. I really like god-images. Did I mention that I like god-images? Not everyone does, YMMV.

If it's a dedicated long-term shrine there will probably be gifts on it; Aphrodite has quite a bit of stuff, statues and jewelry, scented oil, books, stones, shells, shawls, jars, things I made for her and things I bought for her. My general Greek altar is made up of statuary but has gifts on it as well for some of the deities, likewise for my Kemetic altars. However, the "stuff" in the Kemetic altars stays there and is not used elsewhere, while the "stuff" on the Greek altar that isn't a gift (i.e. incense burners, candle holders and so forth) can be used elsewhere; gifts, of course, belong where they are and stay put regardless. (That difference is based primarily on my own UPG and sense of what's wanted.)

And just because this has been covered a lot online lately: food and drink offerings for the Kemetic gods, I consume after some time has passed; food and drink offerings for the Greek gods, I pour out.

I've always built altars visually, but my most recent one (the unknown goddess shrine) has insisted that everything that's not stuck on a wall be something I can pick up and touch. I'm not sure why that's important, but it is. I can use it in the dark or with my eyes closed. :)

An altar doesn't have to be forever.

Not only can altars change over time, they can also end. If the reason for the altar no longer stands, it is all right to (respectfully and mindfully) take it down.
hearthstone: (Default)
This shrine is located in the left-hand side cabinet of a very old buffet, most of which is used for clothing.

The first pic, I took with the flash on; it shows what's in there but it's usually a lot darker unless the lights are on:


This one is with the lights on and is a lot closer to what I see when I am in front of it:


And this is the "ceiling" with three of the four light strings on, because I just like how it looks:


hearthstone: (Default)
I finally finished the backdrop for my "senut shrine." (I drew the figures by hand with pencil and ink, scanned them, colored them and scaled them down on the computer via GIMP (allowances I made for my aging eyes :)) and had them printed on photo stock online at Deviant Art (because my actual printer isn't always reliable). It is, at present, focused on Hathor and Bast and has a handful of useful things on it, the rest are in a basket underneath.

Here's a front view:


And because the backdrop is also on the sides of the shrine box, here is a left-hand view:


and here is a right-hand view:


It has, I hope, a kind of a simple and straightforward look to it; if I sit on the floor in front of it, it is at eye level. When not in use it is curtained off (you can see a bit of the cloth in some of the pictures). Also, there are (in addition to the two statues) forty-four different gods pictured on the backdrop!
hearthstone: (Default)
I have, well, a lot of altars. I would probably like more.

My general altar, set up for general use and/or druidic ritual, has a statue to represent the nature spirits, and a book of names to (pretty directly) represent the ancestors; a bell, a candle (for fire), a clay cauldron (for the well) and a picture of the World Tree on the wall (for the tree). I also keep my stuff for my daily prayer to the Celtic and continental Germanic gods (the basket of names, book of prayers, book to record my prayers and a pen). Any other tools are in a drawer underneath. Oh, and my cards for Temple of the Twelve. And whatever else I am currently using. This is as close as I have to a working altar, and I am at it on a daily basis.

My Hellenic altar has statuary of many of the gods (Hestia, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Hades, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Aphrodite, Eros, Ares, Dionysos, Ariadne, Hekate, Persephone, Pan, Helios, Selene, Gaia, Tyche, Nike, Asklepios, Heracles, Hebe, and a framed picture of Hephaistos), electric candles for lighting, a candle to light during prayer, and a book of prayers and a calendar. Some of the statues have gifts near them, a prayer card and a necklace for Hekate, a necklace for Ariadne, a set of beads for Dionysos, several clay votives for Asklepios. The space is pretty well filled up but I could still squeeze in a thing or two if necessary. It doesn't see a lot of actual use so I suppose I should really call it a shrine. It takes up a lot of room and is always there, kind of like the gods themselves. :)

My Kemetic shrine cabinet has statuary of Wepwawet-Anubis, Hethert-Sekhmet, Bast, Tefnut and Heru-wer; I drew a backdrop including fifteen gods, and there are prayer cards by the statues of Hathor and Bast. The cabinet itself isn't big enough for much else, but I do leave offerings in it occasionally, and on top I keep a candle to light during prayer and an incense burner, and I keep a book of prayers in front of it. (My calendar and other tools I store underneath.) It's used at least a few times a week, depending on the calendar.

My other Kemetic shrine is currently "under construction" because I'm working on a backdrop for the "walls." It contains a blue lotus incense burner, candle, offering cup and plate, and a framed picture I drew of Ma'at. It's curtained off with a turquoise cotton cloth. I don't use it much, due to wanting to keep it in a specific state of purity; that may change after I put up the backdrop and perhaps meditate before the imagery, but I will probably continue to focus on the shrine cabinet.

My Vanic shrine has a statue of Frey, two statues of Freyja, a cat pendant with a bit of amber, a Freyja pendant with a bit of amber (the Borda one), and two shawls I knit for the gods (green with a leaf pattern for Frey, gold with a heart pattern for Freyja). I don't use it much and it is possible that this is a temporary space.

My Sif and Thor shrine has statues of Sif and of Thor. (It's a new shrine, not much there yet.) Again, it may be a temporary space, but I am giving it time.

I don't currently maintain a general heathen shrine or altar--I usually go outdoors for offerings and prayer to the heathen gods. It just seems like a better connection that way.

By the front door, at the base of the stairs, I keep a plaque of Hekate, and every night I say a prayer and kiss my hand to her.

My Aphrodite shrine has four statues of Aphrodite; a dedicated salt lamp I keep lit; four pink electric candles; two necklaces I made for her (including the first piece of jewelry I ever made, with pearls, garnets, rose quartz and gold beads--I made it back when gold beads weren't super-pricey); two shawls I knit for her, one of which is draped over the largest statue; a very simply hand-bound book of prayers to Aphrodite I collected early on and wrote in rose-colored ink (the cover is cream-coloredpaper with rose petals embedded in it while the inside pages have flecks of metallic gold--my first attempt at book-binding of any sort); a set of pink Olympic oracle stones I made, in a marbled pink cloth bag; a silver candle snuffer carved with roses; a shell filled with pieces of tumbled rose quartz; a glass jar of dried rose hips; a small scented candle in a jar; a pretty little Aphrodite shrine cabinet that once belonged to the lovely [profile] awakening1; a wooden tile bracelet with images of Aphrodite; two Aphrodite prayer cards; a pink domino mask with black lace and silk flowers; a reproduction of a Greek pitcher/vase with Aphrodite and Dionysos pictured; a set of cowrie shells to work the "Aphrodite's Eyes" divination; and a ceramic incense burner in the shape of a pink lotus flower. The shrine gets sporadic but active use and is very, very important to have.

You'll notice that one of those paragraphs is a bit longer than the rest. One altar is more crowded than the others. There are more things on it.The Aphrodite shrine has, of course, been in progress for nearly 15 years, and since it's dedicated to a single deity there is more room on it for stuff. There is more of a "hum" about it, at least to me. Every so often I see something and think "ah, I should get that for Aphrodite!" Every so often I think of something to put on the shrine and go get it. If I learn a new crafting skill, I want to make her something. In the sense of change I'd say the Aphrodite shrine is the busiest of my shrines and altars (although in terms of use that would be the Kemetic shrine cabinet because so much of what I do in that context is shrine-focused, while the Indo-European types never really seem to take up residence like that and are happy with outdoor offerings).

I have on occasion considered establishing other single-god shrines but they never "took." (This is probably not a bad thing, a house has only so many surfaces, and other household members tend to object when there's nowhere to put their stuff.) There are other deities I pray to on a daily basis, other gods I feel close to, to the point that I want to do more for them. None of these have become permanent shrines. And that's all right, I think. Sometimes a dedicated space is there for a temporary reason. Sometimes it's all right to set up a shrine and see what happens--maybe an established shrine isn't the best way to connect with a particular deity or deities. You don't know until you try, and if it's not meant to be, you'll know it, and I don't think the gods object to a little trial-and-error when the goal is finding a way to reach them.
hearthstone: (Default)
I love my altars, and I love them to be pretty with shinies (or is that shiny with pretties?). A dedicated shrine like mine to Aphrodite eventually is covered with gifts and fancies; a group shrine tends to be less stuff-packed but then there are more god-images to take up the space.

What I am saying, really, is that when I became a pagan I really embraced the whole graven images thing!

But sometimes it is hard to find the right graven image. Sometimes, no matter how lovely an image is, or how much it seems to represent deity, it just doesn't work as an altar piece.

I first had this happen a few years back when we got the Odin from Oberon Zell's Mythic Images collection; I don't think it is in production anymore, which is a shame because it is a stunning piece and I love it. But it just didn't work on the altar. It's now what I call "just art," which I hope no one will find hurtful because I don't mean it that way--what I mean is that it stands on its own as a beautiful object but, somehow, on my altar, it never "got Odinny" if you know what I mean. (I thought for a while that this was because it was a full-color piece and most of my statuary is in only one color, that maybe that made me see it as primarily decorative rather than devotional, but I have other full-color statues that have been excellent devotional pieces.) So it's on display, because I love it, but it's not on an altar. It's "just art."

I do think it also depends on the deity in question. I have used several (okay, five) different images of Aphrodite over the years and they have all worked. I have also used four different images of Hekate (not counting the one by the front door) and all have "felt" right. So I think that some gods are more likely to, well, put a candle in the window, whether because of an existing relationship or because they just tend to do that. (Dionysos, for example, is famously present and accessible. :))

I'm not really sure what it is that makes one piece "work" while another does not. It's like...some pieces are like houses, while others are kind of like houses but don't have doors or windows. I'm not really sure what I think about the role of god-images; for a long time I just kind of figured they were a point of focus but the longer I spend at this, the more I think there is something else going on there, that while certainly they are a focus they can also sometimes be a conduit--or, perhaps, a "house." :)

Shrine pic

Dec. 7th, 2012 04:42 pm
hearthstone: (Default)
Just to show off, this is my Kemetic shrine cabinet (non-Senut), complete with adjustable glass shelves (that I put in by myself last night!

Kemetic Shrine
hearthstone: (frigga)
I want to add a representation of the Asynjur to my altar. Specifically to Frigga's handmaidens, because Frigga herself, and Freyja, are already represented there. I haven't decided what form it should take, though--I thought of something for the wall but the wall over the altar is already filled with god images. And there's not all that much room left on the altar that I could fit something that would, really, have to be kind of big in order for all twelve goddesses to be apparent to the eye. (I'm fairly visually-oriented, which I suppose is why I like images in the first place.)

It's an odd time of year for me to be turning so much inward, but I feel like I need to focus on home and the concrete more than I have been.


Oct. 12th, 2005 02:04 pm
hearthstone: (Default)
Projects for today:
Continue taking notes on runecasting methods.
Work on the heathen altar.
(Later on.) Piece Seven Sisters blocks while watching Criminal Intent.

I am making chicken soup with wild rice today; I'm not sure what I'm going to do to make it--right now I've just got the chicken cooking--but I'm sure I'll come up with something. Probably including brown rice as well. I looked at a few recipes for inspiration, from one of those sites where folks just submit recipes, and I'm wondering whether these people actually make the recipe in question before they send it in there, because I'm pretty sure that if you make a soup base, add two cups of wild rice, and cook for ten minutes you are not going to end up with something delicious, you're going to end up with quills in your tongue. (My guess, they meant instant wild rice. People who use non-standard variants of ingredients in their recipe need to specify.)

Oh, and I did take that "How Difficult Was Your Childhood?" meme that's been going around. Then the browser crashed (often does at that site) so I don't have the code. But it came up with either "Extremely Easy" or "Very Easy." Which is cool. Hey, as a mom that's one of my goals, that my own kids have an "Extremely Easy" childhood. :)
hearthstone: (Default)
I finally got around to ordering the statues of Frey and Tyr from Sacred Source, and they arrived today, and they're really quite nice! I don't know that I'll want to put anything else on the altar although I'd certainly like another couple of representations. Of course since I'd have to make them myself that's probably a moot point; on the other hand, the Frey and Tyr are a bit primitive but still gorgeous so perhaps I would have a chance of doing so. I've got a couple of boxes of air-dry clay in the other room...
hearthstone: (Default)
Dan put up my altar to Dionysos today--it's still empty, but looks good anyway. I'm so pleased to have it up!

I've been planning to make a mask to use as an image, papier mache and paint and so forth. At least, that's the plan. I'm not sure I have the skill to do a good job, never having made one before, but I'm looking forward to giving it a shot.

We do, actually, have a mask that I could use. Dan reminded me of it today. We got it a few years back when we went to Convocation, and it certainly has a Dionysian look to it. But I'm not sure if I want to use it or not.

In any case, I'm going to try to do my own.


Nov. 8th, 2004 12:05 am
hearthstone: (Default)
Yes, I have to get working on that altar cloth. Making outdoor libations in the blowing snow is not something I want to make a habit of. :)


Mar. 19th, 2004 11:07 pm
hearthstone: (Default)
I've made a chocolate cheesecake, prepared two pans of stuffed shells to bake tomorrow, and have absolutely no memory of hurting my ankle but apparently I did. I guess that's as ready as I'm getting tonight :).

I finished knitting the cloth for Aphrodite's altar a few days ago and can't decide what to start on next; I've got yarn for a few possibilities but I'm not sure which I want to spend the next few weeks on. I'm about six inches into one for our heathen altar (but it's brown, and while it will look nice when it's done I can't stand looking at it while I'm working on it for too long :)). Also I have retained the quilters' tendency to have more than one project in the works at all times. I really should make one for my general Hellenic altar, but it needs to be about twice the size of the others I've made, which is holding me back a bit. Anyway, simple is good. I'm fond of seed stitch but I'm looking into some other small and subtle patterns. I'll see what looks good to me on Sunday (the next time I'll have time to sit and think).


Mar. 4th, 2004 12:06 am
hearthstone: (Default)
I finished the green altar cloth for our heathen altar today, of course I immediately had to go put it on, rearrange a bit, dust of course. It looks much better. Inspires me to start another one, soon :).
hearthstone: (Default)
A box of fireplace matches. A box of boxes, actually. Now I can do my devotions without burning my fingertips--without having to keep an eye on the match, how close is the flame, can I get another candle lit before it burns me.. I can even add more candles now if I like. Yay!

(Sometimes I am so easy to make happy that it's almost pathetic, LOL!)
Page generated Sep. 20th, 2017 01:00 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios