For some reason, I don’t like the word, ‘shrine’. I don’t know why; I guess I need to think about my subconscious associations with the word. I think it gives me the wrong mental picture. For me, I see a gilt Christian Cross with an effigy of Mary dressed as a nun in white and a basin of blessed Holy water, and a pious and devote peasant woman kneeling and muttering in Romanian. That’s not really bad; it is a true devotional image. I probably look and sound like that to others. (Well, except for the Romanian, but Gaelic is still Greek to most people; and I am drawn to that Hearth Culture as well. Romanian, I mean.) 😉
However, the word ‘altar’ conjures up a whole different set of head shots. A big standing stone. Celtic carvings. Druids reaching to the sky and chanting, about to sacrifice… moonlight, mystery, the old Gods, the old Ways. In short, my path. So, although it’s shrine for ADF, it’s altar for me.
At any rate, I have been focusing on Week 7 for the WotY; I had started to think and get started on my home altar before this, but I really worked on the homework today. I did both the required and the suggested readings, for I have both the Ellison book and the Corrigan book. I find Rev. Ellison’s ‘The Solitary Druid’ most helpful. Another part of the reading I really liked was Kami Landry’s ‘Taking It All Home’, posted on the ADF website. Both these resources gave me ample ideas for the expansion of daily devotionals and how to begin incorporating them into my life naturally.
I have the shrine nearly complete. I have the advantage of a fireplace with a raised hearth, made of native limestone, with a rough-hewn wood mantel; my shrine literally goes from floor to ceiling.
My fire hallow stays on the altar inside the firebox year round; it is an iron candelabra that holds 5 candles. For the light half of the year, I have a series of fiery sun-coloured orange candles; for the dark half of the year, I have a deep purplish black set. Of course, for certain High Days, I will remove this candelabra and replace it with a real fire, but for daily devotionals, this works extremely well. Also, I’m planning on putting an altar cloth with specific items to the workings on the hearth, for High Days.
Above the firebox on the mantel, is my second and central Hallow, Water. I have a fountain in the shape of the Aberlemno High Cross, with depictions of Celtic seahorses. Firstly, I believe in honoring the Celtic Christian path of my Ancestors; also, my Patron Deity is Mannannán Mac Lir; the sea horses are His, as well as the fountain basin. To either side of the fountain is seasonal greenery; I will update this greenery as the seasons pass, marking all four in turn. Balanced on each end of the mantel are silver candlesticks with tapers in them, which I will also light in my daily devotionals. In the seasonal greenery, off to one side, is my offering bowl, a black basin used for scrying as well; it has depictions of Maiden, Mother and Crone around the edges as well as Celtic knotwork. Since my Deity is An Mór-Ríoghain, and she is often seen as a triple Deity often associated with Ravens and black, I felt this to represent my Goddess. Also in this area are large stones and a carved Pentacle, for Earth, for Ancestry and for Nature.
Currently, I feel satisfied with my depictions of Deity as they are. Right now, my relationship with Them are just beginning. As my relationship with Them evolve, so may the depictions I have. Currently, I connect with them through elements and Their animal forms, mostly, not necessarily Their human forms. Thus, the water and the Celtic seahorses for Mannannán, the black offering bowl with Maiden, Mother, Crone effigies for An Mór-Ríoghain all work for me. I may add some Raven or other black bird feathers for her, as well.
In the middle of the limestone rock as the centerpiece above the mantel, is my Tree of Life. After long debate, I decided to create a depiction of the Tree, using my living boughs from my trees on the property, with their permission, of course. I am still working on this phase of the altar (shrine).
When this is complete, I will photo-document it, and document my plans for future expansion and evaluation.