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Friday, March 5, 2010

Sanctuary


For me my altar space is my sanctuary, the place I feel most at home. I'm a visually orientated person and my altar has become a visual expression of my spirituality. It's the place where I meditate and perform my daily blessing and my spiritual workings, most importantly it is the place I go to honour Gaia and my connection to her. While I would prefer to have a small shrine outside under the cherry blossom tree in our backyard, the downside of living in the city is lack of privacy from our neighbours who have a direct view over the fence.

I have always tried to place my altar by a window so that I can open it and allow the breeze inside. I am lucky enough at the moment to have a window that faces east so the morning sun is able to shine upon it come dawn and the moon rises before it come nightfall.

My altar has had many incarnations. I started out with a small shoebox hidden under my bed as a teen, I've used a breakfast tray and a small set of nesting tables. After the round decorators table that I used literally fell apart after 9 years I decided it was time for an upgrade. I searched for what seemed like forever through every furniture store in town until I accidentally found a small business that handcrafted wooden furniture from reclaimed and recycled materials.

The most expensive items I have purchased for my altar was the Millennial Gaia statue by Oberon Zell and the small 6" statues I had commissioned but you don't have to spend a fortune to have a beautiful and meaningful space. Most of my altar items I buy from cafter's markets, op shops, dollar stores or eBay. I've been collecting odds and ends for years and I love finding a new purpose for items such as coffee jars that I wash and use to store herbs and incense or the egg cups that I have filled with the element representations. I absolutely encourage getting down and crafty with your altar. I've made statues from air dry clay and modified a music box before. I make and customise soy candles and incense for specific uses. If you don't feel very crafty you can always find something in nature to bring inside as well. A great source for altar cloths is sample size fabric from craft or fabric stores which sell for only a couple of dollars and if you don't have access to a sewing machine there is double sided iron on tape to hem the sides (which I should really get off my butt to do........one day)

I would love to have a Bonsai tree on my altar (my Grandmother was Japanese and had the most beautiful garden with a pond of Japanese carp and tables filled with Bonsai) but I'm like the worst Gaian ever, I have a black thumb when it comes to indoor plants and they never seem to be able to survive the week lol. So I've had to compromise and faux flowers it is for me.

Like many, my altar share's a duel space in our bedroom, which I actually prefer as it is the first thing I see in the morning. A couple of years ago we lived in a large house with 4 bedrooms so I was able to use one of them as my altar room but I found that I hardly ever went in there. It was at the back of the house and with a three year old at the time I just didn't have the energy to set time aside to spend extra time there. I've found that keeping my altar in the bedroom means that the energy of the altar has strengthened because I am able to tend to it daily, even for just a few short moments. Sharing a space has ment though that the area around the altar needs to be cleansed regularly and kept clean and clear, this means my husbands dirty socks will have to land on the opposite side of the room lol.

I love taking photos of my altars but I do wish I had taken some of my first altars, alas that was in the days before phone cameras. I like looking back and seeing a visual evolution of my practices and beliefs. I change the decore whenever I feel it needs a revamp but usually at the start of each season or before a sabbat comes round.


The most important thing about my altar is that it represents me. Every item is carefully thought about before I will place it on there. Everything has a purpose or a meaning.



I have a couple of videos on youtube of my altars as well.
http://www.youtube.com/user/Pyrivala