Thursday, January 10, 2013

A is for Altars

Yeah, I'm sure everyone is going to be doing altars this week, but every altar is different, no? So let me show you mine. I don't have the best light on this wall, so the camera's flash throws shadows a bit oddly.
I'll have closeups in a moment. So this is the last part of the hallway into the living room; the door to the kitchen is just to the right of the altar. That means I walk past this spot multiple times a day. I like that it's in such a well-traveled spot; it keeps me mindful of it. The necklace hanging on the left side of the altar is a sun, the necklace on the right is a moon. The statue in the middle I found in the same shop that I bought the little statue of Ganesh and the little statue of Shiva. I don't see it as a fertility symbol so much as a sexuality symbol. Here's a close up of it:

When I'm not wearing my necklace, it hangs here. It's a trinity knot inside a dragon ouroboros. The statue stands on top the tarot card The Sun, for family, love, and loyalty. Turning to the left side of the altar:
It looks cluttered in this shot, but it's really not. Ganesh is sitting on top of a glass cube with a dragon etched inside; That represents me. I coil my hematite bracelet around the cube when I'm not wearing it, and there's two more pieces of hematite to either side of the cube. I love hematite; it grounds me and makes a lovely worry stone. (Those two pieces occasionally go in my pocket if I know I'm going into a stressful situation.) I usually keep a tarot card or two under the glass cube for various purposes. The crow feather is one of many that I own; Crow is rather dear to my heart. On the left wall of the altar is a stuffed bull - I am a Taurus, after all!

Now the right side of the altar: 
This glass cube has the Marine Corps' Eagle, Globe, and Anchor etched into it; it represents my husband until I can find a Peter Pan statue. Shiva sits next to him; Sascha rather likes destruction for creation's sake. As he's still looking for a job, there's a coin sitting on top of the cube; it happens to be a British pound coin, but it more the monetary symbol of it. (It was also left in our car by a dear friend and not discovered until we were halfway across the country from said friend, so it's a special coin to us.) In front of Sascha's cube is a dragon sheltering a fairy under his arm, a good symbol for us.

The two goblets on either corner hold small lavender candles for serenity. The altar cloth has an aquatic theme; I may be a very earth person, but I have Pisces rising and can be watery in my imagination and emotions. The entire altar is the top shelf of a bookcase (one of many in our house!) but this bookcase holds my pagan/feminist/philosophy/mythology books. 

I'm very happy with my current altar; it's the first time it's really been out in the living space instead of hidden in a bedroom. I like not having it hidden anymore.

Book Review - Celtic Fairy Tales

Celtic Fairy Tales (Dover Children's Classics) - collected by Joseph Jacobs

I really enjoyed this short book of fairy tales. They are told in a conversational, story-telling style, making it a wonderful book for reading to children, or to memorize the tales to tell in some other setting. It includes some well-known stories, such as "Connla and the Fairy Maiden", where Connla rides with the fairies and steals the maiden they wanted to steal, and winds up marrying her; or "Fair, Brown, and Trembling", a celtic take on Cinderella. 

I particularly enjoyed "A Legend of Knockmany", though I've read it before. It's the story of how Oonagh, Fin M'Coul's wife, scared off Cucullin by pretending Fin was his own infant son. (All spellings from the book.) Upon seeing how strong the "baby" was, Cucullin realized the father must be immensely stronger than he himself was, and fled.

There are lesser known stories in the book as well, like "The Shee an Gannon" where a young man must discover what stopped Guragach Gaire from laughing in order to win the hand of the princess. I also enjoyed "Gold-Tree and Silver-Tree", in which a man's first wife is murdered by her mother out of jealousy over her beauty. His second wife revives his first, helps her kill her mother, and the two of them live happily with the husband ever after.

Some of the stories are simply re-tellings of other stories, like "Conall Yellowclaw" where a man disguises himself as a sheep to get out of the cave of a blind cyclops. Just like Odysseus and Polyphemus.

Overall, a very enjoyable book.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday Photo

It snowed here just before Christmas, and though it didn't stick long, I have some really pretty pictures of the woods behind our apartment.