The Sun rises, its light breaking through the naked trees and piercing the heavy bedroom curtains I have drawn against the dawn. The patterns of branches in a golden glow sway against the cloth, inviting me to step out into the morning, promising warmth and comfort in the dawning of a new day.
These are lies.
Yes, the lizard on his rock would tell you that the Sun’s rays are all the warmth one could ever need, if that is, he were not frozen to that rock in the 20°F air.
It’s cold out there folks!
It’s winter in Texas, and while we may not have to deal with snowplows and the like, it is too damned cold to be doing much of anything outside this morning. And this from someone who likes the cold, and abhors the sweltering heat of Summer that all my friends and neighbors are already crying out for the return of.
The winter chill, drives us indoors and away from any outdoor project that is not of critical importance. And so, by necessity, my backyard temple/shrine project has been very much on the back-burner these past several weeks.
Oh sure, there are things I could be doing – out there. But I want this project to be a ‘labor of love’ and quite honestly, I find no benevolent inspiration in the numbing of my fingers.
Also, there is the small matter of a recently cracked rib. Which is, itself, another story and entirely beside the point I was trying to make.
It is enough to say that the cold weather does exactly what it is supposed to do. It drives us home, and to the sacred hearth, if we have one.
If my small house had a fireplace, it would be dressed as the primary place of worship – the very heart of the home.
Lacking that, I have instead, a small altar – the expression of Sacred Space within my home.
It is spare, at the moment, in reflection of the Winter season.
It changes in design and content with the passing of each Celtic feast day.
The altar will begin to bloom again with the coming of Imbolc. It will grow wild and chaotic in Beltane’s passing, and will take on rich, golden hues when Lughnasadh holds sway.
With Samhain, comes the season of closure, of sleep, and of the sacred balance between the light of life and warmth, and the darkness and the cold that lie just beyond.
There is no particular arrangement to my altar. The sacred geometry of that space reveals itself to me each season, as I dress it anew. Next winter, it will doubtless look very different, than it does today.
There are some constants of course…,
There are the images of the primary gods and goddesses of my worship…,
There is the great book, where I will record the myths and traditions that shape my belief…,
A cup, for libations and sacrifice…,
A candle against the darkness…,
A sphere of gold-sheen obsidian, to represent the blackest night, and the promise of light that hides even there…,
And, of course, there is the sickle, Druids’ blade and harvest tool, its razor crescent turned outward in warning, because the harvest is done, and this is the season when the Earth bites back!
All this, and more, set upon a heavy wooden frame. Totem and tool, symbol and sacrifice, a physical expression of the sacred, as warming to me as a roaring fire.
It is a place to go, when driven inward by the cold.
The deceitful Sun is moving higher into the air now, and I have much yet to do, this day. Some of those errands will drive me out into that hard, bright chill, and I will bring the warmth of the gods with me into the day, and then back again.
Back to the altar.
This is the sixth post in a series following my progress (or often, lack thereof) 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.