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Posts Tagged ‘FuckYeahAltars’

Expanding Altars and Changing Shrines

November 21, 2013 4 comments

These pictures were taken back in 2012 when I moved back home.  This was prior to my son and Sylverleaf coming to stay with us.  At the time I lived in the basement, as the entire living arrangement had been changed since I moved out.  I finally had a bit more room to make altars and shrines, and much of my parents’ resistance to such things in their home was gone.  They recognized my need for space to set out devotional space for worship, and I will always be grateful to them for this.

I made an altar to the Gods, a shrine to the Ancestors, a shrine to the Earthvaettir combined with the Moneyvaettir and Warrior Dead, and a shrine to the Animal Spirits.

The Gods’ Altar

At this point in time my Gods’ Altar was still fairly squished, at least compared to how it is now.  It is also a lot more simple; the Gods’ Altar as it is now has a lot more statuary and representations on it, whereas this was me trying to get back to some simplicity.  For example, the Chaos Star got packed away, as at the time I felt I’d had more than what I had needed of that.  The drum I made my journeys with was placed on the Gods’ Altar as I did a lot of journeywork to Their Realms at this point in time with Its help.  There are two chalices on the altar here: the pewter one I dedicated to Freya as our relationship was going very well, and She was teaching me a lot at this time.  That, and the chalice, which, if memory serves I had picked up at a thrift store, had at one point been given to someone as a Valentine’s gift back in 1985.  I found not long after I started using this that anything placed in the chalice would degrade and mold quick, despite repeated cleanings.  It has since been retired from service to any Gods since I can’t get it stop doing weird stuff to the contents within a few hours of being in the thing.

There’s also more prominence to the Valkyries’ representations here, with Brynhilde being directly behind Odin, and another to Her right.  The blue vial to the left of the pewter chalice long contained the last of a Dansk Mjød Viking Blod that I eventually ended up offering that year.  The crystal in front of the altar is selenite, a crystal I and my family still use to cleanse ourselves before some evening prayers.  The Negative Confession is on this altar in front of the vial and pewter mug.

The Gods' Altar 2012.

The Gods’ Altar 2012.

The left side of the Gods' Altar.

The left side of the Gods’ Altar.

The right side of the Gods' Altar.

The right side of the Gods’ Altar.

A closeup of Anpu, Mani, and Sunna on the Gods' Altar.

A closeup of Anpu (center), Mani, and Sunna (left) on the Gods’ Altar.

A closeup of Odin with Sigurd and Brynhilde behind Him on the Gods' Altar.

A closeup of Odin with Sigurd and Brynhilde behind Him on the Gods’ Altar.

A closeup of Freya, Brighid and Bres, Freyr, and Jord/Nerthus' representation on the Gods' Altar.

A closeup of Freya (center), Brighid and Bres (left), Freyr (front center), and Jord/Nerthus’ representation (right) on the Gods’ Altar.

Left to right: Brighid and Bres, Freyr, Jord/Nerthus, Sunna, and Mani, closeup up before the statues of Odin and Freya.

Left to right: Brighid and Bres, Freyr, Jord/Nerthus’s representation, Sunna, and Mani, closeup up before the statues of Odin and Freya.

The Ancestor Altar/Shrine

The Ancestor Altar/Shrine had finally come into being.  I had not been able to have a separate shrine for Them due to space issues, so being able to give space to the Elements as part of the Ancestors was wonderful as well as connective for me.  With this came a sense of connecting not only with Them individually as Elements and Ancestors, but in the space of the altar/shrine itself, each Element having Their own space in the way it is laid out.  This time also marked, roughly, when my Ancestors started asking for semi-regular tobacco offerings.  I started doing smoking offerings in 2009, 2010.  I had long held a taboo in my mind because of my parents’ smoking habits.  The deal I made with Them was that, so long as I was not going to become addicted I would smoke for Them.  So, cigars and cigarettes became part of the Fire area of the Ancestor shrine at this point, but that ended when Sylverleaf, our son, and I, transitioned as a family into the whole of the top floor of the house.

A long shot of the center of the Ancestor Altar/Shrine.

A long shot of the center of the Ancestor Altar/Shrine.

The center of the Ancestor Altar/Shrine.

The center of the Ancestor Altar/Shrine.

Left side of the Ancestor Altar/Shrine.

Left side of the Ancestor Altar/Shrine.  Leftmost is the Fire area, and next to it, the Water area.

Right side of the Ancestor Altar/Shrine.

Right side of the Ancestor Altar/Shrine.  The Earth, represented by the bowl of stones, and Air, with the incense holder, are here.

The Earthvaettir, Moneyvaettir, and Warrior Dead Shrines

This was the second shrine I had set up for the Earthvaettir and Moneyvaettir; Their previous places had been set into a bookcase on a whole shelf.  I do not believe the Warrior Dead had a shrine before this, and if it had, it had been rather squished in between everything with the Earthvaettir and Moneyvaettir.  Here, again, I felt a sense of being able to breathe, of expanding not only my physical limits, but practice.  Of having space to actually physically acknowledge Their place in my life, Their Presences, and to honor that not only with space, but with prayer in that space.  Of giving offerings to those beings, whereas once They may have been lumped all in together with a single offering chalice between all of these great, diverse Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir otherwise, now I had space and ability to honor each closer to Their own ways and desires.

The Earthvaettir, Moneyvaettir, and Warrior Dead shrines all on one surface.

The Earthvaettir, Moneyvaettir, and Warrior Dead shrines all on one surface.

The Animal Spirits’ Shrine

It was relieving to finally have space to do this.  I honor a great deal of animalvaettir not only as representations of the Gods (i.e. the snake as Bolverk), but as the animals Themselves who have come and shared wisdom and training.  Some of these representations pull double-duty; for instance, the wolf in the top above the center of the shrine is representative of both wolves, and Lupa, the Wolf Goddess who came to me early in my journey as a Pagan and in my self-discovery, helped me to realize a lot about myself.  More, She helped teach me how to not only explore it, but integrate it into my life as best as I could.  As the Wolf has been a central figure in my life as a whole, and as I mark It as kin, it forms the center of this shrine.  The patch of fur and wolf bones were gifts by the wonderful Shin Cynikos.  I keep these as sacred items to this day.  They still lay upon the animal spirits’ shrine.

The Animal Spirits Altar in 2012.  It sat on an old steamer trunk a friend gave me.

The Animal Spirits Altar in 2012. It lay on an old steamer trunk a friend gave to me.

It wasn’t long before I transitioned out of this kind of layout.  When I moved back into my old room upstairs to live with my family, there was a lot more room to expand, and express the changing relationships and growth in our lives together.  The next post will go into the expansion that occurred at that time, and what the altars and shrines tend to look like nowadays.

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Altars and Shrines Change

November 21, 2013 1 comment

The next few posts I will be going over how altars and shrines can change over time.  My hope is that this will give people different ideas of how altars and shrines can be made, what can go on them, and help people see a different way of doing things.

When I lived in the dorms this is what my altar/shrine looked like.  Everything was together onto this little dresser.  The only other flat surface I had needed to keep my desktop PC and studying desk.  So, my Gods, Ancestors, and spirits all shared space on this tiny little thing.  I wasn’t supposed to light the candles or use the censer in the back.  There was a single offering chalice for all the varied Gods, Ancestors, and spirits present, and when liquid offerings needed to be poured out I either did so in the sink, or took it out to the trees near to the dorm rooms.

Starting on the left was my tarot and my athame/working dagger, and behind them the mead I gave for offerings.  In the back, to the right of the mead, was water I had collected from a lake, and a Chaos Star I had won in a raffle to the right of that.  The box beneath the censer contained things like prayer beads, as did  the box behind A Book of Pagan Prayer.  To the right of the chalice was my representation of the Ancestors (it still serves that purpose) and of course, Odin with representations of Geri and Freki.  The little pouch before the Ancestors to the left of the Wolves was given to me as Gebo for help I gave to someone. Thor’s Hammer, Mjolnir, sat resting before Odin’s feet.  In front of the Wolves to the left is Brighid’s Candle, and to the right is Her Cross.  In between the wands and Wolves were two sigils to the angel Haniel, who I asked to help me in my relationship at the time.  The silver skulls were what I used as representation of the Dead and as prayer beads (if memory serves) to that purpose.  In front of the Dead representation are wands, while the ceramic container was used to hold herb offerings.  To the right of the skulls was an offering of an apple, which, after a day or three, was taken outside and put under a tree.

The altar/shrine was near the door to the dorm room, and since I didn’t want to get brained every time I came home, the staves were set on the left of the altar.  A lot of this altar was put together the way it was out of necessity.  It taught me to use space effectively, and making sure I knew what was essential to me, both in terms of representation, and what I was worshiping and working with.

My Altar/Shrine in my dorm room back in 2010

My Altar/Shrine in my dorm room back in 2010.

A side shot of my Altar/Shrine in my dorm room back in 2010

A side shot of my Altar/Shrine in my dorm room back in 2010.

Raise the Shrines

July 1, 2013 2 comments

Shrines do not need to just be erected on tables.  They can be erected wherever they are needed.  The last 3 years I have been a Sacred Fire tender at Michigan Paganfest.  During that time I have set up shrines to the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits behind my tent.  This year I finally took pictures but only after I moved my various representations in front of the Sacred Fire.  Something about being behind the tent made it like an invasion of privacy to take pictures there.  The set up, however, is very similar to the pictures, except spread out onto two black t-shirts; they were clean, and used for the weekend for the sole purpose as altar/shrine ‘cloths’.  Practicality wins out, sometimes, since all of my altar/shrine cloths were taken up by altars and shrines at my home.

Sacred Fire Pic 1Sacred Fire Pic 2

These first two are before the Sacred Fire together.  On either side of Odin and Freya are the representations of Ask and Embla.  Directly beside Odin the key represents Frigga, as I have no statue of Her yet, and beside Freya the little Green Man is our representation of Freyr.  The two little circles, (harder to see in the light, sorry) near to Freyr are a Sun and Moon representing Mani and Sunna.  After asking the Fire for Her permission and blessing, I placed my divination tools closest to Her for Her to bless and empower Them.  They all were located in the North.  The East was completely clear, and the South had Brighid’s Cross and a vial of Her healing waters on a single log, which I forgot to take a picture of.

Sacred Fire Pic 3

Anubis wanted to be elevated, facing the Fire in the West with the selenite wand we use at home to purify ourselves before prayer as a way of purifying the wandering Dead who wanted to be near the Fire.

Sacred Fire Pic 4

I love altars, shrines, and sacred spaces of all kinds.  Tumblr has a pretty cool community called FuckYeahAltars that has some really beautiful expressions of devotions, from the very minimalistic to the very elaborate.  It, and communities like it, are powerful reminders that our shrines do not need to be a certain way; they can fit with, complimenting and enhancing our home, fitting into the little niches and spaces.  We can erect our shrines outdoors as well, turning a piece of backwoods into a shrine to landvaettir, or to a woodland God or Goddess.  A pile of rocks becomes a cairn or a herm.  The limits are our Gods’, Ancestors’, and spirits desires’, our traditions and taboos.  Barring those things, our own imaginations are the limit.

What I hope to do with this post is encourage people to share their own shrines, should their Gods, Ancestors, spirits and/or traditions approve.  To show the multiplicity of forms that altars, shrines, and other sacred spaces can take.  I know in exploring FYA’s many examples I have been inspired in my own space creation.  In looking at others’ there is no one way of constructing a shrine.  They are unique to our relationships with the Gods, Ancestors, and spirits that we worship, our traditions, our individual relationships with each, each Being’s desires, and so many other factors I could not hope to list them all.  Suffice it to say, our shrines are part of our relationships, experiences, and points of contact with these Holy Powers that share in our lives.

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