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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ritual: clear clutter for clarity & creativity

I’ve been using some of this Virgo energy to clear clutter and deep-clean my home…found this online, very fitting!

Ritual: Clear Clutter for Clarity and Creativity

Tess Whitehurst-Clear Clutter for Clarity Ritual(This ritual was originally published in Llewellyn’s 2011 Spell-A-Day Almanac and on the Llewellyn Spell-A-Day blog. It’s best to do it when the moon is waning.)

Light a yellow candle and a stick of cedar incense.

Hold your hands in prayer pose, close your eyes, and focus your attention at your third eye (above the center of your brows).  Relax and set your intention by envisioning/feeling perfect clarity and creativity in your life.

Now, clear clutter from your home. Box up or discard clothes you don’t wear or that don’t make you feel good, papers you don’t need, gifts you never liked, and everything else that’s just taking up space. Drink lots of water while you do this, and take as much time as you need (even taking extra days if necessary).

When you’re finished, take a shower. Then light a bundle of dried white sage. Move the smoke around your body and home.

Finally, stand in a central location with your hands in prayer pose and say the following nine times:

Clear, creative, joyful, free.

from MBG: 5 Easy Ways To Clear Your Home Of Negative Energy Now

5 Easy Ways To Clear Your Home Of Negative Energy Now Hero Image

A negative space mirrors a negative life.

The total disorganization that erupts when you’re going through a chaotic time at work is common. The unfinished projects that pile up when you’re in a toxic friendship or relationship…also common. Once your life gets overwhelmed by negativity, it will always show up in your home in some way.

Clearing this negativity from your space is the first step towards living a more positive life. Here’s how to do it:

1. Surrender

Decide to stop forcing things to look or feel a certain way based on other people’s standards. Basically, un-decorate your space of everything that doesn’t feel true to you—from the centerpieces from your family that you loathe but feel obliged to keep on the table to your friend’s artwork that you don’t want on the walls but feel pressured to hang. Let go anything around you that feels like an obligation rather than a joy.

2. Clap in corners

The quickest way to get the stagnant energy out of your space is to clap in the corners of each room, or anywhere the energy feels really depressed. If you’ve got rooms you avoid or places that make you tired, clap in those rooms until you feel a shift. The sound waves—along with your positive intentions—are meant to shake up everything that’s stuck.

3. If it’s broken, fix it.

Everything from a dented car to an unhinged window to a blender that doesn’t work needs to be fixed. It’s all a reflection of your life’s condition. Though a home will never be perfect, doing the best you can with what you have will always result in positive energy. If you can’t afford to fix things immediately, make a plan to get them fixed eventually, and keep them in the best possible condition until then.

4. Supercharge your kitchen.

Dr. Terry Wahls gave a talk about her life-healing diet at mindbodygreen’s 2014 Revitalize event, and she emphasized the fact that once she started flooding her body with superfoods and nutrients, it “crowded out” all the bad stuff like inflammation and toxins. Flooding a kitchen with plant-based foods and pure pantry ingredients is a great way to crowd out lingering negativity.

Load up your freezer with frozen organic berries, your fridge with fresh vegetables, and your pantry with unprocessed snacks. Rather than focusing on what you “shouldn’t have”, focus instead on gorgeous, vibrant foods that feed you energy and fill you up with so much goodness that you don’t have much room left for anything else.

5. Add love.

Love is thought to be a universal healing agent, and I believe it. Most of my clients place love at the top of their wish lists.

If you want to truly keep the negativity out of your home, make space to do more of the activities you love. Whether it’s a knitting corner, a chef’s kitchen, or a getaway to write or make music, set aside a space that you love to use every single day.

Days full of happiness and radiant thoughts are worth the effort it takes to scrub, repair, polish and clear your space of everything that’s overstayed its welcome. When you start removing everything from your home—and your life—that’s not in line with your intentions, the awesome things like love, peace, fun, prosperity, health and connection have space to flourish.

Create Your Own Bathing Ritual

 I love the blog posts Sage Goddess does – this one resonates with this new year/new moon purifying energy!

How To Create Your Own Bathing Ritual

Everything you need to know about spiritual bathing practices

At the new year, I often talk about creating a fresh start – coming clean and washing away any stagnant energy or heaviness that has built up in our spirits from the past. These concepts conjure images of crystal clear, soothing water, and with good reason! Water is a healing and rejuvenating element that is instrumental in clearing away anything that no longer serves us, making it an ideal ally for these intentions. I have found sacred bathing rituals to be a powerful means for harnessing the power of water magic, and today I feel called to share with you how to create your own bathing rituals to support your clearing and emotional healing in 2016.

Bathing rituals immerse your body in water – an elemental force of magic which creates movement in your world. This force is felt physically but also energetically. Water teaches us to allow all forms of energy – money, health, happiness, relationships, experiences – to flow with ease and come to us effortlessly. Water is the ruling element of the emotional realm, and of your innate creativity. Water urges you to receive, to love, to create, to feel deeply, and to embrace your emotions with a compassionate heart. There’s a reason our bodies ⅔ water! Even the moon influences our physical functions, given the intimate connection between the moon and water.

There are many tools you can use to create your own sacred bathing rituals. You can infuse your bath water with sacred essences like essential oils, bath bombs, or soothing milks and bubbles to embrace the magical properties of plants and herbs. Your bathroom can be quickly transformed into the most sacred of spaces when filled with magical treasures. The flickering light of an intention candle, the soft spiral of sage’s white smoke, and the gentle vibration of your favorite gems at the edge (or inside) of your tub all work in harmony to open your spirit to water’s healing flow. I adore my personal time in the bath, and I know you will too. It invokes the ancient priestess in all of us. I encourage you to invest in personal healing and self-care in the new year with this sacred bathing ritual:

For this ritual I work with my January Month of Magic Bath Set which includes a bath bomb, a body scrub, body oil, and tealights and are scented with my Fountain of Youth perfume. I also use a washcloth and a small cup or pitcher. I have experienced powerful healing from this ritual and invite you to try it for yourself:

Sage Goddess Cleansing Bath Ritual:

  1. First, set a soft mood in your bathroom. Dim the lights and put on your favorite relaxing music (I enjoy Shaman’s Dream Pandora station).
  1. Then, place a tealight at each corner of your bathtub and light them. Start drawing your bath, filling the tub with warm water. While it’s filling, remove your clothing, sit near the edge of the tub and close your eyes. Listen to the rushing sound of the water from the faucet in meditation. Call in the Eater Elemental Spirits to join you in your space.
  1. When the bath is full, drop your bath bomb in the water and stir it in an infinity symbol with your hand, mirroring the cyclical movement of this sacred element. Breathe deeply and evenly as you sense the water passing through your fingers.
  1. Now, gently get into the bath, submerging yourself in the warm, healing water. As you breathe deeply, take in the aroma of the candles and water.
  1. Take your cup and fill it with water from the bath. Then, start a cycle of pouring the water over yourself, wherever you feel needs clearing. Ask Water to wash away any stagnant energies, letting anything that no longer serves you rush out of your energy field with its current.
  1. When you feel your field is cleared, lather your body scrub in a washcloth and gently massage your body. This will clear any remaining energy, and soften your skin!
  1. Take your time enjoying the waters of your bath, meditating on the sensations and visualizing Water surrounding your body, carrying all negativity away from you. When you feel your ritual is complete, send gratitude to Water and your guides for their support. Open the drain and let all the energy you released be drawn down the pipes, leaving you lighter and at ease.
  1. When you step out of the bath, dry yourself with a soft towel and massage your skin with your body oil for a nourishing treat. This oil will seal the work you’ve done in the ritual, ensuring the healing power is held within you. Repeat this ritual whenever you feel heavy or in need of release.

I hope this ritual brings you deep peace and renewal. Self-care is so critical, especially after the holidays, when we often overextend ourselves energetically. I encourage you to explore the infinite possibilities of working with water magic by trying different bath products to serve your needs. I have many beautiful creations in the shop that I am sure you will love, and I can’t wait to hear what magic you experience!

May you enter the year clean and clear,

Athena

Reblog: In Search of the Sacred

Maia Toll is an instructor in my Witch Camp (online courses) and she has written some fantastic blogs.  This one really resonates with me, so I wanted to share it here!  Original post is here.

We contemplated the nunnery
not out of fear, but out of love.
Love of what, we could not say.  But we knew

it had something to do with the way
a flower twisted toward sunlight,
the way storms gather, bruised and swollen.

This, we could call God…..

My search for the sacred started early, in arguments with Hebrew school teachers and long afternoons sitting beneath the willow trees that were planted to keep our backyard from flooding.  College brought philosophy classes and a severe revulsion for the trappings of religion.

I sought a language of the sacred in the built landscape (thus a few years of architecture school), in art (yup, there was a year of art therapy training), in poetry (which I taught to elementary school children in Harlem), and even in the dreaming journeys of shamanism.

Ultimately, I found communion in the green world, amongst the flowers and trees and the stones. I found a peace and joy in the small messages that a butterfly can bring and in the odd rant of the ravens.   And when I did — the questions, the searching and striving, simply fell away.

I have become familiar with the feeling of communion, how it resonates in my heart and quiets my mind. I know the light frisson of joy that electrifies my skin and reminds me that I am alive and a part of a larger dance.

This feeling is a tuning fork by which I measure the vibration of the places and events in my life.

And so… I walked into the Church of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Sagrada Familia is not an ancient church.  It was started in 1882 and is still an ongoing project.  There is a sense — not only in the present space, but in the writings of its architect Antonio Gaudi — that this is a project for the generations.  That time and evolution are to play a part in the dance of its creation.

sacred-lg2

You will have noted up above that I studied architecture.  From merely looking at the photos of his works, I had wondered (as my husband Andrew did!) if Antonio Gaudi had the word “gaudy” coined for his style.*  I had thought Gaudi’s work was fanciful at best, and frivolous at worst.

And then I walked in and looked up.

The columns of Sagrada Familia are designed to feel like trees. They are precisely proportioned and so, despite the overt ornamentation and allegory, I felt deep peace.  I felt awe for the human accomplishment of this vision that spans from generation to generation, enticing artisans from each decade to add their mark and become part of the greater whole.  It was breathtaking…  and soul-stopping.

The church was crowded the day I was there, as was the Old City of Jerusalem as I stood at the Western Wall five days later, contemplating the seekers and the sacred, wondering what makes a place holy.

We had gone to Israel to visit my sister and her family and to attend my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah.  I expected to sit in ignorance as the service went on around me in a language I neither speak nor understand.  Instead, the Rabbi switched back and forth, Hebrew to English.  He talked about the torah reading for that particular day, and how it turned on the concept of holy space.

He asked my nephew “What space is holy for you?”

My nephew told him that his holy place is his summer camp in America.

The rabbi asked “what makes it holy?”

My nephew answered “The people and the friendships and the memories that are created there.”

As the Rabbi closed the service, he offered a blessing to my nephew: the blessing of finding the holy in every place that he visits so that there is no place that is not sacred.

In that moment, my mind wandered back to Barcelona, to a small church courtyard in the winding alleys of the Gothic district.  An ethereal voice floated over the square, singing Silent Night as the sun dipped lower, casting long shadows over the cobblestones.

We were halfway across the plaza as the singing began. I looked back to see that the ephemeral voice emanated from a squat woman in bright orange sweatpants.

I smiled…

… and a frisson of joy ran down my arms.

Your turn:

Have you stumbled upon an unexpected moment of the sacred? Or been somewhere where you expected to feel that deep sense of peace but felt nothing?  Share below!

Need to be able to create sacred space for yourself wherever you are?

Try putting a few drops of essential oil on your palm, rubbing your hands together and sniffing.

Which oils?

This is soooo personal!  Frankincense, Myrrh, Davanna, Palo Santo, Sandalwood, and Sage have all been used in various cultures to connect us with divinity.  But you may find that the scent of Jasmine or Pine hold a particular association that is just right for you.

Follow your nose and use what speaks to you, personally.

* Oh, and Gaudi and gaudy: no relation!