The dream, as a sacred encounter, offers us many gestures, objects, symbols and energies. We can create ways to bring to bring the energy within our dream into our waking life in an intentional way. The winter solstice offers the perfect time for gathering. Creating an altar or renewing an altar is a time of gathering, gathering to oneself and within oneself all that is sacred and special. The act of creating an altar is a ritual gathering from without to turn within.
|My Dream Altar, Winter Solstice 2016|
The use of altars is an ancient tradition present in most cultures of the world as a place of worship and a place to concentrate ones intent around connection to spirit. It offers an intentional way to engage in prayer, to think, to meditate and to listen...in a space that we have devoted for such purpose. Altars can also be a place to draw family, teach children and loved ones about what it means to enter into contemplative space to reflect and connect with spirit.
My altar consists of sacred objects collected through engagement with the natural world and shamanic work, along with a number of items related to my dreams.
Here are some thoughts on creating altar:
- Select a space that is one that you feel safe and comfortable in. Some place where you can retreat and find solitude.
- Clear the space. I used a Palo Santo wood stick I obtained recently at our Dream Caravan event in New Orleans. Sage works fine too.
- Choose sacred objects that carry meaning for you. Objects which either hold energy or invoke feelings that are important to you in your journey.
- Renew your alter. It is important to periodically renew this space. Clear the space to reset energies. Add or change out sacred objects as they guide your journey.
- Let the dreams guide your on-going engagement with the altar. You may take a word or a small drawing or a special object and place it on the altar for contemplation of a dream moment. As your dreamwork changes and moves, your altar may change and move with you.
More about what is contained in my current altar and how I engage with it to help you think about what might be important to you in creating your own altar:
The cloth is actually an Icelandic sheepskin, from one of my own animals and carries my connection to my farm and the creatures I am in relationship with. I remember this animal as one I found tangled in barbed wire. I disentangled and saved her. The pelt actually shows the wound from where she was caught. This item is imbued with the instinctual in me and my deep connection to earth. It also reminds me to tend to my own wounds.
Sage and Palo Santo incense for clearing the space and myself. The large sage bundle was a gift received during Kunsi Keya's annual Lakota Sundance Ceremony which I had the honor of being invited to attend the public portion in 2011.
A small candle to bring in the light and to honor the fire in me.
A piece of white quartz stone from my land here in Danville obtained during a short medicine walk I took with my dear friend Mary Kay which holds the energies of earth for me.
A small flask of water, an important element in my dreams and to remind my self to take more water into my body. Water is life.
Chime..I ring this as a way to call in the spirits and to release them at the end of the meditation. Sound is important to me in terms of healing in my throat chakra, a place of intensity for me in my work with dreams.
Sacred moss agate yoni egg from a client of mine who is a healer in New Orleans (you can find her at http://www.asc3nsionart.com/). This object is connected to my on-going dreamwork practice, opening to the vulnerability and strength of the feminine...the place of my deepest wounding.
A small shard of "Chaney" pottery found on the beaches of St. Croix USVI. This object holds connection to my birth mother and our time together discovering each other...a major part of my healing journey.
The abalone shell and the fossil are sacred objects connected to many dreams but most recently a dream of being a boy in a sand stone cave...there is the feel of the ancient primordial sea...and exploration.
There is a small drawing of a horse that I did many years ago...a dream pony...an invitation to ride.
My version of the hand of alchemy, a painting I did which contains astrological and other symbols of meaning, importance and positivity to me from my dream work and from my astrological birth chart.
A small figurine, an excavated frozen doll laid in a gold painted oyster shell...another sacred object connected to the feminine, which holds deep meaning from a dream.
Bones from a deer which I found in the woods on a walk and which I spent time cleaning and bringing in. And a turkey feather also found on my land. Both bring connection to nature and my instinctual self.
Two baskets, one contains feathers gifted to me by owl one morning. The other basket holds sage.
There is also a sea shell which I made into a necklace. The shell comes from Ariel Sands Beach in Bermuda where I attended a powerful dream retreat in 2011.
A small clay stone inscribed with the words "progress not perfection" which pays homage to the program of recovery which began my spiritual journey.
And finally, a small snake pendant carved from a tusk and holding the energy of snake who bite me in a dream in 2007 and started my journey to discover the wisdom of the dream.
I encourage all my readers to work with their dreams and their dream practitioner, if you have one, to find the gestures and sacred objects which you can bring into your waking life to support the work you are doing with your dreams and a deeper connection with the sacred in yourself.