Healthy Self-Promotion

I hope my readers will forgive me a little bit of schilling for my new Etsy store.

You can find it at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/TwistedMagic

I’m selling miniature wire trees, perfect for altars! I’d also like to branch out into a little more stone and metal pagan artwork. Here’s a sample of my work:

apatite

Please think of me kindly if you know someone who needs a representation of the Tree for their altar!

Don’t Forget the Matches

I have so many great blog posts planned, including further (and much-belated) discussion of the silver issues the Ditzy Druid wrote about last week, but since I’m on the road at the moment, I want to talk traveling druidry.

As an ongoing effort to reboot my personal practice, I’ve taken a few steps. First, and most drastic, I’m taking one-month break from my grove. I’ve been far too caught up in organizing Druid Moon celebrations, helping people plan their High Day rites, and dealing with social conflict, and I’ve seriously neglected my private devotionals in the mean time. (That’s a topic for a longer blog post, probably: keeping one’s personal spiritual life alive when caught in group practice. Someone remind me to add that to the list.) Secondly, though, I decided to instate a twice-daily, morning/evening devotional. (I won’t say sunrise/sunset. I have a hard time with sunrise.)

The trouble is, I didn’t really think this new practice through. I said I’d start in September… and on the first of the September, I was at my parents’ home in Wisconsin. (In fact, I’m STILL in Wisconsin. I’ll be leaving before said under-appreciated sunrise tomorrow to go home.) I packed my travel altar, of course, but my travel altar is still a work in progress. We left Thursday afternoon, and, because I’m trying to get the habit ingrained—and because my husband isn’t afraid to nag me about my spiritual life—I decided to start my devotionals when we arrived at our hotel late Thursday night.

I quickly realized that I’d forgotten a few things, including one of the most important—matches.

Photo by Altus. Not shown: well, offering bowl, and notorious missing matches.

I continually find myself saying that our religion is experiential, and a travel altar is just one example of many. I spent that one a.m. devotional staring at an unlit candle. I’m also unhappy with my tealight-shell offering bowl: it just seems too temporary, too disposable. Plus, my candle-holder well is HUGE in comparison to my handmade wire tree (sadly, not shown well in this photo, taken by my husband).

In short, none of it appeals to my sense of aesthetics.

Still, the traveling altar is such a personal thing that I’m reluctant to buy one from the Magical Druid, delightful though their example is. My altar started (as some of you may remember) in a very ugly green craft-store tin, and it contained an ‘in-vitro’ cactus and a miniature tarot deck.

Today, I use a pretty wooden box I purchased at Goodwill, and I’ve moved away from using tarot in ritual. Instead of a questionable cactus, I use a miniature wire tree I constructed myself. I’ve also added a vial of water from my wedding altar Well and my Nine Virtues Devotional beads. I carry my aspen ogham staves separately, and Cei’s book will come with me until I’ve written my own morning and evening devotional prayers.

Why am I telling you all this, you ask?

Well, call it an introduction to construct-your-own-spirituality series of blog posts. We build our altars one piece at a time, adding things of beauty or spiritual significance as they come to us, and I think our practice as Druidry works the same way. Some traditions and practices will work for us, but others we will have to leave by the wayside for others to cherish. (Case in point: sunrise will likely never be the best devotional time for yours truly, and I accept that.)

And along the way, we’re likely to make mistakes. We may forget the matches and we may realize that some pieces, like my tin offering bowl, just don’t fit. But we don’t give up—we let go of what doesn’t work and we try again for things that do.

Still, we can learn from others’ mistakes, so take my advice: don’t forget the matches.

Worn-In Spirituality

You know your favorite pair of jeans? The ones you always reach for that are maybe just a smidge too big, nice and loose and comfy, well-worn around the cuffs and stretched out to fit you perfectly?

My altar is starting to become like those jeans. What started as a spare little table with candles, a well, and a tree has become a real spiritual home to me, one that soothes me and shows its use and is a reflection of my spiritual life. The $10 table now has some burn spots from escaped incense. The candles are burned in. A few crystals from my collection have migrated to my altar, not so much because I’m ‘charging’ them or using them for spellwork, but because they add beauty and focus to my personal grove.

I wanted to look for representations, but they seem to come to me of their own volition. There’s a little bloodstone I dedicated to Athena that came to me, as described in an earlier post. A little white stone horse I dedicated to Rhiannon I found in my jewelry box, a gift from an old boyfriend I remade as a spiritual vessel. The wand I made, decorated with green agate beads and golden bells is for Manannan mac Lir. The ancestors are present in the silver Celtic knot my great-grandfather made.

Other things collect there, too. The worry beads I bought in Athens rest there, something to handle while I meditate. My flower crown from Beltane hangs from a shelf. A scrap of maypole fabric serves as an LED-candle mat. The tiny Druid prints my mother bought me sit on a shelf, as well, adding more beauty and depth. A basket beneath the table holds my incense and offerings.

The altar, I think, is an outward manifestation of my inner spiritual life. Have you heard Christians talk about faith as pure and simple as a child’s? No questions, just honest and innocent belief.

That’s a lovely thought, but I don’t think our faith is so streamlined. We’re eclectic, even if not intentionally. We don’t have one source for our faith, nor do we have one method of expression. Our faith is worn in, chosen and developed over years of practice. We find our personal patrons, or they come to us, and we make them a home in our personal practice. This is where the action over faith debate comes to an end: faith is all well and good, but it’s action that defines it. It’s action that wears in our personal religion, makes it a real part of our lives.

How have you worn in your spirituality?

Photos and Altar and Jewelry, Oh My!

Remember how I’ve expressed some dissatisfaction with my altar? Well, I’m in the process of fixing it. I’ve added some shelves above the little table to give myself some space for representations (when I get some) and my prayer books.

Major hugs to Altus, my fiancé, for hanging these shelves on a wall that turned out to be made of painted plywood.

You see there on the shelves the druidic artwork my mother sent me, and my wreath to wear on Beltane! We made these at our last grove meeting. I’m quite proud of mine… I think it’s pretty. The dark red poppy goes in front, with the ribbons in back (obviously). There’s a dragonfly on there too. We’ll wear these during the maypole, and possibly during the ritual itself.

Wow, looking at these photos, I realize they show the age of my digital camera. Yuck. It might be time to update. Just pretend you can see a lovely photo of my full altar, complete with shelves.

I’ve also set up a little mini-altar over my stove for Brigid and have set a black bear statue outside my door as a guardian of the threshold.

Even more fun? I’ve been making wrapped-wire Celtic jewelry. Here’s two-thirds of a triskele pendant, an unfinished silver ring, and a finished copper and green lapis ring. They’re super fun to make and quite wearable to boot. I also think I could make little silver triskeles or spirals to make for occasional offerings.

You can also see my bloody thumbnail there… Working with wire can be hazardous.

I do love it when my hobbies can dovetail with my spiritual life. It’s another form of integration of the mundane with the magickal, and that makes the hobby even more special.