The Altaring Needs
An altar is where we commune with the past, present and future – in the timeless now.
The altar acts as a lightning rod attracting the ancestors and the spirit world “all our relations” into a sacred space we have built with mindfulness.
It is a place for offerings, honoring, thanks and prayer. We approach with respect to the mystery and its infinite dynamics. A commitment to a spiritual life brings many initiations and winds of change that can be very challenging. Ones spiritual journey deepens into the souls needs and ancestral lineage. It digs up buried depths of potential and unconscious worldly or ancestral patterns. Our shadows are brought to light, for fight or flight, or healing integration. Being spiritual means being in service this is a paradox for many, with much of the western mindset of quick gain, quick mastery and self promotion.
Objects placed in and around the altar are related in some way to the earth, our ancestors and spirit world with its helpers..
The elements of wood, air/wind, water, fire, earth and metal with their many literal and symbolic forms – are great energetic ambassadors to host in ones sacred space. The elements are used around the world by indigenous peoples in their spiritual/healing work. Plants and animals too are used – literally as in bone, feather, fur, claw, or in symbolic form. The elements always interact with each other in nature, and they are the organic foundational basis of life. All living energetic forms are in interdependent relationship to us in some degree or another. We all come from the same source We are related..
What is put into the alter with sincerity, integrity, consistency – is what we get back in return.
The altars presence brings mindfulness of the bigger picture.
It is a place for ritual. To clear ourselves, to meditate and journey.
It’s good that we are fully present and sincere when we talk and pray out loud at the altar. That we give our full visceral expression to the otherworld. Spoken memorized prayer and in the moment dialogue are equally good. It is enough some days just to give a quiet acknowledgement.
The altar is a bridge to the otherworld. The more you infuse it with your energy, with prayer, offerings, ritual and mindfulness the more the otherworld crosses over. One builds relationship this way. Ones expectations can get in the way – quiet, authentic, integral practice comes with its own rewards. It is inner-work and inner reward. Confidence of belief is a vital bridge builder. Build a true living altar, alive with ones giving energy, and the spirit world will come and inhabit your space. Relationship is everything and it is the same in the spirit world, students of life, we apprentice and slowly gather experience that is meant to be turned into wisdom. When the inner alchemy starts it’s reshaping – so will the outer life reshape. All realities are inside us as much as they are outside us. Many get caught up in the phenomena that only inflates the spiritual ego and this is a trap. In the end, the holy clown and coyote trickster will have its day.
What facets of life do we love most in the temporal secular as well as the spiritual? These are the elements placed in the altar. Ones passion is what one feels a deeper connection to. That’s where we start, no matter how small it may seem, it is the thread to follow until bigger things arrive. The natural world is our home and thus it implies we respect our own nest, it’s where we gather our sustenance so taking from nature daily demands responsible mindfulness. The animate natural world is conscious ancient wisdom, our respect should be second nature. Taking our nest for granted is foolish. Nature is beauty, nature is teacher, nature is healer, nature is our mirror. This again is all reflected in our altar.
Consider all life beneath our feet, all life in the atmosphere, and beyond teeming infinite. The microcosm and macrocosm on an infinite quantum level. This is the big picture we address, by doing so we can see our day to day life with a more clear perception.
The altar is where we interface with a consecrated space, on-going, changing, open to random impulse, emotional callings, quiet introspection. Each piece on the alter is given energy by you, with your intentions, by your feelings of personal relationship with it. With your designations and naming and placement. It is a place of petition and praise.
The alter is your place of healing, grounding and centering. Restoration from the dysfunctions of modern life.
One can implement sound, (rattles, bells, whistles) color, texture, smell of burning sage, sweetgrass, incense. Create an appealing aesthetic to enrich the senses. It is through senses we derive insight. The altar is a larger medicine bag, it represents ones power relationship as well as ones earnest yearnings. It’s a way to learn about our self and feel a deeper connection to life. Daily attendance builds the energy of your altar and makes you stronger. It benefits your ancestors and keeps your personal cosmology alive and dynamic. One is fortified by interacting with the altar – it brings home purpose and meaning in a world without center.
Things change on your altar, objects are handled, assigned, talked to, removed, replaced, added too. It’s both the micro and macro of your evolving inner world as it relates with the outer.
There is a story behind each piece on our altar. Life is a story. We learn best through our personal story and the story of others. All the these stories whether embraced or discarded alter our life path.
Anything handmade by you that has personal depth association, or any gifts given to you with depth of personal meaning are potent artifacts for the altar. Natural material is always best, including candles of beeswax.
One builds and develops over time – one’s own personal cosmology. The story of our mythological lives involves paying close empathic attention to life’s subtle nuances. This is how we gather spiritual insight and wisdom. Returning to the altar is returning to an old friend, picking up where we last dropped off or starting something new. At the altar we commune with our guides, allies, teachers, healers and protectors. As with daily life what we put into relationships is what we get in return – seen or unseen, one develops vital bonds.
The altar is the axis mundi, it is the four sacred directions – our indigenous spiritual blueprint for addressing the divine. The mystery has no static answer, truth changes, our linear time and space continuum is the causality of illusion. Knowing this we respect the perennial unknown and are less likely to pontificate. A spiritual ego creates subtle delusions sabotaging authenticity.
The word altar, how close it is to alter, with same amount of same letters, just one vowel change – the altar can indeed alter consciousness, acting as an amplifier to ones ritual practice. It is a potent tool to have around, and its why many cultures have portable altars for healing, divination, offerings etc… At the very least if an object has earned a place on our altar (but is small enough to wear or be carried by pocket or pouch) we can carry our “medicine” or power with us. The physical presence acts as a constant reminder and is a good way to travel.
At night lying in bed, just before sleep, we can address our intentions and give thanks to our cosmology before entering dreamtime. Often it’s the best way our guides can get through and convey….