A Shining Hearth

As a prologue to the next “30 Episodes of Spirituality” post, I wanted to share a little bit about my shrines and how I keep them.

I have several shrines in a very small space (1 room, really). I have my personal shrine, which is small right now as I reorganize some furniture; I have a State Shrine, where I serve my Parents as a W’ab priest; I have an Akhu shrine, where I offer to and reflect upon my ancestors; I have a shrine for my Beloveds, Bast and Nut; I have a shrine for the Gods of the Year; I have a shrine for Heru-wer and Set as the Bawy; I have a shrine for the Theban triad; and I have a small (teensy!) shrine for Djehuty.

Shrines in my home. L-R: state shrine, akhu shrine, beloveds shrine.

My purpose with any shrine is two-fold. For myself, I want to establish a point of reflection on the Names I am honoring. For the Names, I want to create a comfortable point of focus for our interaction. I don’t delude myself to believe that the altar or shrine will be the sole place of interaction between the Names and I, by any means, but the shrine is a tangible representation of the presence of the Names in my life.

Sometimes there are certain requirements for the shrines – the State shrine has particular requirements to fulfill my priestly duties, for example – but when I am building a shrine I fill it with what I believe the Names would appreciate – small tokens, offering dishes, jewelry and other items. Bast’s shrine has Her image, a tambourine, green stones, and a waterfall. Nut’s shrine has blue stones, coins, sparkling glass, feathers, and an image to represent Her. The Akhu shrine has things which remind me of my ancestors – objects belonging to my deceased family members, or objects that could have belonged to them (a hymnal, rosary beads, a bracelet of my grandmothers, to start) – as well as items that honor Kemetic ancestors.

Even though they might look disorganized or muddled, or like thrown-together piles of kitsch, my shrines are where I can go to put myself wholly in Their space. They take on a certain resonance for consistently being exposed to purity and sacredness in my daily worship. They become little glowing hearths, even when darkened, providing respite from the blistering pace of the secular world. I suspect that’s what makes them really special – not so much what I put on them (purity and functional requirements withstanding), but the fact that I attend to them regularly, that I honor the gods there regularly, and that I open a vector for sacred space there.

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