You won’t find any pictures of the various altars I’ve had over the years here. Sorry. It’s not because I feel that it’s too private, it’s not. I’ve only once taken a picture of my altar and that was back when I was starting daily practice. I remember taking the picture for sharing on the web, so I know it’s out there somewhere floating in cyberspace as bits of data freezing that moment in time. Over the years I’ve become more relaxed about keeping an altar; partly from necessity and partly from intentional laziness.
I’ve moved many times in the years that I’ve been Pagan. And I found that packing up what became an essential focus in my life very depressing. Too often it would be months before I would see those cherished items again. I become too attached to my altar. My practice vanished the moment it was packed away.
I felt that I had packed up my heart with it and that hurt. I knew that my practice and faith wasn’t bound in physical items, that it was what is in my heart that matters most. Teaching that to my heart was not easy.
I’ve been in a stable place for the last five or six years now and I still don’t have an altar set-up. I now have an altar box that houses my prized possessions and it’s fairly portable as well. I still set up a full altar when the need arises but mostly it’s packed away. My children are still young and this place is too small to devote the amount of space I’d prefer to keeping my altar out in the open.
Some things I don’t want to deal with; “No running with the athame in the house.” or “No, spit that out! Charcoal is not for eating. ” Yes, I would have to say these things to my children. Going out in the garden has already taught me this. How does mulch look yummy? That’s not how I want them to commune with an Earth Goddess. Perhaps when they are older and in more control of their impulses, I’ll start again if the spirit moves me.
But I’ve learned a lot being an altar-less Pagan. The Divine isn’t sitting somewhere I can see, reminding me everyday where my thoughts need to be. I had to double my efforts at first to stay on that spiritual level. Then I’ve found the Divine lurking in every corner of the house and then outside and down the road and in friends homes. The Divine is everywhere. Somehow I had misplaced that little fact when I set up my altar. My mind knew it but my heart had not learned it.
I’m learning the value of letting go. I’m possessive naturally and this is a bit of shadow work that still needs attending. When I become attached it’s hard to undo it without abandoning the whole; no matter what it is. (grins) Got to love early childhood traumas.
I’m learning my practice isn’t dependent on an altar at all. When and where and how I choose to worship and honor the Divine does not need to follow a set formula. I move with the spirit when it calls me. I have the freedom of being a solitary, of being an eclectic Hellenic Pagan. I am free to accept the guidance of the Divine without trying to shove Their direction in square holes because I’m too rigid. One Divine smack-down is enough in one lifetime, thank you very much.
I believe. I pray. I worship. I give thanks. Some days I work a little magic. Some days I don’t. I do my best to live right, to do right, to find meaning every day. I see the Divine everywhere. The whole world has become my altar.