is for honoring
One of the things I think is important is acknowledging we’re all in relationship with one another. A gratitude practice certainly keeps that in the forefront of consciousness. Gratitude says I’m grateful for how this is showing up for me; how you are present; how I can receive what you are offering. This is a blessing and I acknowledge it.
I love this teaching from Connie Kaplan in her Invisible Garment book:
“If one gives visual attention to something, one grants beingness to that thing. By seeing it, one gives it life. Conversely, the observed thing has to send a visual clue back to the observer; it has to send its light toward the seer’s eyes; otherwise, one cannot grant it visual focus.”
How perfect is that – the seer and the one seen.
Perhaps that’s part of why I like touchstones and amulets so much – physical reminders that focus my attention. And that’s certainly the intention when I build an altar. A place to focus my attention – to be open to receiving, and to give back with my attention and gratitude.
Reciprocity is important to me. Not thing-for-thing exact exchange like an accountant’s balance sheet. Sometimes it’s a thank you in the moment. Sometimes it something that looks a bit different.
When totems come forward and work deeply with me, I always look for a way that feels delicious to my heart to say thank you. One year when Crow was really blessing me with deeper psychopomp teachings, it also happened to be the year when the West Nile Virus decimated the crow population in my state. I did a year long mailart project, each month creating some tribute to my beloved crow friends. I am blessed with Bee medicine and I speak constantly about the damage pesticides are causing. I support local honey producers working with organic methods. You get the idea. It feels fair. It says I honor and acknowledge you. I am grateful.
I mentioned earlier that the Inuit sea goddess Sedna has stepped forward to dance with me this month and share her wisdom. There are many versions of the tale of how Sedna, a mortal woman, becomes a goddess, but crucial to all of them is that her dismembered fingers are turned into the sea creatures – whales and walruses, seals and fish.
As I do every month I create an altar for the goddess I’m working with. Sometimes they’re big and elaborate, sometimes they’re small, but they almost always evolve over the course of the month as my connection and understanding grow. They are my way of honoring and showing gratitude for what I receive.
Here’s my altar so far:
Sometimes, as in this case, I like to use wooden cigar boxes. I love cigar boxes in general – wood, boxes, what’s not to love?! They’re great for portability and you can set them up anywhere. In this case, I like the symbolism that a closed box represents – dark like the depths of Sedna’s sea, and yet now opened where we can see her as sovereign. I’ve used a wave-like pattern to decorate the top and put up the Sedna card from lovely Dark Goddess Tarot deck by Ellen Lorenzi-Prince. I almost always include flowers on all of my altars, but in this case I thought it would be appropriate to include the beautiful Carrier Shell I caretake – a shell on which other shells attached themselves. Each is beautiful, but the lacy coral-like shell at the top looks like a lovely little bouquet doesn’t it? Then there’s the glass whale, which is sitting on a glass bowl filled with a bit of water. And the dark crescent shaped thing is a sacred fossil – the inner ear bone of a whale. I light the candle and spend some time with Sedna each morning and then listen for her whisperings during throughout the day.
And what about you? What whisperings are you listening to? Who are you honoring? What are you grateful for today? Do tell – you know I love to hear.