Since we moved, my practice has been pretty moribund (OK, let’s be honest, non-existent), so I decided that this weekend I would try to enliven it – and the best place to start seemed to be to enliven and re-order my altar, which was looking very neglected. However, the whole weekend developed into a kind of ‘spiritual re-invigoration’ in quite unexpected ways.
We had planned to go to Avebury Henge today, but because the weather forecast was far better for yesterday, in the end, on a whim, we decided to change plans and set off immediately. Avebury is a great place, and although swarming with tourists, few of whom seemed to have any appreciation for it’s history and significance, was bathed in beautiful sunlight and warmth, and a good time (of varying kinds) seemed to be being had by all. We walked around the outer circle of stones, taking in the two inner circles along the way, and then spent a few minutes in The Henge Shop, looking at their displays and quite easily resisting the temptation to spend money – although those Celtic T-shirts do look attractive……
Afterwards we tried to go into Marlborough but found it to be full (literally), and in leaving town we unwittingly committed ourselves to an unwelcome trip along the M4 Motorway. Soon back on track, however, we eventually rounded out a very enjoyable day out with a pint at the Lion At (West) Pennard – one of South Somerset’s more pleasant stopping-places.
So having spent the day soaking up the atmosphere of Avebury yesterday, the altar remained in its sorry state…….
Two of the afflictions the altar has suffered over the last couple of months are a generous application of cat hair courtesy of our two feline house-guests, and a large glob of candle-wax (and some smaller ones) courtesy of my inability to blow out a candle sensibly, so it was obvious that before anything else could happen, I’d have to attempt the hot-iron-and-brown-paper trick for the first time ever in order to remove the wax. Happily, after 30 minutes or so of set-up and cautious application of the iron through the brown paper, the spot where the wax had been spilt was all but invisible, and the other smaller globs were completely gone! Followed by a few minutes with the lint roll we had what amounted to a cat-hair-free, almost-as-new altar cloth. And that was it for the day, as we opted for a walk across the fields behind our cottage to make only-slightly-belated Full moon offerings to the River and Land spirits, and to walk back ‘the long way’ through the lanes, spotting indiginous foliage and wildlife for the Genii Locus (spirit of place) map which we hope to develop.
Today dawned with a pre-planned early morning walk to the top of Glastonbury Tor, in very sunny, typically very windy conditions, and a chance to take in the particular atmosphere of the place, with further reference to the spirit of place awareness we are cultivating. Happily we were nearly the only people on the Tor due to the relatively early hour.
Then we made our way down into Glastonbury for breakfast at our favourite cafe, a visit to the High Street shops (some of the proprietors are our friends), and then to Chalice Well Gardens, another of the significant sites of Glastonbury:-
We’ve decided to become Companions (friends) of Chalice well….it really does seem like a very spiritual place….especially when we *don’t* visit on a sunny Bank Holiday during Half Term! Then again, last time we visited it snowed……
While we were at the Well Mrs P-M collected bottles of White and Red Spring water for use in her own practice. I had already collected a bottle of Red Spring water on a previous visit, which I plan to use in my own morning rites:-
Having completed our visits to sacred sites for the weekend and returned home, it was time to resume work on the altar…..
I had already removed all the previous vessels, candles, etc., in the process of getting the altar cloth off yesterday evening, so first onto the newly-restored cloth was my OSN (Order of the Sacred Nemeton) pendant – the symbol of my commitment to the Order which I should (and will) be wearing on days when I don’t have to put on a suit and go out to meet clients:-
After that, the small jug I bought in Glastonbury to hold the water which is poured out each morning during the OSN’s Morning Prayer:-
Next the lovely little offering bowl which Mrs P-M bought me for a hand-fasting anniversary present a few weeks back. I really love this, and the Celtic detail on the side, and I plan to use it for my morning offerings from now on:-
During the morning I had bought a brand new candle for the centre of the altar. Although I already had a pretty serviceable candle, I felt that this called for something newly-bought. I also added a framed photo of the chalice well cover (see image above), because I feel that the well is going to be a place we’ll be going back to and ‘getting to know’ in terms of the spirits of the place, over the next few months (and probably longer), and it warrants inclusion. Of course, above the altar hang Mrs P-M’s beautiful portrayals of Nemetona and Loucetios, two Deities with whom I have a special (and recently neglected) relationship:-
Finally, there were just a few other items to add. A second candle (also new and unused) for use during the OSN Morning and Night Prayer Offices, a small censer/thurible which stands on a black ceramic tile I bought from B&Q for a few pence, and my gorse wand, gain made for me by Mrs P-M (who does all the ‘crafty’ stuff, as you will by now have realised). Gorse is the Ogham tree pertinent to my birthday, so it seems appropriate to include it. I also have a lovely Holly wand (again courtesy of Mrs P-M) which I’ll include closer to Yule, and I’m on the lookout for a length of local Oak (we’ve identified the tree) for a corresponding Oak wand in due course.
So here it is, finished:-
All it needs now is the addition of my OSN Breviary:-
I’m really looking forward to getting back to my practice again, and I feel that the whole weekend, with its combination of walking, sacred site visits and altar refurbishment has given me a good platform for which to set out again.
Back to work tomorrow – and back to Practice as well!