"There are two paths to transformation: the way out-beyond and the way deep-within. Either way will work. But it's no good to stay here wavering between the two, weighing which one asks the least of you." A leap day altar, and more excerpts from my altar-a-day challenge...
To dig my soul-toes deeper into this fertile soil, I’ve decided to pair my Word of the Day practice with reflections on the #UULent Photo-A-Day challenge. My Word-of-the-Day calendar is full of verbs. The #UULent reflections are mostly nouns. Each morning, I sit down and craft an altar that expresses an aspect of these two words in combination. I'm looking forward to discovering what intriguing combinations I'll spiral through over the next six weeks! I'll be sharing my altars daily (along with some inspiring quotes and a few words of reflection of my own) on both my Facebook page and my Holy Wild Tumblr, if you'd like to follow along.
However you celebrate the vernal equinox, may the many blessings of spring be with you today!
I've created many altars, shrines and ritual spaces over the years. Each expressed the unique needs and aspirations of who I was at the time of its creation, and each balanced the limits of my living space with the potential for aesthetic and spiritual engagement. For these have all been living spaces — spaces that were alive with their own energies and moods, spaces that shaped my understanding of myself and sculpted me into new forms even as I organized and cleansed and decorated and invariably made a mess of them in an ever-repeating cycle. House-hunting in Seattle has put me in mind of these many different sacred spaces, and what new altars I will craft as I make a home for myself on the shores of a new ocean. So, while I'm nursing my jet lag and scrambling to pack, I thought this week might be a good opportunity to take a look back at some of those altars of old as I dream of inspiration for new ones yet to come.
What is the sacred grove? The nemeton, sanctuary of spirit. A place set apart, a respite from wildness. Amongst the trunks of sacred trees — thick, tall pillars of rough bark etched in rivulets and knots that watch like eyes as light and shadow dance across the land — there is a space, within which all wildness, noise and dancing gives way to stillness. The grove is the eye of the world, as the storm has its eye that watches calmly from the very center the turning, roiling winds that utterly surround it. But this is no hard-edged circle, a gate that slams shut against the sacred mess and buzz of the world. The grove is made of wildness, too, an edge sculpted by wind and rain and sunlight, an eddy in the currents of energy. It is an in-drawn breath, a going-in amidst the goings-on, that opens up a center deep in the very heart and flux of things. And in the sacred grove, there is the altar where we do our work. A center of gravity, a pole that runs the length of the universe and patiently turns the worlds around itself.
A few days ago, our landlord and his son asked us to clear our tiny front porch area while they worked on stripping and repainting the ceiling. Usually we have a small table set out front with a few candles and the odds-and-ends the kids bring back with them from the woods. We don't always do a great job of maintaining this outdoor altar, especially during the cold months of snow and ice... But today, I needed some spiritual down-time to ground in the textures and scents of the earth and replenish my soul a bit. Our landlord's home improvement project seemed a perfect excuse to revisit our outdoor altar with fresh eyes.