We’ve probably all come across sacred places or places of power. Sometimes they are in the natural world, in the wilds of ancient forest, on a mountain peak, under a waterfall. It is a place where we feel the spirits so strongly that everything within us gets elevated. Our energy field and chakras expand, we may receive communication from Spirit and etheric beings through our senses. The same thing can happen in places like temples, churches, gardens, even in the presence of works of art.
These sacred places are also available to us every day in our homes and yards. We create and cultivate places of power in our own personal spaces where we do spiritual work like journey, meditate, pray, compose art and music, and where we nurture ourselves and others.
Setting up an altar in our home creates a sacred space for us and nourishes our spiritual side. It literally makes a space for it in our lives. It acknowledges and calls in the Spirit helpers and teachers that we have relationships with, as well as those we want to develop relationships with in the future. It is a space to create magic, drawing in or sending out healing, holding the focus for intentions, honoring our journey. It is also a place to create meaningful beauty. It changes and focuses energies in the room, in the building, and on the land. I think of them as spiritual power generators.
There are an infinite number of ways to create altars. We can follow a formula and assemble ritual objects in certain areas of the space, as is the case when setting up a Wiccan altar or a Mesa from a Peruvian tradition. Or we can assemble them with any objects that are meaningful to us that we are guided to use.
Some have specific uses and may be temporary in nature, such as ancestor altars that we may set up on or near November 1st for All Souls Day. Near that time of the year I set up pictures of family members, loved ones and pets who have crossed over. Then I surround them with offerings of flowers, a little food and drink, and gifts they may have given me. Another temporary altar is a grief altar, which helps us acknowledge and process through a time of grieving. When we feel that the time is right, we may disassemble them with gratitude and closure. Some people make their ancestor altar a permanent part of the space and honor them as part of their daily practice. I also always set up an altar when I am teaching a workshop. Not only does it hold the intention of the class, but also energetically charges the objects and supplies for the class. The beauty of altars is that we make them to fulfill whatever we need in our spiritual lives.
My first altar thirty some years ago was very small, a spot on my dresser for special stones and other objects. I didn’t even realize it was an altar until much later. Then I moved it to its own space with intention. As my practice expanded, so did my altars. One is dedicated to the Goddess, another to Reiki healing, one is a Mesa. I keep a seasonal family altar in the living room and even my car has grown a portable one around the dashboard composed of feathers, stones, shells, sacred herbs and oils. They are all energetically connected and fed by my main altar where I sit in daily meditation and journey connecting to Spirit.
When we work with an altar, they become places of power. Our blessings, gratitude, prayers, intentions set up a beacon that draws in power from our spirit helpers and beings that love us. The objects on and around them increase in power as we use them. The definition of power that I am using here is a place where benevolent and beneficial Spirits gather or dwell. It is energy that enlivens, elevates, heals and strengthens. It expands and adds to our well-being. We in turn can share that energy as we do our work out in the world.
Eventually we realize that the power of our altar is embodied within us. We are our sacred space.
My autumn Mabon altar this year
Long before I started my formal training in energy medicine or shamanic work, I resonated with the Goddess and nature traditions. I paid attention to the cycles of the moon, and to the seasons in the wheel of the year.
I wanted to give my daughter that way of seeing the natural world too. When she was little she loved to mark the new moon and the full moon with me. On the new moon we would go around the house opening the windows and doors and smudge every room with sage, saying goodbye to all the old stale energy. We would sing songs and our dogs would follow us like it was a parade. On the full moon we would carefully carry a candle throughout the house into each room welcoming in the light and its blessings. As she got older, she lost interest, so I let that ritual go. And that was okay, it gave her the foundation that I wanted her to have. And it gave me a consistency that I needed in my moon rituals then, plus a lot of sweet memories.
In my own practice my attention would fluctuate. Sometimes I would pay attention to the moon phases and how they matched up with my moon cycles. Often I would do short ceremonies or write out intentions with the new and the full moon, but not every month. Other times it was more of a mental tracking as I got more into astrology and followed the moon’s trek through the signs. Sometimes I was just too busy to notice the moon at all. So our relationship has been all over the map.
Then in this past year the moon started reaching out to me in my journeys and meditations and giving me short lessons about herself and other nature beings. I also began getting all kinds of synchronicities – receiving emails and links to podcasts about other people feeling called to renew their connection with the moon cycles. My Higher Self brought through messages about working with her by keeping track of her again. This is one of my favorites:
“There are archangels of the cosmos that hold the moon dear, it has been imbued with Divine light. What is your special connection with the moon? It is your water connection – time and tides. You are a force of water and so you move with the moon. Not just on a physical level, but on a metaphysical level. To understand what that means is to immerse yourself in the mystery of moonlight. It unravels knots. It wakes your cosmic meridians. It becomes part of you that you revel in. We want you to be aware of her, just like you are aware of any loved one. When she is coming home. When she is going out. When you connect with her you will receive the gift of knowing within you that lights up. There is no other way to explain this.”
She is a great teacher because she is visible, and we can feel her on an energetic level and work with her on an emotional and mental level. Her changing aspects reflect facets of our inner selves; waxing and waning, full and dark, each one familiar yet unique in our expression.
In the morning I sit at my altar and look at my moon calendar as part of my spiritual practice.
Where is the moon today?
What does her energy feel like?
How best can I work with her this cycle?
Where am I in my own cycle of becoming and blossoming?
I feel like I have reconnected with a whole family of wise aunties and grandmothers. And I feel like I have renewed a primal part of myself.
In shamanic practice, it is common to work with ancestors from one’s lineage. Our ancestors can be wise teachers and healers who pass on special skills and information to us and can help heal ancestral karma for the entire lineage. It is also good practice to work with one’s descendants as well. They can provide information and teaching about how humanity got through difficult time periods. They also provide a window to what the possible future holds.
With the world at a major turning point right now, I felt called to do a journey to a descendant who could give me some insights about how we got through it.
My helping spirits led me where I needed to go, and we stepped into a yard next to a house. I do not remember the details of the building, but the surrounding land was full of colors. Green and gold grass swept over the hills behind the structure, the sky was deep blue with a few puffy clouds. An orchard next to the yard had many long rows of robust trees full of red and gold apples. A woman came walking from the orchard towards me carrying a big basket of apples. She was middle aged, tall with wavy graying hair. She was dressed in a woven fabric dress the color of olive green, with a slate blue and orange tunic or scarf covering her shoulders.
I told her who I was and what we were all going through in my time now, and that I had come to her for any advice or insights she could share. She told me that she was in the year 2150. She and her husband and children lived on this regenerative farm. She said that there are still cities and technology, but around the cities and stretching out to the rural towns, there are farms and co-ops that regenerate the land and provide food for area communities. There is balance. All waste, broken or used up items are recycled into general building block materials for making new things. There are no power lines. The air felt clean and energized. She took an apple from her basket and handed it to me and told me to plant the seeds.
I thanked her and went back to my garden in non-ordinary reality and planted the apple seeds. The nature spirits and deva of the tree helped it to grow quickly and flower full of exquisite blossoms. I felt clarity as I stood next to it. It spoke. “The way we live during these times are seeds for the future. What future are you stepping into?”
For the past few months, I have been receiving reminders from my spirit teachers about being mindful of the seeds I plant. They are helping me to see that planting seeds is the beginning of choosing our timeline. Not all seeds sprout, which is a good thing. Seeds planted in fear, anger, hate are only going to propagate more of the same, and continue to keep us on a painful timeline, just like the one collective humanity has been on for thousands of years. When we plant seeds with mindfulness and intention, and nurture the sprouting with love and care, those new shoots guide us onto the path of the timeline we choose to be on now. It can be a very subtle thing. However, we have free will and we can choose to direct ourselves into a new timeline to a different outcome. A different Earth.
So I’ve been thinking, after the immediate quarantine is lifted, and businesses and schools reopen, how can we NOT go back to normal? How can we choose a new way of living where the earth and all life is treasured, respected and treated as if it is the Divine embodied? What changes do we make in our intention, our way of thinking and lifestyles to guide our timeline to this new world we envision? If enough of us guide our timelines into a new paradigm, will that give birth to it sooner?
In your journeying practice, I encourage you to journey to meet a descendant. Not only can they be a source of information, but they may also become one of your guides and allies.
I also recommend that you to contemplate these two questions (journeying on them might be helpful as well):
“What is it that I want to do differently to not return back to “normal” after this?”
“What seeds can I plant to help anchor that in my timeline.”
It is time to remember that each one of us has the power to change our worlds.
To help you tend to soul issues that may manifest in physical, emotional, mental or spiritual aspects of your life, and to give you tools to empower your path to harmony and well-being.
-There are so many kindredspirits doing the work out there. I include these links to help our community connect with one another.
SACRED HOOP Magazine Guide to Shamanism Compilation- http://www.sacredhoop.org/Pages/FreeGuide.html
Kitzie's podcasts include interviews with artists and kirtan music. I love attending her weekly Satsang group and the New World Kirtan Band concerts -
My friend and herbalist mentor, Lawrence Birch is a Certified Clinical Herbalist, plant whisperer and shamanic practitioner. If you need custom tincture blends or are interested in a wildcrafting apprenticeship, he is the teacher extraordinaire:
Roger Wheelock and Gayle Ruth are shamanic practitioners and teachers in the Pachakuti Mesa Tradition. https://www.rainmother.com/ I am grateful to be able to take part in ceremony with them, and to support their love for the Peruvian people through the World Ayni Association.