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.

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