2/13 — Little altars everywhere.

Everyone has a place that’s sacred to them, and every place there is, is sacred to someone.

Some people find the sacred in buildings set aside for it — churches and cathedrals, mosques and synagogues, temples and shrines.

Others feel it in things of beauty, or of deep meaning to them — a musician in the sound of a symphony, an artist in her paints.

Others still find it in nature — the deep green woods, the sweeping plains, the heights of the mountains.

That’s me, nature girl that I am. And when I really need to renew, refresh, re-start, I head outside. And I wanted to celebrate this.

I’ve been thinking a lot about altars recently — go ahead and read those links, I’ll still be here when you get back — and the two ideas came together Wednesday, as I hiked the woods of Evansburg Park here in Worcester.

The path I walked is a mile loop, long enough to lose myself for a while. And when the mood took me, when it felt right, I stopped to build an altar.

I built them under trees and on stumps, on cut branches and logs and stones.

I used what I found within arms’ reach or a few steps, chose what caught my eye and lingered in my hands. Moss and stones and nuts and feathers, twigs and leaves and the earth itself.

I was drawn especially to the logs and cut stumps — wanting, perhaps, to heal the scars left in the earth.

I don’t know if any of them are still there. I suspect that some, at least, have already been carried off by the wind, or by opportunistic squirrels.

It doesn’t matter. They’re not there for posterity. It was the making of them that was important, not their permanence or the lack of it.

Where do you find the sacred? And do you build altars?

14 Comments on “2/13 — Little altars everywhere.”


  1. Oh, yes. I especially like this line: ” … chose what caught my eye and lingered in my hands”.

    Maggie on 13 Feb 2012, 11:23 am (Link | Reply)

    • What’s important to us doesn’t always manifest in its appearance. (I know you know that, but sometimes it needs sayin’ anyways.)

      Kate on 13 Feb 2012, 3:15 pm (Link | Reply)

  2. I find the act of giving service — be it to another human, or a dog, to be my sacred space. It brings me the truest joy of anything, anywhere.

    DwenjustDwen on 13 Feb 2012, 10:04 pm (Link | Reply)

    • Ooh, I love this. So true, and so very _you_, too, Dwen.

      Kate on 13 Feb 2012, 10:25 pm (Link | Reply)

  3. Not so much in the literal world, but there are times when my imagination takes a turn at building them. On Grandpa T’s farm there were lots of pecan and hickory nut trees. I put wreaths of them around the bases to thank the squirrels for sharing.

    Regina Krause on 14 Feb 2012, 8:28 pm (Link | Reply)

    • Hee! Yeah, I’m pretty sure a few of my ‘offerings’ were promptly devoured, too.

      And in the imagination…yes, and we’ve got one of those in common, too, don’t we?

      Kate on 14 Feb 2012, 10:14 pm (Link | Reply)

  4. I have three kinds of sacred spaces. One is permanent, one is immediate, and one is found. My ‘permanent’ kind is found in several areas inside and outside my house. With both of us being roughly ‘pagan’ if we had to be labeled, Jon and I have an altar space that we keep items that are special and spiritual on. It gets changed several times a year, partly to honour the seasons, partly because I feel that to simply set up a space like that and never touch it isn’t very in tune with a belief system that honours change! We also have a couple smaller spaces inside, and some outside that each year get a little bit closer to looking like they’re supposed to be there, although our entire yard follows a belief in honouring the earth; planting only plants that naturally thrive and putting in plants that shelter and feed birds, insects, etc.

    Temporary spaces are when I simply need a minute – NOW. At school, in the library – wherever. If I can find a space to sit or stand for a minute and simply breathe, it’s a sacred space. Sometimes I get surprise temporary spaces – I’m in the car when a really really meaningful song comes on, or something I see, hear, smell, feel is just ‘right’, just for that moment.

    Found spaces are most often in more natural areas, although not always. They’re places that look and feel to me as if some deity had just paused there for a minute and made all the plants grow towards it, the rocks reflect it… whatever happens to be there feels simultaneously like it just happened and as if an incredibly gifted artist placed everything to convey meaning. Sometimes it’s a place I’m pretty sure is going to be that way for a while, and I get to visit more than once. Sometimes it’s also a surprise – a rainbow or a single flower or something transient makes that place what it is for the moment.

    So those are my sacred spaces, and if I was on my own computer I could send a few pics at least of my alter and my yard, but for the moment, it’ll have to wait. Awesome topic – I can’t wait to see what other people post, and I love your little altars!!!!!!!

    Alikina on 16 Feb 2012, 7:07 pm (Link | Reply)

    • Ooh, I love those found places. Sometimes I think they’re the best kind. (And yes, pictures, if you get there, would be awesome — feel free to post em to the Facebook page if you like so everyone can see!)

      Kate on 17 Feb 2012, 10:03 am (Link | Reply)

  5. My immediate sacred spaces are definitely in the outside! Running water, sweeping expanses of field; anything that makes me remember how grand life is. Although, sometimes, inside, I feel the need to get the incense out and really focus on creating a calm atmosphere.
    These altars remind me of coming across little ‘made’ things when walking in the woods – it’s always part shock, part thrill to think that somebody walked this way already and set this down, that somebody took the time to make-a-space in appreciation and gratitidue.

    Amelia Jane on 17 Feb 2012, 4:43 am (Link | Reply)

    • I’ve been kinda quietly hoping that someone (other than the squirrels) would find my altars and appreciate them (though around here, we’re as likely to get alarmist article in the paper about satanic rituals and such, alas).

      Kate on 17 Feb 2012, 10:02 am (Link | Reply)

  6. How beautiful and inspiring this post is! By the way, I have looked through your items for sale and cannot wait to order from you. I will be placing an order soon as a reward to myself for doing the show I did over the weekend — it was a lot of work to get ready, but I did it, I had a great time, I met new customers, and therefore I must reward myself. Love your site. Love your blog.

    Laurel on 19 Mar 2012, 2:05 am (Link | Reply)

    • Shows _are_ a bunch of work. I had one this weekend, and another one coming up — I just hope I get a chance to get some sleep in with all the preparation!

      Thank you for your kind words about my site and my stuff. :)

      Kate on 19 Mar 2012, 11:04 am (Link | Reply)

  7. I’m going to have to think about this one a bit. I have many things I hold sacred and I do admire altars but I’ve never built one. Good food for thought :)

    Ruthie on 17 Apr 2012, 11:11 pm (Link | Reply)

    • I’d love to see (or hear about) what you come up with! I’m finding my inside altar to be a _really_ good focus for whatever I’m working on at the moment.

      Kate on 18 Apr 2012, 12:19 pm (Link | Reply)

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