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Author Topic: Symbolism in Altars & Shrines  (Read 8304 times)

Vella Malachite

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Re: Symbolism in Altars & Shrines
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2012, 03:24:58 am »
Quote from: Sharysa;49840
I've been planning the altar I'd have when I finally have enough money to move out and get my own place.

 
Hah, me, too; I'm living in a dormitory shoebox that barely has enough space for all my stuff let alone an altar.

When I get a proper altar, I think I'm going to put, not images of the gods, but representations of them on it: I have a small swan statue for Aenghus, and I cross-stitched a triskele for Manannan, but I still need to find things for Lugh and Ogma.  I also have a couple of candles collected in colours and scents that I thought were pertinent to the deities; a pale blue and white candle with "island something" scent for Manannan, a yellow candle whose scent escapes me at the moment for Aenghus, an aubergine-purple candle for tM, when I thought I would be following her, but it turns out I didn't.

I'll probably embroider an altar cloth with symbols or Ogham runes if I want an altar cloth in the future, and I'll continue to collect things which remind me of Them and myself as I go, I expect.
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Liadine (dragonflyeyes)

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Re: Symbolism in Altars & Shrines
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2012, 04:59:59 am »
Quote from: Juni;49580
So: for either extant or planned/ideal/what-have-you shrines and altars, what meaning is behind the items and layout? Why do you have them face certain directions, or place them in certain rooms? Why did you choose the colors they are decorated in? Are there specific symbols that you will always have, even if their embodiment changes? What do they mean? Are there symbols you want to incorporate but have not yet figured out how to embody them yet?

Both of my altars are in my room because I'm living with my parents right now. One day I'd love to have a kitchen altar as well, and a hearth altar if I can find somewhere with a fire place...

My day-to-day altar is on an bookshelf, which is useful. On the shelves below I keep my herbs, oils, cards, books, and miscellaneous bits and bobs that come in handy.

Left-hand side:
- The herd of candles is there because I like working by candlelight sometimes.
- Right now there's a jeweled branch and a feather in the bud vase, but when possible I try to find a flower or two to put in there - partially because I like having flowers for Brighid, partially because I like having flowers on my altar in general. (The peacock feather is a little more complicated; I know it needs to be there, but I don't know why.)
- The white piece of rabbit fur has a silver-and-amber rose on it; it was a gift from a friend, and it's my favourite symbol for Brighid.
- The tiny notebook is on the altar because I use it a lot while working.
- The bell's also there for practical reasons, and next to it is a tea-light holder of the skyline of London. I'm planning on moving there within a year, and the reminder helps keep me focused on all the things that need doing to get there.
- The tiny bowl between the two ivy candle holders is there because of some work I was doing earlier, normally it lives in one of the bookshelf baskets. Sometimes it also holds offerings if one of my larger bowls won't fit/work.

Right-hand side:
- The tree candle holder was the first thing I purchased for my altar, and I couldn't imagine having a main altar without it anymore. When the candle is lit it casts branch shadows on the wall.
- The cast-iron stag on the brown rabbit fur is one of my favourite possessions, and it represents the horned guy (the god I work with who apparently doesn't have a name, or at least not one I can find). Also on the rabbit fur are an arrowhead (hunting and practical craftsmanship, among other things) and a carved bone.
- The little sachet is for a prosperity spell, which reminds me that I should probably renew it soon.
- The little bottle of perfume is BPAL's Grand Inquisitor's Heretic's Fork, which has a lot of scent associations with the horned guy.
- I keep his incense mix in the glass, plus the cinnamon stick I use as cheat-incense when I don't have time to light up any charcoal.
- There's some kitchen witch resin incense in the jar; it was a purchase on Etsy and I've been using it a lot lately.

I should probably sleep now, I'll post my Brighid shrine later.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2012, 05:03:39 am by Liadine (dragonflyeyes) »
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iulla

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Re: Symbolism in Altars & Shrines
« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2012, 06:04:08 pm »
Quote from: Juni;49580

So: for either extant or planned/ideal/what-have-you shrines and altars, what meaning is behind the items and layout? Why do you have them face certain directions, or place them in certain rooms? Why did you choose the colors they are decorated in? Are there specific symbols that you will always have, even if their embodiment changes? What do they mean? Are there symbols you want to incorporate but have not yet figured out how to embody them yet?


I live in a pretty small apartment, so my altar (in my path, it's called a lararium) is in my room on top of a bookshelf.  Oh the symbolism...hahaha.

I have a white cloth on top of the bookshelf, first off.  I think I chose white because it is the color of purity in the Religio, and not because every little incense particle used to show up there (before I switched to oil).

There are three statues of my patrons on the altar.  One is a statue of Mercurius, which I recently painted.  Another is a smaller figurine of Iuno.  The third one is a stone reworked into an owl, which is a representation of Minerva.

On the back of the altar is a hand-drawn picture in the style of the fresco of an ancient lararium.  On the left is Ianus, the god of gateways, doors, beginnings, etc.  He is holding a key in his left hand and a staff in his right, symbolizing his functions as a deity.  To his right is the Lar Familiaris, the protector of my apartment; he is holding an offering dish in one hand and a rhyton (drinking vessel) in another.  To his right is a representation of my iuno, which is sort of like a tutelary deity; she is holding out a dish to the Lar and is holding a cornucopia.  Typically, this would be a genius (the male version of the iuno, but as I am a female, this is not so.  Hahaha.  To her right is Vesta, the goddess of the hearth and home; she is holding a sheaf of wheat and a flame, symbolizing baking and her sacred flame, respectively.  Below the four deities is a snake, which is a representation of fertility and protection.

Other things that are on the altar are an oil burner with a candle to represent Vesta and a shallow indent on the top for scented oil.  I use oil instead of incense, because I'm allergic to incense.  

There are two offering dishes, one for liquid and one for food, a replica of a Greek vase, and a couple pictures of my family.  The lararium is as much an altar to the family as it is to the gods, maybe more.
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MarieBay

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Re: Symbolism in Altars & Shrines
« Reply #18 on: May 24, 2012, 10:35:42 pm »
Quote from: Juni;49580
While I do enjoy the "show off your altar/shrine space here" thread, I confess I am more interested in the symbolism behind the items and arrangement than anything else.

 
I've moved A LOT in the past two months (6 times), so most of my lovely altar items are stowed away until I find a permanent home.

I currently work with a small "travel kit" that consists of:
- Statue of Ganesh, a gift from my aunt. He's my primary deity, and it's a pretty brass statue.
- Vintage hand-crocheted doily, a gift from a close friend, to replace an altar cloth. I work with textiles, so having some scrap of fabric around is important.
- Rocks and crystals and bits of wood, mementos from travel. I carry a chunk of stone from the place I grew up, some quartz for energy work, a small rock my sister painted, and a few other oddities. They're either for energy work or they're just pretty.
- A candle of some sort. For candle business.  

It's pretty simple. Usually I have:
- A beautiful handwoven altar cloth. Well, several on hand for different occasions. I've made all except one of my cloths. The latest one had goddess figures woven in!
- Statue of Ganesh and a little travelling buddha statue
- Candle holders and beeswax candles (locally made!)
- Stone offering jar full of fresh bay leaves for Apollo, or dried leaves if the grocery store runs out
- Lots of incense (snow lion, nag champa, and patchouli) and my eagle feather
- Flowers as an offering
- Significant stones, depends on what I'm working on  
- Handmade cloth prayer flags
- Brass bells to clear the energy and ground me after meditation
- My cat. He liked to sleep on my altar and nothing would deter him.

I can't wait to settle down for a little while and set it all up again! I had it set up on my teeny kitchen table in my old apartment, and it always looked like I was celebrating some sort of festival in there.

Malia

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Re: Symbolism in Altars & Shrines
« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2012, 12:05:34 pm »
Quote from: Juni;49580
While I do enjoy the "show off your altar/shrine space here" thread, I confess I am more interested in the symbolism behind the items and arrangement than anything else.

So: for either extant or planned/ideal/what-have-you shrines and altars, what meaning is behind the items and layout? Why do you have them face certain directions, or place them in certain rooms? Why did you choose the colors they are decorated in? Are there specific symbols that you will always have, even if their embodiment changes? What do they mean? Are there symbols you want to incorporate but have not yet figured out how to embody them yet?

I'll answer my own questions in another post. :)


My altar is in my bedroom and on my desk because 1) having it elsewhere would raise questions from and get in the way of my family, and 2) it's the only space with enough room for my stuff. My room is very small (the width is the length of a twin size bed, and the length is 1.5 twin size bed lengths), so my desk is stuffed into a corner, causing my altar to face east by default.

My altar consists of an offering bowl with two candles--white & purple--on either side. There's also a small black triangular easel waiting to hold a depiction of Rhiannon; to the left of that is a red and blue stained stone goblet (it's off to the side till I finalize my altar). Also to the right of the offering bowl is a "fairy lantern", this wirey beaded thing a friend made for my birthday. And in front of all of this is a wand made of alder with white yarn wrapped at the bottom for a good grip, a copper Tree of Life pendant strung onto the yarn. There's also a seagull feather to the left of the offering bowl. (There's currently no meaning behind their positions.)

The white candle basically symbolizes Rhiannon's association with the moon and appearance in lore as/with a white mare; it's also just a basic candle. The purple candle is to aid the spiritual part of my path since Rhiannon's from the Otherworld and all. The goblet is to symbolize water, since that's related to the moon. The seagull feather basically represents air, but also water and my association of Rhiannon with the ocean. The wand is made of alder so as to allow me control over my life (and magical workings, of course); the white yarn may achieve some meaning later on, but the copper pendant helps with the wand itself. The fairy lantern...yeah, still don't know about that, but I suppose it could somehow be connected to the Otherworld. Nothing to be said for the easel and offering bowl; they're just filling in until I find something to either replace or give meaning to them.

But that's not all there is to my altar space. To the right of the area I mentioned, I have a jewelry box with my seashell collection atop it (including a sand dollar), a small box of milky quartz for charming, a small chest of drawers for some of my jewelry supplies (atop which I have my Tarot deck), and a large black leather box to store my stones. Above my altar, there's a shelf half-filled with glass/plastic lidded containers to be used when I get around to making oils and whatnot.

As for what to incorporate later on, I'd really love to have some sort of white horse statuette, or get some flameless rose incense since that's Rhiannon's flower.

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Re: Symbolism in Altars & Shrines
« Reply #20 on: May 27, 2012, 05:45:54 pm »
Quote from: garlicandmint;49764
I have a very small Hekate shrine by Diane De Baun with a pink tealight candle on it. The shrine is purple and sits on my bedside table. I chose it because purple is a color I associate with Hekate and I thought it was beautiful. I also loved that it was a depiction of Hekate as a triad, and also had a moon image.


De Baun's shrines are nothing short of stunning. *staaares*

My setup sits at the corner of my desk, against the wall, and is as space-economical as I can make it. I have a small diptych icon, my best shot at recreating an iconostasis setup, standing on a white handkerchief (that's how much space I could spare). Taped on the walls behind are postcard icons of St Helena, the city patron, and St Brigid, my personal patron. In front of the diptych I have a rock salt holder where I burn a tealight every night. Oil lamps are traditional, but out of the question in a room I share with a four-year-old! He's the reason I don't burn incense either.

Although rosaries are not part of Orthodox practice, I enjoy using one - a small olivewood affair brought to me from Israel. I'd love to have it on the altar when not in use, but little grabby hands make it more prudent to keep it in a drawer, with the stash of tealights. :(
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NibbleKat

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Re: Symbolism in Altars & Shrines
« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2012, 11:52:05 am »
Quote from: Juni;49580
While I do enjoy the "show off your altar/shrine space here" thread, I confess I am more interested in the symbolism behind the items and arrangement than anything else.

So: for either extant or planned/ideal/what-have-you shrines and altars, what meaning is behind the items and layout? Why do you have them face certain directions, or place them in certain rooms? Why did you choose the colors they are decorated in? Are there specific symbols that you will always have, even if their embodiment changes? What do they mean? Are there symbols you want to incorporate but have not yet figured out how to embody them yet?

I'll answer my own questions in another post. :)


I actually keep my altar as simple as possible.  The reason? I have a hard enough time connecting with deity, so the more clutter and symbols I find on the altar, the harder it is to focus on the actual god/desses I'm trying to talk to/listen to.  

Therefore, I have three statues- my main deity, Hermes, is in the middle, facing forward.  The other two, Sirona (on the left) and Sequana (on the right) face in a little, just because I suppose it looks better.  There's one candle for Hermes directly in front of his statue, so that if I really, really want to try and focus on him, I can light it and try to stare into the flame to focus my attention.  Two other candles for the goddesses are to the right, off of the altar, close enough that I still feel it's more sacred space than not.  (That's where I keep my spiritual/occult books and the memorial stuff for my father who died Aug. 25 of 2011.  And, off to the right of that bookcase is my memorial altar for my kitty Tweak, seen in my icon there, so it's all sort of sacred, I guess....)

I've got an incense burner and an offering plate, and that's it.  The incense is kept on a shelf on the lower bit of the altar.

OH.  Well. Here's a thing that might be interesting.  My altar is actually an old repurposed telephone stand-- pretty fitting since Hermes is a god of communication. :)
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PaganPickle

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Re: Symbolism in Altars & Shrines
« Reply #22 on: June 05, 2012, 02:55:29 pm »
Here is mine:



Ok so here goes:

The green bottle with the cork in is filled with water, to represent... well water, for obviouse reasons. The Flowers where an offering to Sekhmet. The pottery bowl is filled with black sand to represent egypt. I also have a statue of Ma'at, Khonsu and Sekhmet. The black runner with blue trim was asked for by Sekhmet and made by my awesome wife. The Teddy is for Taweret.

Hope you like
« Last Edit: June 05, 2012, 02:58:07 pm by PaganPickle »
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