I suppose one would have to say that the most important thing about progress reports is that there BE some progress to report.
In the case of my backyard shrine project, there has been precious little progress of any kind in these last couple months. I had intended, by now, to have cleared away the space around the central tree trunk, to have mapped out the area, drawn up detailed layout designs, and to have at least begin the process of removing the excess limbs from the upper reaches of the tree.
However, it seems as if every time I set some time aside to work on this project, something else comes up to distract me, or the weather turns against me. Just recently we had a nasty winds storm down here. A straight-line wind, preceding a storm cell, blew through my neighborhood at speeds in excess of 80mph, felling entire trees in its wake. The streets here are still lined with shattered limb and bough. Several modest sized trees on my own property came down in the storm, and now I’ll have to find the time to clear them out of the way before I can even think about starting new projects.
It is disheartening, but I knew this project might prove itself beyond me. I knew also that my own motivation would likely prove my greatest obstacle.
I have not given up yet. Far from it!
Below you will see some preliminary sketch-work I’ve done, showing the dead tree as it currently stands and then some of my thoughts about how it ‘might’ look in the future.
My current thinking has a raised, circular platform, around the trunk of the carved tree. Immediately to the east of that circle and intersecting with it, a second circle, containing a reflecting pool and a raised fire bowl. In this incarnation the whole thing lines up with sunrise on Samhain.
I am not even close to a final design for this yet. Another idea incorporates the Celtic Triple-Spiral with three platforms of varied height providing which tie into the three realms (land, sea, sky). A third (mostly rejected) idea involves a long arbor-like processional that spirals around the central carved tree trunk, which itself rises up from a circular pool of water.
None of these designs do a very good job of interacting with the other features of the yard and house, and it is important to me that the entire space seems to flow, rather than feeling forced.
And so more time at the drawing board is called for. As is more time in the space itself, wandering around, feeling for the natural ebb and flow that has not quite vanished under the surface.
Time and attention are what this project needs, and both have been in short supply, with many other projects clamoring for attention.
And speaking of…,
You may remember, several weeks back now, that I mentioned a particularly powerful meditation experience, involving a certain sacred well, and Nuada of the Silver Hand.
Since awakening from the vision, I have been looking for a token to place on my home altar, to stand for the ‘fallen king’ who seems to have unexpectedly entered into my personal pantheon. Thus far, I have found nothing that seems appropriate to the task, but a friend suggested to me that I should perhaps make my own, perhaps casting it out of pewter or some similar metal.
I have very limited experience in metal casting, but I am actually very excited by this idea and have been putting time into researching the methods, tools and materials involved. I have also been working, in clay, on a preliminary sculpture that may form the basis of a mold in the future.
It’s a tad crude as of yet. I’m still trying to decide if I want to stick with just the symbolic silver hand, or work in a more anthropomorphic rendering of the deity himself, but it feels good to be sculpting something again. When I work on things like this it feels as if something is waking up in me, some part of my inner landscape comes alive, which I have not wandered in what seems like ages.
Maybe these feelings are nothing more than happy accidents, or perhaps that comes to me by design. In either case, the more I push back against the work-a-day existence that threatens to drown me in needless tedium, the more I try to shape the world around me into something better, the more human and alive I begin to feel.
This is the fifth post in a series following my progress in the planning and construction of a small temple space on my property. If you wish to follow along with my progress you may see other posts in this series by clicking here.