Sacred Space–An Every Day Altar

I started a project today that has me thinking a lot about sacred space, and how that means different things to different people. And while I was thinking about that, I took a picture of one of the altars in my house. It’s the altar that I think is the least obvious as an altar–though admittedly the cauldron is probably a dead giveaway to anyone who is even slightly aware of the existence of religions outside of the Abrahamic realm. What do you think?

This altar is the biggest one in the house as well, because it sprawls over a space that is also utilitarian; the place where I keep the tea pots and the big serving bowls, a couple of mortar and pestles, a few random pieces of pottery I’ve picked up here and there over the years, and–sometimes–produce that I don’t want to put in the fridge..

I see this altar as a tribute to the sacred nature of every day objects, of every day life, of family. What you see is a culmination of many varieties of creativity–the bottles on the right hold home brewed beer made by my husband and home brewed lavender wine from a local farm. The jars on the right hold dried herbs–hawthorn flowers from my own yard, rose petals, jasmine flowers–and a jar of home-canned peaches in honey syrup. I created the twig creatures that preside over the altar, collected the pine cones up the road, made the smudge fan from locally collected wild Turkey feathers. Stones from the yard and the ocean, leaves pressed in my journal, gifts from friends and the children, photos of family both living and departed . . . everything on this altar is common, every day, well loved. But somehow I find the combination powerful–a testament to many lives twined together in community and family, lives that create useful and beautiful things.

And back to my thoughts about how what is sacred varies from person to person–I’d like to issue an invitation to you all. The idea isn’t my own, I’m stealing it from Terri Windling’s “On Your Desk” series. I’d love to see YOUR sacred spaces, whatever they are, and to hear from you what makes them sacred. I plan to post pictures of more of my altars–I really do have several of them, I can’t seem to stop myself–and maybe some other places that I find especially sacred. I’d love for this to be, instead of a one-woman show, an opportunity for us to see many different versions of sacred space. And your sacred space doesn’t have to be an altar. It can be a room, a garden, a place in the wild, a house of worship, anything–what is sacred to you?

If you want to be included, send an email to michelle [dot] simkins [at] gmail.com, with your photo and a brief explanation if you wish. Include how you want your name to appear, or if you wish to remain anonymous, and maybe what part of the country you’re in–and if there’s a website or blog you want me to link to, include that as well.

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9 thoughts on “Sacred Space–An Every Day Altar

  1. Thanks for sharing your altar, Michelle! Love the picture, and your thoughts on what is sacred. I’ve been reading more about creating sacred space lately, and working on de-cluttering, so thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  2. Enjoy seeing your altar. Made me smile to see and read I am not the only one with a sacred space that is home to tea cups, pots and misc., those items of use or enjoyment that are sacred in their own way. My altar of family, Mother Nature & items used in what I see as ritual with their use in my kitchen.
    I am in the midst of rearranging my spot which my wee ones see as a place to put things they “were not sure where to put it” behavior. Our new home has a “wine glass” hutch shelving which was the very first space to be filled when moving in. My bits of treasured finds, displaying of our often used mixed tea ware & jars of flours, sugar, oats,etc.{Now being transformed into an Apothacrey of sorts}. I will back to email you for inclusion of my spot picture…after the clean up of course.
    Lovely post on sharing sacred spaces.

    1. Thanks Tammie! It is a bit of a challenge to keep the kids from just piling random things on this spot, but as they get older they get better about it.

      Also, I will definitely look forward to seeing and sharing your pictures when they arrive. 🙂

  3. Michelle. Your article inspires me to “dress” my altar for Ostara / Easter. It is time for renewal as spring approaches. As I look at your altar I realize how many different altars I have about my home. Some are quite innocuous. You would never imagine them to be anything more than “knick knacks” or twigs and pebbles from the garden. I will send you pictures of what comes from your inspirational article.

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