Week 14 – DPWotY

Week fourteen is revisiting the home shrine and documenting changes, I’ll put a photo below this and then the questions from Rev Dangler’s Through the Wheel of the Year and my responses below that. The home shrine has changed already in the weeks since we first looked at it, some changes for the better, others, well I’m not sure about them.

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Top: Altar after first joining ADF and clearing it all out and starting afresh trying to follow what I’d read so far.
Bottom: Altar as it currently looks.

There have only been a few changes really to the alter since the last visit to this topic, the first one I will address is the new doors (You can’t really see them well in the image) that are meant to keep the cats out of the altar space, the use of wire in a frame was meant so that the altar wasn’t really locked away behind doors. This has not worked as effectively as I would like and I haven’t come up with a new plan to deal with it yet. The wire and doors bothers me, it feels like I’m caging away the gods and spirits and separating them from my life. Something I’d tried to avoid by having the wire doors. The other problem is the wire itself, the cats can sneak paws in to knock things over and try and steal other items. I feel that this has been a failed attempt, somewhat disheartening.

The next big change is the addition of a representation of the Earth Mother to the altar, I discussed what other ADF members who also follow a Heathen path do with them and read a bit more about it and then reflected on what felt right for me personally. I came down on the side of adding a representation, due to budget constraints I couldn’t afford to buy any of the ones I liked and had seen so I decided to make one.img_4596

I had seen several beautifully designed ones online, hand-crafted by pagans, however the cost was beyond my budget. So I set out to design one that incorporated everything I liked about the ones I had seen and some elements of my own. She is made from air dry clay, and took about three weeks to make, I made the clay form in a few hours but due to the thickness of her I had to dry her in controlled environment so she didn’t crack or crumble. Once she was completely dry I decorated her with acrylic artists paints and sealed her with a satin-gloss varnish. I tried to visualise and work in elements that made me think of the Earth Mother during her creation, and I have to say I’m thrilled with the end result. I think she is now one of my favourite items on the altar.

One of the other new additions is a painting of a raven that I added, I’ve been feeling a pull to the Morrigan as I have progressed along the DP, which at first felt odd since I had declared myself to be a Heathen. However I decided to explore her presence in my life, since it would be rude to shun a deity that had shown an interest in me. It is a new relationship, one that is fragile and I am working on understanding better. The raven painting was one I painted and decided to put on the altar to indicate that I was willing to explore her presence further, as well as a focul point to contemplate.

I also added a drinking horn to the altar now, I found an old one from my re-enacting days and decided to re-purpose it, I cleansed it, reapplied beeswax to the interior and blessed it ready for use.

I’ve also added a stag statue to the altar, it just felt right that it be there, I found it at an antique fair recently and have since been looking into the aspects of Stags in the saga’s, mythology and symbology of the Heathen hearth culture.

I think my altar is going to undergo some considerable changes again before the end of the DP, I don’t have a solid image in my head at present of what it will look like when it is finished, only that as I grow and learn I seem to change my mind on what works for me. So this is my current version of the alter as it stands. I’m sure next time we revisit it, there will be new changes.

EDIT: Completly forgot to talk about whether I prefer working indoors or outdoors and whether nature feels accessible on my altar. I love working outdoors, I spent the majority of most days outside anyway so I get plenty of nature access, if I could have a workable outdoor ritual area I would but things aren’t working that way here despite my initial optimism when we bought the place, I do still plan to work towards having an outdoor area. However that being said I feel my indoor altar does work, I often bring items from nature in and have them on the altar for particular occassions but also just because I get an urge that I must have this thing on my altar. They stay there until the urge dies down and then go out onto the cairne in my yard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Week Seven – DPWotY

So week seven is happening, at least I’m working on week seven in between continuing to read the IE text and gather notes for the book report.

Week seven takes a first look at the home shrine(s) and what we currently have as our working shrine, the meaning behind the items chosen to use on it and the changes and plans we have for it in future. It also came with a few readings on the topic.

So the first article was ‘Placement of the Home Shrine.’ by Rev. Michael Dangler

Michael talks about how altars are ultimately a very personal item and so should be done in a way that makes you comfortable, although if you are doing the DP you probably need to be honest about your faith and have a permanent altar rather than hide it away.

It should if it can be somewhere central although that is not always practical, a bedroom or elsewhere is fine, although having an entire room locked away from the world might send the wrong message, no matter how well intentioned.

Facing direction is part of the personal choice factor, if you are used to north face north, decorations and items are likewise personal choice.

The second article was ‘Creating the Desire for Worship’ by Rev Michael Dangler

The author talks about creating the desire to do daily devotions and meditations, to help create a healthy habit and provides a few suggestions on his thoughts about how to achieve this.

The final article was ‘Taking it All Home’ by Kami Landy

This is an interesting article that would work a lot better if you lived alone or in an all pagan household. Ultimately most of this felt inapplicable for me in my situation. The only thing I might consider is the idea of a bonsai as the world tree for the shrine once I have the doors on it to protect it from the cats. This is not to say that there weren’t some great ideas, there were, ones that I would utilize if the person that shared my house wasn’t an atheist that has an alarming tendency to mess up people’s home shrines.

There were two suggested readings from books that haven’t arrived yet so I’ve had to skip those for now and continue on with week seven without them.

This brings us to the ‘Homework’ for the week. My home shrines, what they look like, what I want to change etc.

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So this is my current indoor/main shrine as it currently stands.

So I have the painting of a tree that currently works as my tree for ritual, although I would love to move to something better later I am making do with this painting I did. My thoughts for the new tree are kind of scattered at the present, I considered the idea of the stick, like many a beginner before me but it felt wrong for me. I currently am considering a bonsai oak tree but have seen some excellent carved rods that might also work.

The bronze looking bucket on the right is my well for this altar. It may not be ideal, I really don’t know but it does the trick until like the tree I find something better, I’m hoping that I will be somewhere one day and the new well will jump out at me so to speak.

The three candle holders at the front and the green lump are for the fire, the green lump is a incense holder. I’d love to have a more appropriately themed incense stick holder but this is the only one that made it to the new house.

The green plate and bowl in the back left are for offerings that are later taken out the back and put at the outdoor altar. It isn’t visible from this angle but they are carved with Norse/Celtic inspired designs.

The blue and white striped vessel in front of that is the vessel for drinks and such during ritual. I’d love to get another drinking horn to replace this viking period replica cup, which is replacing the drinking horn that was stolen from our last house.

Besides that is my Northern Shadows tarot deck for drawing omens with a squirrel sitting on top to represent Ratatosk who I’ve had on my altar since I found the Norse pantheon were ones that I felt a connection with. I found him a few months after and he came home to try and foster a better relationship with him since he is supposed to run up and down Yggdrasil carrying messages.

On the shelf at the back is an image of Odin and Frigga who are the deities I’m working on my relationships with at the moment along with a wood carving I did of Odin.

The other bits and pieces on the shelf are things that I have collected for the spirits at this house that felt ‘right’ and bought home for them.

The final feature worth mentioning is the cloth covering the altar, which is one of four to represent each of the seasons.

The large shelf above the altar is where I currently store my books and other tarot cards, along with various other bits and pieces.

An addition I am planning for the alter is to make a pair of cat-proof doors with some kind of opaque screen. It will allow the altar to remain undisturbed by them while letting the altar be visible and not fully closed away, it doesn’t seem right locking my altar, which is my main source of communication with the ancestors, gods and spirits away fully but it has become necessary to be able to keep the cats out since one of our cats is a thief and steals and hides things.

The second altar I have is an outdoor space that is a work in progress and is not able to be used all the time due to household routine.

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The beginnings of a stone cairn you can see in this photo is made of rocks that have been dug up as we have been landscaping the garden. This one started completely by accident, I put the first few rocks under this tree planning to move them somewhere else later and it felt right they were there, so I added more as I found them in the garden.

I plan to add a firebox and an altar to this setup eventually, as well as keep adding the rocks as they are dug up.

I was given a plaque with an image of Bacchus on it that will find a home here eventually too, despite the fact he isn’t a Norse god I feel that he came to me for a reason.

The final thing I plan to do for this altar is to plant some more screening plants to give it some privacy so that I can do more outdoors work undisturbed as well as clear out the weeds and maybe add a few plants that appeal to the nature spirits.

I’m sure as I progress down the DP I will change and grow my altars and the ideas for them but this is how it stands at present.