When Is a Lamp More Than a Lamp?

I had friends over to dinner in my roof garden yesterday, and something interesting happened: One of the guests asked me if the lamp I’d hung on the ivy-covered old chimney was a shrine to the Virgin Mary. I found that insight fascinating, because although it isn’t–y’know, pagan guy here (which he doesn’t realize, I guess; I neither hide nor advertise my religious beliefs)–he’d somehow identified the sacred position that lamp holds, albeit placing it in the wrong context.

(I hung the lamp as an ode to the moon goddess–I call it my Moon Lamp–as an echo of the lamp She has held aloft for our kind for as long as our kin have walked the Earth.)

Mind you, it’s just an ordinary solar-powered lamp, designed to look like there’s a candle flickering inside, that I ordered off the Internet. But something about it, or the way it was used, communicated the sacred.

Do you know of any “ordinary” objects that have transcended their humble origins so that, even to a casual observer, they invoke the sacred? What about them or their context gives them that extra oomph? Is it placement, surroundings, or some other aspect? Are there “tricks of the trade” that help one imbue something with an air of the sacred? (For example, the way cathedrals tend to place the windows high, so that light streams in from above.) Have you employed any of these tactics, consciously or unconsciously, yourself?

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