Here is our beautiful group altar from the Women's Dance Retreat Gillian and I facilitated over Equinox weekend. Each participant brought an offering that spoke to our theme of renewal, and we opened the retreat by placing the offerings on the altar. Over the course of the weekend, participants spent time at the altar, brought new objects to place on it, took pictures of it, talked about it... by the time this picture was taken, towards the end of the weekend, the altar was overflowing and fairly humming with energy. To close the retreat we each took home an offering from the altar - but not the one we brought. The offerings were distributed randomly, and there was some serious magic in the gifts each participant received!! I love this ritual, and am so happy that we have been making it a part of our recent retreats. I find it so beautiful that women coming from truly diverse spiritual backgrounds (this group had devout christians, buddhists mahayana and zen, neo-pagans, as well as women who didn't identify as "religious") can come together with apparent ease and create shared sacred space. Many people seem to have a natural sense of how to do this, and why, yet in our culture it is not the necessarily the norm to create household altars, temporary altars for events, etc... the word itself evokes something grand or exotic or ancient or somber, not something homey and familiar! I am all for reclaiming the word and the practice of altar making for our daily lives! Your practice can be as simple as lighting a candle to begin your work for the day (or your yoga practice, or your dinner-making,) as a reminder to yourself that your actions have meaning and worth. Here are some more ideas for creating sacred space within you or around you to enhance your daily life:
- Place fresh flowers in your entryway weekly as a symbol of life and beauty to all who enter your home (including you!)
- Take some extra care and time with your daily bathing routine, and honour yourself with special oils or perfumes or a candle lit shower or bath.
- Take a moment before you cook a meal to think about the people you are cooking for and what kind of energy you want to impart to the food - I like to light incense when I do this, and let the fragrance mingle with the cooking smells.
- Create a personal altar - this can be as simple as a candle and a picture on your bedside table! Start your day by lighting the candle on your altar and setting an intention for the day. Remember to put out the candle when you leave the house, but keep carrying the flame in your heart!