Creating an Altar is building an invitation…
I like spaces that have no other function except to create a sacred conversation. A sacred space is an invitation. Creating an altar in this space is like scooting over on a park bench and patting the seat next to us. It is the open arms. It is receiving.
It is saying, “Sit with me. I want your presence. Join me. I honor you.” It is an acknowledgement that there is something greater in our lives, and we dance with it, that great ‘whatever it is’. It is a reminder that life is more than the grocery list and the clothes that need to be folded and the annual review. With an altar, we invite the mystery.
But first, we need the why.
Once you have decided what you want your altar to be about, you can then decide how constructing your altar makes a symbolic statement that attracts the energy you intend. If you want Aphrodite to come and bless you with love, you know you better make a space honoring her beautifully!
The cool thing is that you can have as many altars as you want! As long as you have the space, you can create one. And you don’t need much, I’ve even heard of matchbox altars!
Location is the second aspect to creating intentional sacred space. It does not have to be big, but it has to be special and used just for that purpose. Perhaps a small table (or upturned cardboard box, even) in an unused corner of your room. Make sure that the place you choose honors the intention you are setting for the altar. By that I mean you probably don’t want your altar in a busy hallway. Make it special. Make it sacred.
Cleaning and Clearing
Once you have chosen your location, give it a good cleaning. Then, clear it using sage, ringing a bell, sprinkling some Florida water or even just saying a prayer. Healthy energy loves a clean and cleared space.
After you have your spot picked, cleaned and cleared it is time to decorate.
Since an altar is a sacred invitation, think about what items you wish to place in order to invite the Gods, Energy, Intention, or Ancestors in.
What I love about altar creation is that the magic is in the placement of items rather than the items themselves.
You can rummage through your shelves, go to the thrift store, or find things on your walk that, when placed carefully and thoughtfully, take on a special meaning all on their own.
You can decide whether to leave food or not, it’s totally up to you.
Now that you have your beautiful altar, what are you going to do with it? Sacred space must match sacred intention, so this is a relationship of sorts; don’t just set it and forget it.
Many people use altar space to meditate, to pray, to create intentions, to write, or just to spend a quick minute thinking about whatever it is that the altar’s reason is for being. Interact with your altar.
Allow your space to shift the spaces within you.
One thing that is important to remember is that an altar needs to be serviced. Keep your altar clean, update the items as needed or replace any perishable items regularly.
An altar helps with the flow of qi, that universal energy in everything but if an altar becomes neglected, the qi stagnates which is the exact opposite of what you want.
Energy goes where your focus goes. An altar can be a physical reminder to focus or invite, energy into your life in some way. “If you build it, they will come.” Creating altars builds your spiritual life, makes you aware of Presence, and helps you navigate the mystery in your life.
Demeter, Goddess of the Earth and mother to Persephone, grows depressed. In her grief, she allows nothing to grow. The world burdens under a land bare and quiet.
This is the time of the Dark Goddess, the Queen of the Underworld.
These seeds are often self-sabotaging thoughts, beliefs, or behaviors that work against our own growth.
They undermine us when we keep repeating, “I am okay. I am okay. I am okay.” While not getting on the scale, not opening the credit card statement, not opening the text, not breaking up with someone toxic. It is the mantra of kidding ourselves because we are scared.
A dark seed loves ignorance. A dark seed convinces us to pretend that problems aren’t real until those very problems threaten to undermine us. Swathed in darkness we become ‘comfortably numb’ to the quality of being alive. We adjust to accepting a life that is mere fragments of what we know we are capable of. We allow childhood conditioning capsize our sense of worth and work.
During this Dark Time, from the 23rd of September until the winter solstice on December 21st use this time to identify, truly and bravely identify, your 6 dark seeds.
Seed Number One:
Identify one internalized belief from childhood that has undermined your sense of worth.
Example: “My Mom was a neat freak growing up and I just can’t measure up to her housekeeping. I feel like a lazy person who is unable to keep anything nice.”
Seed Number Two:
Identify one self-belief that actively discourages you from reaching towards your goals.
Example: “I will never be thin. I have been overweight my whole live and, well, I am just not one of ‘those’ people.”
Seed Number Three:
Identify any area where you are being willfully ignorant. This could be your health, your finances, a relationship, or something else.
Example: “I am desperately unhappy in my marriage. But I can’t ruin the kids’ lives and I don’t want to end up broke and alone in a crappy apartment.”
Seed Number Four:
Identify one belief that is negative and malicious. This could be a belief about yourself, someone else, or an aspect in the world. You usually can recognize these when you use “all” or “nothing” statements.
Example: “I am always the fuck up.” “Humans are horrible.” “Wall St. bankers should be hung.” “Carla must be sleeping with the boss.”
Seed Number Five:
Identify something (or someone) that you are jealous about.
Example: “My sister has more money than me and I just know she looks down on me.” “I am sure his success was by luck alone.” “How did they deserve a house like that?”
Seed Number Six:
Identify a bigoted belief regarding another class, race, political affiliation or action.
Example, “People who litter are ignorant, selfish people.”
Usually, if we examine our seeds closely, we can see that they are often tied to one another. The seeds run in currents and themes, often closely related to one another.
By identifying these dark seeds, we start to become aware of the nature of the Underworld Queen: that shadowy, greedy aspect of ourselves that we are not proud of. Often we shove her down as much as we can and other times she rises up to make us into aspects of ourselves that can shock us.
So let us peer into the dark together.
See the trauma in them.
See how a family culture and models influenced you before you could question them.
Peering at your seeds starts to dismantle them.
Looking at your dark seeds without judgement begins to break shame.
Being kind to yourself (and others) during this process helps you stay open. As your eyes adjust to the darkness, you will see how the seeds will grow into something revealing about your Underworld Queen (or King).
Journal The Descent
Right now, all I want you to do is to identify your seeds. Get curious about them. Watch how they show up in your life. Grab a journal and jot down when you catch a dark seed in action. This is a mindfulness activity. You aren’t going to go head to head with them just yet. During this dark time, until the Solstice, jot down when you notice them.
If you feel overwhelmed by that process, take one Dark Seed and work with watching it for 2 weeks. Then, choose another to observe.
“Just as Persephone, the Goddess of spring, now descends to meet her husband in the underworld. I, too, am heeding the call to peer into my own darkness. I ask that my eyes adjust to the dim.
I ask that my mind and heart be brave and open, curious and thorough by what I find there. I know that without winter, there is no spring, without darkness we cannot truly be bright. During this dark time I allow its lessons to open me, shake me, and nudge me into the life long process that is becoming human.”
If you are comfortable with it, keep the candle lit until it burns all the way down. If not, then light it every consecutive night until it is done.
I might follow up with an activity for you for Halloween (but I am not sure yet). Or I will definitely follow up with work on the winter solstice. Don’t worry, I am not going to leave you hanging. I want to give you plenty of time.
Don’t rush this.
This Is Tough Work
If you feel like you cannot do this alone, please reach out to me, or speak to a trusted advisor or therapist. If you feel this might be too intense for you right now, put it away for another time.
In the Dark, holding hands with you,
About a million years ago I thought I met my soul mate. The energy between us was electric and I found an incredible resonance and connection with him that I had never felt before. It was like two trains colliding on a track. Our sparks were intense, our conversations long, and with him, I have an incredible intuition about: I knew if he was sick and if he was unhappy. Had he asked me for a kidney, I would have gladly handed one over. I could not breathe for the intense chemistry between us; it crackled like static in the air around us.
Our love story included war, international intrigue, and it also included my apparent ability to fix the things wrong in his life. It is a potent mix when we self-appoint ourselves as the healer of the twin flame in our lives. Like the constellations above, what I was here for and what we were meant to do together was laid out by the heavens. Right?
Because of this incredible energetic connection, I ignored so many red flags.
So. Many. Red. Flags.
Because… there was a reason we met, right? Why would I feel so strongly and deeply for someone if we weren’t meant to be? Sure, he had all these problems. Sure, his story didn’t match up. Sure, my heart skipping a beat was from insecurity and fear instead of joy. None of that mattered because he was my soul mate, my twin flame, he was destiny finally laid down by the Universe and my long search for meaning was over!
You know where this is going.
It all ended in the worst possible way. It lasted YEARS longer than it should have. I paid a price that changed my life trajectory in ways that reverberate even now. I finally ended it when I was too tired to be scared, too tired to feel the fear of abandonment, too tired to worry about money. I was tired in my skin and tired in my bones, even my bone marrow was tired.
I was exhausted from all the red flags I refused to consider. I was oppressed and beat down by the soul mate who demanded my very soul. I compromised huge tracts of my self-worth and dignity as payment for this soul mate. Until finally, one day, the fever broke and I got the hell out. Not without cost. Not without a tremendous sense of loss.
Here’s the thing, though, I do believe he is my soul mate, even today. I can still feel him when I tune in. There is something about the connection that is ever vibrant. Even though we no longer talk, I am absolutely certain that we are connected on a level that is below primal, it is instinctual.
I believe that there are people we have a true soul connection to. From another life, another dimension, another impossible magical way wherein we know we know that person, soul to soul. And the shock of that recognition and inner knowing is so powerful, it is so incredibly overwhelming that we will do almost anything to keep it. We come to believe that the electrocution that engulfs our heart means something more.
But just because we feel a soul connection with someone does not then mean we are meant to paint that picket fence and call it a day.
Chemistry does not equal commitment.
Energetic resonance does not mean ‘I do.”
Over the years I have come to understand that the term soul mate or twin flame is misleading. While we recognize each other soul to soul, these souls of ours are housed in biological bodies. These physical bodies have personalities, cultures, histories and karmic work to be done in this lifetime. Like a hermit crab, we are only housed here temporarily. And while my soul and his soul knew one another we both had personalities, temperaments and work that meant we were not here to facilitate each other’s domestic or romantic fantasies.
A soul mate is not here to fulfill our romantic aspirations.
A soul mate is not here to facilitate a biological partnership.
A soul mate is here to teach a lesson.
You and I have many soul mates. In fact, I prefer the term soul-connected. And, these soul-connected individuals usually have deep lessons to teach us about love, about loss, about our own power and our ethics.
Sometimes these soul-connected are here to teach us about evil, or selfishness, or temptation. All is not right and good with what our soul-connected may offer, but they will offer something significant and real, rich and intense.
If you are entangled with a ‘soul mate’ — but otherwise, there are as many red flags as the day is long — ask yourself, what is the lesson? Ask yourself, what aspects of myself am I suppressing in order to have this? Ask yourself, does this soul mate bring out the best, the healthiest, does he or she bring out the best in me?
Be honest. Be unflinching. Be brave.
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