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.
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.
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.