On Saturday a wonderful package arrived in the mail. It was a commission I ordered from artist Marcy Hall (see her Sacred Artist Interview) of my two beloved animal companions — Duke who died over two years ago and Tune who is of course alive and well. When I discovered Marcy's delightful art, I knew she would be the right person to create an icon to honor the role that canine wisdom plays in my life. I also adore the tree of life in the center with crows and the full moon.
In front of the altar are various seasonal symbols I have gathered from my prayer walks, including a rattle, a chestnut that opened in a perfect triad, the two feathers from my retreat, a stained glass cross given to me by a former directee, a candle holder given to me by a dear friend, a shell from my time at the hermitage last year, and an ammonite I purchased while in Salzburg this summer as a way of remembering the ancient stories of places.
In the photo below it you can see my whole altar space. It is set up over my secretary desk in my prayer corner by the windows. This desk was from my father's side of the family and has traveled from Austria to New York to California to Seattle. To the left of the triptych is a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe that belonged to my mother and to the right is my chiming moon phase clock. Each half hour the gentle bell reminds me to return to the present moment. Hanging on the wall above my altar are two icons from Miska (her interview is here). In between the icons hangs a mirror with butterflies on the frame that also belonged to my mother and a Northwest native american carved butterfly. In the mirror you can see the reflection of one of two wall hangings I got on Inishmor, one of the Aran Islands in Ireland the summer before last of a druid and the goddess Eire who flank my prayer space.
What does your altar and sacred space look like at this time of year?
For a beautiful reflection on "a gathering of spirits" visit Jan Richardson's blog The Painted Prayerbook. I had the absolute delight of meeting Jan and her beloved for lunch when they were in Seattle last week! (see Jan's interview here).
-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts
** Make sure to visit this week's POETRY PARTY in honor of our ancestors **