New Altar Bits

New addition to the altar. A necklace given to me by an anam cara when I went into recovery. I can’t bear to have it against my skin, there’s all sorts of emotional baggage attached, particularly since this person has passed on. But it needed a place of prominence.

(The cord behind it was a custom order from Beth Wodanis)


Amanita muscaria

Tuesday this week I was out walking dogs near my home and found three Amanita muscaria v. formosa, two had been trampled but one was just starting to bloom. I admired it in the morning and took a closer look in the afternoon. As I bent to take a photo I just barely touched it with my finger to see if I could get a look at the gills underneath, the head popped right off. I felt terrible, not meaning to pick it until it had bloomed/opened. I thought about it and hoped it wasn’t entirely my fault, these are sturdy mushrooms, my gentle touch was not enough on it’s own to damage it. So I nabbed the cap and stem, having a talk with it on my way home. I am terribly interested in actually trying this mushroom for spiritual purposes but with a small child I don’t want to lay my life in my very inexperienced hands. The mushroom, who I will use “they” pronouns for, was curious as to why I was so very excited to find it. I did my best to explain the whole oak tree connection, and the Mother of Rot/Mushrooms thing, and the spiritual journey with mushrooms but for the toddler bit. They seemed quite pleased by my attention so made an offer. Take them home, dry and place in a jar on my altar and they would offer as much assistance as they could without actually being ingested. I offered to gather one of each of the Amanita’s that I come across in my travels and place them all in the jar together, the whole family together. They seemed very pleased by this idea and agreed. So into the oven they went.

Last Wednesday, the 21st, while working I came across two immature Amanita muscaria var. muscaria. I was lucky enough this Wednesday to go by the same spot and they were still there! I picked the one that had opened completely, leaving the unopened one to w/Whoever wanted it. This one had a quieter disposition, wasn’t as chatty as the yellow Amanita had been. I explained the situation, they were pleased to be gathered. They are both now in a jar on my altar with a few of the oak leaves they were found in. They are quite pleased. So am I really. I already love putting things in jars on my altar and around my home. Now I need to read up on the others I need to find. My other favourite name for these mushrooms is now berserkur, that’s the Icelandic common name for them.


Uncensored Altar

In all the photo’s I’ve ever shared the altar has been immaculate. Everything dusted and places just so. In real life it only looks like that for about a week. Then the odds and ends of actually living my Path start to accumulate.

Jars of herbs and resins to be burned, charcoal wrapped in foil, the dirty tongs I use to light the charcoal, the ashes I spill. Combine what I call a working or living altar(this meaning one that is used not just up show or not to be disturbed like a shrine), with work and family life and things get messy. 

I’m not exactly happy about it’s current state. As soon as I can save up a spoon it will be cleaned. It takes a good 45 minutes since I clean the mirror and treat the wood with spray cleaner/protector. I’ve had the armour since I was about seven years old.


Burnt Offerings 

I’m quite proud of myself. I’ve never been good at regular practice. The Gods are constantly in my thoughts but actual physical ritual has never been something done regularly. A few weeks back I switched from stick incense back to charcoal discs. The whole act of getting the disc lit, sprinkling the powdered incense on, the way the smoke billows up; I love it and so do They. In my studies for Greek and Roman Paganism I gathered that the Gods are particularly fond of the physical act of burning offerings. This has kept me at it with the charcoal. It’s been a week now that I’ve remembered and made the time to stand in front of my altar, give my burnt offerings and prayers, every day. The Gods are quite pleased and so am I.

The Dark of the Year

Being a Celtic Reconstructionist, Samhain or Oíche Shamhna (Irish Gaelic), is a pretty big deal. It is the time of year when the Veil between the worlds is thinnest, when our Beloved Dead and Ancestors come for a visit and roam the land of the living. It is also the start of the new year, just as we all start in darkness so does the yearly cycle. On a personal level Oíche Shamhna is a very important day. Besides the above mentioned reasons it has always been my favourite day of the year, was ranked up with Christmas on the big holidays in my family. I adore the decorations, the trick or treaters, the pumpkin carving, the smell of the air, the coloured leaves. This is also my husbands’s favourite day of the year. We wanted to get married on October 31st but that year it landed on a Wednesday, as it did this year, not a good day for weddings. So we were married on the 27th instead. As my spiritual journey has progressed this day becomes more and more sacred to me. I still love the secular aspects of it but I have made sure to research the roots of those traditions and I will teach them to my son. The commercialization of this holy day is really starting to bother me, I think I now understand how Christians feel about the commercialization of Christmas.

I had wanted to have a dumb supper this year but between the baby and my health it didn’t happen. I did get to carve a little pentacle pumpkin though and have a small ritual for my Beloved Dead and Ancestors. I lit my altar up fully, burned some white sage and frankincense and myrrh. I had a dish in which I offered local unpasturized honey, whipping cream (from a can, better then milk I thought), 7 pomegranite seeds, a pinch of millet grains and four dried chick peas. I also set a little item for each Beloved Dead in front of the offering dish. The small silver vial with Grandma Laidlaw’s ashes, a small wooden carved bull that was Grandpa Laidlaw’s, a ceramic tiger that was Great Grandma Warner’s, a ceramic figurine if two mice that made me think of Grandma Dickins and a small wooden egg, painted Polish style for Grandma Furgala. I also placed a small silver backed mirror, face up on the blue velvet bag it stays in. It was something I was compelled to do, I think it was meant to represent water since bodies of water were gateways to the Otherworld.

My festivities and rituals will continue until November 11th as they always do. I will praying everyday as well as lighting my altar. I am doing this for my celebrations but also because it is the new year and I want to get into the habit of doing this every day. Starting this year I will also be treating my body as a Temple again, eating better and getting more exercise.