I have altars. I know this is probably not very shocking. It seems like, as a practitioner of a polytheistic religion, you must have one. I’ve had them for my Deadz, which has since been broken down and put away. I’ve had small ones. I’ve had larger ones. I’ve had medium-sized ones. I’ve had ones that get shared by other gods and other spirits. I’ve had ones that evolved and I didn’t realize that I was making a kind of altar space until I looked at them just so. I’ve mentioned this before but, primarily, the reason why I have all this altar stuff is because I need a place to focus my intent when I pray, when I break down, when I commune, and all of that. While I fall under the blanket term of a Kemetic polytheist, I tend to consider myself an idolator first and foremost. (Think of an image of some money-hungry person bathing in dollar-dollar bills, y’all, and instead of bills, put statues and whatnot. That’s me.) So, yeah, I have altars.
Thing is, I’ve been eyeballing my altar spaces and just feeling like they’re all wrong. I don’t mean the ones that happened overnight or out of the blue. Those were more accidental than anything else. But when I look at the table I have Hekate on and I look at my spooky cabinet, housing Legba, Sekhmet, and Hetharu… I’m just completely discontent with what I have going. I keep staring in the hopes that something will click and feel right, but nothing of this happens. Instead, I end up feeling dissatisfied with the general feel coming from over there. It’s not stagnant. It’s not blocked. It’s not anything that I can put my finger on, but there is just something about those places that are causing me to wonder what the hell I’m forgetting or doing incorrectly. I don’t know.
There’s just something.
It’s that niggling feeling you get when you forget something and you have no clue what the hell you forgot? Mm-hmm.
Periodically, I’ve found myself going through the Fuck Yeah, Altars block over on Tumblr. Then, I’ll get completely verklempt over something before I decide that I need to go and check out Shrine Beautiful for some ideas or just to see what other people are doing. Periodically, my friends will post pictures of what they have going on. And I look and I think and I sigh and I wonder. And I peer at what I have going on with my altars and I’ll cock my head with an idea and then sigh and then wonder and then ignore it all and continue to peruse the pretty pictures.
There is something coming up here… something…
You see, I realized that I was beginning to feel dissatisfied with what I was seeing after I did my 9/11 Ritual last week. There was something about the event, itself, that changed me in an extraordinary way. I was basing my ritual or what I had in mind, at least, on imagery I had seen on various websites (two of which, you know, I liked above) as well as from other peoples’ altar photos whored all over the place. I wanted a sort of image akin to what Catholics do when they light their candles in remembrance of their loved ones. (Note to self: save some money, go to G-ma’s ex-church, and do that for her since she would probably really like that.) But, I also had the image of altars I had seen: big, huge monstrosities filled with candle light. And I was also thinking about those friends of mine. Those candle lit havens…
And I see the correlation with where I feel dissatisfied.
While I was doing some random chores around my house earlier, I thought back to what I had figured out about the Mindset I was in. It was the one where the religion part falls to the wayside while I get back on track with the
boringmundane. And while I was picking up the dogs’ water dish to wash it or at least give it a rinse and a refill, I couldn’t help but wonder if my general angst in regards to my altars had something to do with this whole Mindset. I didn’t think that the correlation here had much to do with the fact that I was falling behind or not focusing nearly as much. But, I began to think that maybe the whole thing had more to do with needing a spot for when I’m feeling the need to get down with my religion instead of just muttering some random prayers, putting on my related jewelry, and going about my day.
Can we get an ah-ha?
It’s really stupid and funny that I never made the connection before.
You see, back when that job was stealing my soul, my altar spaces were pretty much in my room. I had little things and whatnot that I did out and about in the house itself, but Sekhmet and Hetharu were in my bedroom. (This was before the Papa Legba ah-ha moment and before the surprise entrance of Hekate, of course.) And I often found it difficult to remember to do more than, “Oh, yeah. I forgot to give you an offering today, huh?” Or, do much more than, “darn, I swear I’ll remember to dust in here tomorrow.” I never bothered to do much more than the motions way back then, which should both comment on how tired I always was but also how I seemed to think that by claiming myself a devotee of these goddesses, then I didn’t have to do much more than a little here and there. And while I was very devout in various ways, other things just fell away. The motions stopped and I fell back into a deep, dark depression.
Isn’t it amazing how much faith and belief can keep your head above the water?
So, it was only relatively recently that I decided to move all altar spaces out of my bedroom. Even though I went in there every day to get clothes or go to bed, I couldn’t remember to even bring a cup of water into the room as an offering. So, I felt it was in my best interest as a practitioner of a religion in my own home to have places set about in a public venue so that I wouldn’t forget. Since they all came on out of the closet, so to speak, I’ve remembered much more easily about doing the daily trappings and this leads me into doing more intense trappings, like the ritual I posted a picture of above. Since I do the smaller bits, I want to do the larger bits.
Where am I going with this?
I’m beginning to think that my altar dissatisfaction has a larger bearing on the Mindset and how to keep out of it.