The English word altar comes from the Latin word altare, which means “high.” An altar is an elevated structure or place dedicated to honoring and communing with the gods. Altars and shrines have been found throughout this world since the beginning of humankind; from the ancient temples of Egypt and Greece, to the stone circles of the Celtic Nations, from all major African regions to the Americas and from the far east Himalayas to the Mongolian mountain regions, the altar is an integral aspect of spiritual communication. An altar is a holy place inhabited by the Divine where the devotee or worshipper can commune with and petition to gods, deities, spirits and ancestors. In ancient times, altars were commonly large stones, raised wooden structures, trees, and other natural edifices that were deemed as a holy or sacred place. Altars are commonly dedicated to specific gods or goddesses, benevolent spirits, for one’s ancestors, recently passed loved ones, holidays, and even for specific causes or movements.
Personal altars are demonstrations of a belief and trust between the physical earth and the spiritual world. Creating an altar where you reside is an empowering way to create a sacred space within your home as a place of prayer, meditation, worship, and reflection. In essence, your altar should be a portal to the otherworldly. Altars can be made out of anything, in or outdoors, as long as they are consecrated as sacred spaces and kept that way with preservation and care.
Many create altars on special tables, shelves, cabinets or create an entire shrine space in a corner of their home. Altars can be intricate and elaborate, but they can also be simple and humble, as the intention is what is most important. Altars can be permanent, temporary or even travel-sized. Altars are typically dressed and decorated according to their specific purposes. Altars can be adorned with but are not limited to statues, figurines, photos, candles, flowers, gemstones, crystals, heirlooms and other special sacred artifacts. The aesthetic, placement and contents of the altar are completely up to each individual. What matters is that one connects with their own altar and will cultivate a relationship with this space but also with its intention.
Offerings are left on the altar to propitiate and please certain deities or spirits. Altar offerings vary from incense, burning herbs, food, drinks, money, flowers, fruits, plants, trinkets and various other treasures. Offerings are left according to what deity or spirit one is working with, as Divine entities prefer different things. For example, if someone you love has passed on, leave an offering of their favorite treat during special times or when you may desire their presence or guidance.
In The Medicine Wheel, Sun Bear and Wabun put forth a whole new system of earth astrology to help guide people not only in their daily living but also in their life paths. In the authors' own words, this book was written to "help all people relate better to our Earth Mother...and find a kinship with the universe." The Medicine Wheel is a beautiful and inspiring approach to graceful, holistic living in trying modern times. The Medicine Wheel's philosophy is derived from a basic principle known by all people who live close to the earth: Once you fully embrace the elemental forces of nature, you become a part of the whole. Let this book be your first step toward finding peace and prosperity -- and your own special place in the circle of life.
We perform ceremonies to mark important events and celebrate holidays―yet our modern approach to ceremony only scratches the surface of its true potential. With The Book of Ceremony, shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman presents a rich and practical resource for creating ceremonies filled with joy, purpose, and magic. "We are hungry to connect with more than what we experience with our ordinary senses in the material world," writes Sandra. The Book of Ceremony is more than a "how-to" guide―it will inspire you to create original ceremonies tailored to your own needs and the needs of your community. When you invoke the sacred power of ceremony, you tap into one of the oldest and most effective tools for transforming both yourself and the world. As Sandra writes, "If you perform one powerful and successful ceremony for yourself, the principle of oneness ensures that all of life heals and evolves."
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