Sunday, February 3, 2013

Our Altar at Imbolc

Our altar has suffered lately from clutter, and attempting to do too much all at  the same time. So we decided to move the altar proper (the Well, the Fire, the Tree) to its own space, and purchased the lovely red cabinet in this picture for that purpose.  Beneath it, we will have space for storage of consumables (incense, candles, etc) and practical use items (lighters, a small pitcher to pour water, etc) as well as a shelf to house the current spiritual books we have on rotation, so they don't stack up waist high and trip us as we walk by (not that much of an exaggeration).

The green cloth covered cabinet (a repurposed entertainment center) is now our shrine - a place for the seasonal tree, which is decked out for each holiday, as well as a place to hold other ritual items.  This portion will change for each ritual we perform at home.  Right now, it's set for Imbolc.

On  the wall above the shrine are a pair of carved wooden symbols - the UU Chalice, and a triskele with two crescent moons.  Between the altar and the shrine is a tall table that holds what we think of as our chalice.  All of this together is a pretty adequate reflection of the eclectic nature (and history) of our religious journey.

A closer look at the altar, from left to right:  a bell - this was a gift several years ago from a friend who traveled through Asia.  There is a dragon on it, and a connected clapper that swings and hits the bell; our World Tree representation - this is actually a carved wooden "hot chocolate whisk" from Mexico, a gift from my daughter; a stone oil lamp (our Fire) Michael found during a trip to his hometown; a carved drinking horn (carved with a raven), sitting in a carved horn holder - a gift from me to Michael for Yule; a stoneware blue and brown bowl (bought at a yardsale) that serves as our Well, and in front of that a silver bracelet we use to silver the well.  Lastly, a candle snuffer.

Look how pretty the oil lamp is when lit!

The seasonal tree is something I've been doing for about three years now.  This is its 'look' for the season following Yule - blue and silver and white balls and sparkly snowflakes to reflect Winter after Yule has passed.  Amongst the frosty ornaments, there are also a few sun symbols, as the light returns, and for Imbolc, there is a Brigid's cross, as well as a Celtic harp.

For Imbolc, I have surrounded the tree with a ring of dried white roses, saved from a bouquet Michael gifted me a while ago, and next to the tree, a corn husk dolly (our "Bride") lies in her Bride Bed.

 Her bed is actually a stoneware bread tray - at the top is a Claddagh that was a gift from a friend who brought it back from Ireland - it's actually carved out of dried peat.

The Brigid dolly is made from cornhusks - one I made a couple years ago, and filling the bed are a bunch of dried red rose petals from a friend's garden, saved since last summer.

It hadn't actually occurred to me until now how very much of what we use are gifts that connect us with other aspects of our life.

 The remainder of the shrine is a simple arrangement of 8 white tea-lights surrounding 3 red votives - these are being lit for a part of our Imbolc ritual this year.   The trio of red votives reminds me of a red heart.

It seemed wise to make sure nothing cluttered or flammable was anywhere near the candles.

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