so i guess now would be a good time to show you guys my altar space, so there it is.
my temple used to be a walk-in closet that i took all my clothes out of and rearranged some stuff in. i like having a secluded space for my worship. it makes me feel safe and surrounded by my gods. i keep everything in there: my statues of the gods that i actively worship (from left to right: poseidon, haides, persephone, dionysos, apollon, hera, and hermes. komos’ shrine is the picture frame on the very left of the shrine), my devotional jewelry, my incense and candles, stuff for festivals, research books and my hp grimoire under the table, so on and so forth.
i buy a lot of my stuff at resale stores and on etsy. some of it i make myself, like some of the jewelry. the painting is one of my own.
i keep a tin garbage can in there for ashes and stuff like that so i can go to the crossroads and dispose of it on the noumenia each month.
i also have a little urn full of my dad’s ashes that i keep on my hearth shrine.
I had a rather productive but relaxing day off 🙊 I spent most of it laying in the sunshine on the grass and reading under the shade of a tree ~ I also practiced yoga and meditation outside 😌🙏🏼⛅️ as well as medicated often since it was very humid 🙈💨 I even performed a little ritual, made a herbal alchemy seashell candle 🌸🐚 and made an altar for autumn in the forest 🌾🌻✨
I was literally outside all day so I spent the evening rearranging my bedroom altars, updating my book of magic and creating some new spells 🌙🌿💀🔮
This month’s hellenicroundtable topic is “making your own space to worship,” and yeah, I have thoughts about this.
This is probably as good a time as any to show you guys a picture of my shrine/altar/whatever, although it is embarrassingly eclectic because I haven’t got space to do multiple altars:
Upper left corner is what I consider to be more generally spiritual/less pantheon-specific things. The two stone boxes stacked on top of each other hold a couple of Roman coins, a coin from a Spanish shipwreck, and some arrowheads that I found hiking in the desert. Thinking about the vastness of history is very spiritual for me, and holding things made by people two thousand years ago adds to the solemnity. The beige bag has mala beads in it, for meditating; the jar and the stone donut thing are desert rocks (they have some Kemetic stuff going on, so for our purposes here, just ignore them). The little black thing on top of the red bag is a meteorite. It came from space and if anything is spiritual for me, that is.
Khernips in a spray bottle and a stick of incense in the bottom left corner. The little swiss army knife is for carving the names of different gods into the wax on my wax warmer, so that I can dedicate different melts to different deities. Upper right corner is the wax warmer itself (it is magical). The jar next to it has some wood shavings generated when my partner and I had to sand down a dresser to make the drawers fit in it; we were moving in together at the time, so now they’re dedicated to Hera and Hestia, as reminders of my commitment to a happy household and a healthy partnership.
And then there’s this bowl thing:
This is my Dionysos icon, kind of. They’re a bunch of little purple glass pebbles that I found on a free stuff table once, and they reminded me of drops of wine, or bits of amethyst. I can take one with me during the day to remind me of Dionysos, or I can take some out of the bowl and make patterns on the surface of the shrine as a kind of devotional thing. They remind me of Dionysos’s abundance and many forms, and they make me really happy.
There aren’t any candles on the shrine. This is not because I own no candles; in fact, the space underneath is full of them. But they aren’t technically allowed in my apartment, so I only take them out when I’m using them, and I try to use the wax warmer or other means when I can. But let’s be real, I’m a fire geek: I’m never going to replace candles completely.
This has been something of an ongoing process for me. Originally, I didn’t have a shrine of any sort, and my worship space, such as it was, was a temporary setup that I put together whenever I needed it: a black scarf laid out on the floor with candles and often tarot cards on top of it.
I do a lot of things to make the space feel sacred, and only some of them are visible. Smells are powerful triggers for emotion and memory, so the wax warmer, candles, and incense are vital to the process. Ritual and repeated actions are good triggers to, so I try to have things–like the khernips–that are the same every time and put me into that sacred headspace. Making offerings is good too, and I have some things that I only eat or drink when I’m also offering them to the gods–grape juice for Dionysos, for instance. So the taste puts me into that headspace too.
It’s all about feeling, not the actual space itself. When I visit my family, I have a tiny Dionysos shrine in an Altoids tin, and I set it up on my nightstand every night to pray before bed, then pack it away again so no one will see. (My family is cool, and I think my brother is 89% sure I am some sort of pagan, but this is private.) When I’m honoring other gods on the go, I try to do it with offerings–at least a glass of water–and I put the offerings on a windowsill when I can, because it feels closest to nature.
In the end, the things on my shrine are facilitators. They help me to get into the headspace that lets me feel connected to my gods. They are physical manifestations of things that I want to think about or focus on. Even offerings are similar: they’re physical manifestations of my desire to do something nice for the gods, or to thank them, or just to connect to them. You don’t need a big fancy altar to get into that headspace. You only need the things that help you connect.