The Purpose of an Altar: Intention and Intuition

thought this was a good reminder from DailyOm

 

The purpose of having an altar in your home can be as simple as reminding you to take time for serenity each day.altar.JPG

If you didn’t grow up with an altar in your home, having an altar now may seem like an exotic and unattainable idea. Yet having an altar does not have to be complicated or difficult, nor does it need to be based on a religion or a set of ideas that don’t seem to relate to you. An altar can be a simple, personal expression of what you want to focus on right now. You do not have to build anything or take up a lot of space. You do not have to buy anything new or follow a complex set of instructions to create your altar. All you have to do is have a general understanding of what an altar is and the willingness to allow yourself access to this wonderful, ancient tool of transformation.

At its most essential, an altar is simply a raised structure that serves as a resting place for meaningful objects. It focuses the eye and provides a place for contemplation and, if so desired, ritual. All of these elements can be quite simple. One idea for a simple altar is a pot with a bulb planted in it, set on a box. This altar to growth can act as a reminder to you that all living things bloom in their time. A simple ritual might be to write down dreams you would like to see come to fruition on scraps of paper. You might place these scraps of paper in the box, or under the flowerpot, or in an envelope you prop against the pot. As the flower grows, so will your dreams.

If you look around your home, you may find that you have already created altarlike arrangements without even really thinking about it; this is something we humans do quite naturally. A candle, a decorative box, and a vase of flowers are just a few of the common household objects that lend themselves naturally to the creation of an altar. Simply add intention and intuition, and you have created your first altar. Remember that it isn’t necessarily about the objects you place at your altar–it is the time you spend with it daily, taking the time to be with it for your sacred time.

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finding your tribe

I thought this email was really fitting given my current journey and soul work…

womenscircles

from DailyOm

We all desire to find our tribe, a community of those that feel comfortable to us and nurture our journey.
Part of being human is the search for an individual identity. Bound to this strong need to establish a unique persona, however, is an equally intense desire for acceptance. It is when we find our individual tribes that both are satisfied. Our tribe members are those people who accept us as we are without reservation and gladly accompany us on our journeys of evolution. Among them, we feel free to be our imperfect selves, to engage unabashedly in the activities we enjoy, and to express our vulnerabilities by relying on our tribe for support. We feel comfortable investing our time and energy in the members of our tribe, and are equally comfortable allowing them to invest their resources in our development.

The individuals who eventually become members of your unique tribe are out there in the wide world waiting for you. You are destined to find them, one by one, as you move through life. Sometimes your own efforts will put you in contact with your future tribe members. At other times, circumstances beyond your control will play a role in helping you connect with your tribe. If you look about you and discover that you are already allied with a wonderful and supportive tribe, remember that there are likely many members of your tribe you have not yet met. On the other hand, if you feel you are still living outside of your tribe, broadening your horizons can help you find your tribe members.

However your life develops after you come together with your tribe, you can be assured that its members will stand at your side. On the surface, your tribe may seem to be nothing more than a loose-knit group of friends and acquaintances to whom you ally yourself. Yet when you look deeper, you will discover that your tribe grounds you and provides you with a sense of community that ultimately fulfills many of your most basic human needs.

see my heart

at last week’s retreat, we did this amazingly powerful heart sharing and holding exercise/ritual. I can’t really put words to it, but it was striking, and left a deep impression on most of us (I think/feel).  it is quite rare that we bare our hearts, and even more rare for them to be held, silently but fully, without a word being uttered.

as we walked out that night, I heard this song clearly in my mind and heart….fittingly called Vide Cor Meum – or, in english, See My Heart.  opera doesn’t always sing to my heart (see what I did there?), but this makes my heart close its eyes and sway around, no lie.

(the video below with the song is simply scenes from a film – not related. although I do love that film too!)

 

when the latin is translated, you get the words below – while they aren’t explicitly describing what we experienced….in some way, they feel like what we experienced to me.

being seen.

see my heart.

 

And thinking of her
Sweet sleep overcame me
I am your master
See your heart
And of this burning heart
Your heart
(She trembling)
Obediently eats.
Weeping, I saw him then depart from me.
Joy is converted
To bitterest tears
I am in peace
My heart
I am in peace
See my heart

magic is natural.

saw this on the welcome page for The Smart Witch – check out the website!  it was good enough to share!

Magic is natural. It is a harmonious movement of energies to create needed change. At the core of magic is a joyous union with nature.

The Earth is a manifestation of divine energy. Nature is constantly singing to us, revealing her secrets. Listen to the Earth, learn the lessons she so generously offers.

When we are in touch with the Earth, we are in touch with Deity. Deity is not distant. The Goddess and the God are within each of us, and manifest in all nature. This is the universality: there is nothing that is not of the Goddess and the God – the All. These ideals are the true foundation of magic. The traditions and ritual are secondary to the ideals and serve to celebrate them.

With ritual as a means to enter ritual consciousness, we are able to expand our knowledge. Affirmative rituals, prayers and spell work help us to know the Divine as both immanent and transcendent. Thus we affirm what is already ours to claim as manifestations of Divine Power. We each are a glorious manifestation of Divinity, of the Goddess and the God and of Life!

how tight are your shoes?

a lovely weekend of yoga, soul nourishment, ritual, magic, nature, and connection has me calmer than usual on this working Monday, and also more inspired.

came home to some Rumi (adore Rumi):

If you put on shoes that are too tight
and walk out across an empty plain,
you will not feel the freedom of the place
unless you take off your shoes.

it made me think…

what constrictions do we carry with us that keep us from feeling the amazing energies around us?  from feeling free?

chota-deosai

Sagittarius Full Moon: A World You Want To Live In

in the light of all that’s been happening in the world recently, this post hit home for me.

Attractive woman over the cloud world map

Sagittarius Full Moon: A World You Want To Live In

Have you ever found your self in a relationship dynamic that you didn’t want to be in? Ever find your self, wondering: How did it get this bad? Was it the leaky faucet we neglected to fix? All those times I went silent when I should’ve spoken? That’s how many of us feel, lately, living in this world gone mad. And this dysfunctional relationship is extremely one-sided. The world is not being a good listener. It doesn’t ask you what you want and need, nor does it care. No matter how much you try to fix it, no matter how much you try to help, like an alcoholic that needs to bottom out on its own, it does what it does. No, it’s not going to change — not anytime soon, anyhow.

Yet here we are, on social media, in our conversations, attempting to have a relationship with a world gone crazy. My social media feed is a noisy cacophony of responses. Planet of communication, Mercury, in Gemini, is filling out a t-square to the Saturn-Neptune square at this Full Moon. Language can feel futile right now; how does one engage nonsense? As the saying goes, You can’t reason with crazy. Opinions have never been so freely on tap, and when everyone feels the need to speak up and share what they think, how we use our words becomes increasingly important. Do we perpetuate fear, or love, with our words and thoughts? I’ve decided the only appropriate response to world events is art. Perhaps, poetry. Maybe some spoken word:

Make all things possible again because I cannot see

I AM in a snowstorm searching for my keys

I’m being bombarded by a thousand things I did not ever want, nor ask for

None of this is mine

All of this is mine,

Now

No, this isn’t a world I created -at least I don’t remember doing so. Yet now it is mine and I, and you, have a choice about how to participate. We can throw our words into the ring- share the innumerable meme and hate-battling sentiments, fill up our rectangular white comment blocks with more… words (sometimes our participation magnifies something, making it bigger). We can allow the fire to purify our purpose and send us on a mission to do some real good and healing. We can become a more effective change-maker (and if you know how to do this, please step forward now). If we’ve ever contributed to the shadows of bigotry, prejudice, hate and injustice that’s plaguing us now, we have the responsibility to help clean that stuff up. Or we can choose to not participate.

Let me say this: You are not a cruel and insensitive person for not openly bleeding all over your Facebook feed. Refusing to engage with a world gone mad is not avoidance. It is preservation of sanity.  I’m thinking of the recently deceased Muhammad Ali, a conscientious objector who decided to not participate in something unconscionable- the Vietnam War. I’m thinking of myself, and all the empaths who, when an act of violence drops into the atmosphere, feel it in our physical body, as something painfully destabilizing that starts making little then more noticeable inroads into our sanity, centeredness, and ability to hold peace and healing for our selves and others. Empathic or not, we are all being impacted by world events on energetic levels.

We may not be able to choose the world we live in, but we can choose to inhabit a world we want to live in. Full Moon Sagittarius shines a light beam of hope and possibility into the darkness. Let’s reach for higher ground– if only inside our self. Let’s imagine a world we want to live in. Close your eyes. What do you see? Everything is possible inside your mind’s eye, perhaps not on the outside (not yet anyhow) but inside you have an arena to play and create. Follow your inspirations, now more than ever. Give yourself permission to have a sacred sanctuary that upholds everything you stand for, your beliefs, your loves, beauty, values and truth. Hang out there. Often. You are not burying your head in the sand. You are holding a light of peace for us all. 

I create the world I want to live in. I take many trips to the garden. I court hummingbirds, wear rose oil and read books I love because this makes me feel good. Instead of giving myself over to emotional depletion, I vigilantly fill myself up. I remember what’s important, as a practice, many times a day and when fear, paranoia and despair arises from the ego structures that perpetuate them, I let that stuff go. That is not the world I want to live in. By not participating in a world I do not want, I start to create the world I want. That’s how I help heal everything. I plant flowers. I listen to music. I make dinner. I make love. I make art.

I do my women’s work

The work that all women do,

Silent but not quiet

We ask for fresh water, for healing, cleansing

We make magic disguised as small ordinary everyday things

Feeling blood pump back into muscle

Remembering what’s not mine and what is mine, strength grows

There is power in small places

A garden can feed a neighborhood

A bedroom can conceive a life

A dream can give rise to vision

An ant can pull 5,000x her body weight

Miracles happen

A hippopotamus gives strawberry pink milk to her young

My strawberry flows into me and into you

I leave a trail of sweet smelling fragrance wherever I walk

Light follows me

Sound of music and birds find me

I open my mailbox and I receive… my self

 

I can find myself again because I know where to look

I can take nourishment in the Mother

Venus has just entered Cancer, sign of the Mother Goddess, and the Sun will join her on this Full Moon day. The feminine always has healing nourishment on hand. The feminine, with her ability to nourish beauty and all of life even in the most desolate of times, can turn bitter vinegar into sweet wine, can teach us how to heal, and, like a flower gently turning toward the sun, open our hearts to love. She awaits, a perpetual invitation to remember our divinity. This is my world, a world I want to live in. I choose to inhabit this world. How about you?

prayer for the day

I recently wrote about my own internal process of reconciling myself with some terms and ideas that I relate to Christianity, which, in truth, are much broader.  one of those is the idea of prayer.

where I used to feel that prayer is a uniquely christian-based act, over time, I have realized it is far from it – our conception of prayer and addressing the divine existed for centuries before the christ was even an idea.

yesterday, I awoke to news of a mass shooting in orlando.  I will not make any commentary here – I simply don’t feel up to it, except to say that I can’t wrap my mind around such hate. normally, the news doesn’t get to me, but this act really began to bother me as I read about it.  I felt helpless.  and it occurred to me, the only thing I felt I could do was offer prayers.

so, I referred to my handy “book of pagan prayer” for something to bring comfort, and I wanted to share and record some here…hopefully they are a source of comfort and strength to someone out there reading, regardless of the deity or divinity your heart and spirit choose to address.

“with your soothing fingers,
wipe away the lines that worries have etched on our faces.
surround us with calm,
let us rest in the glow of peace,
as if we were encircled with the Moon’s own light.
let our concerns and tensions drain from us,
pouring as water into your Earth.
accept our troubles
and transform them into wonders.”

“I drop these fears into your ocean
and watch them sink from sight.
I place these fears on your broad Earth
and see them rot away.
I put these fears into your hands
and they are no more.
When you offer your arms to me,
Great Mother,
your hands hold nothing but love.”

and so it is.
prayers for all of us.

adapted hymn, yes?

Many pagans/pantheists that I know have history with the Christian church, and sometimes that brings baggage – like not feeling comfortable with words that were used often.  I’ve had my share of working out with words like “lord”, “prayer”, “praise”, etc.

but, as I grow and learn, I am seeing those terms for the broader, unconditioned meanings they have in every faith, including my own.  I am learning to see prayer as something good and available to me outside the Christian church.  I’ve also come across some songs recorded by Christian artists that, when I think of them as relates to the overall Divine, they are really moving and amazing.  Like the following, which I love…an old hymn, re-done in my mind.  feel free to read “lord” and “he” as anything that is meaningful to you – he, she, god, goddess, lady, divine, universe, etc….

sort of makes me want to put the windows down, drive, and sing my version of praise music!

 

the words:

praise to the lord, the almighty, the king of creation

o my soul praise him for he is thy health and salvation

all ye who hear, now to his temple draw near
praise him in glad adoration

praise to the lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth

shelters thee under his wings, yea, so gently sustaineth

hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been granted in what he ordaineth?

praise to the lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee

surely his goodness and mercy here daily attend thee

ponder anew what the almighty can do, if with his love he befriend thee

praise to the lord, oh let all that is in me adore him

all that hath life and breath, come now with praises before him

let the amen sound from his people again
gladly for e’er we adore him

hallelujah….