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We hope that you will find our content to be uplifting and educational. Please keep in mind that this is not a space for debate or criticism but rather a place for respect, curiosity and learning.

You are encouraged to take what you can from what we share here. If you want to know more, do not look to the contributors of this blog to teach anything beyond what we post. Seek out what feels right for you, trust the Spirit to guide you and have faith in our heavenly parents who are the givers of all pure knowledge.

July 5, 2011

Creating my sacred space


Originally I had been opposed to a prayer/meditation altar but over a few months, I realized I could really benefit from the centering that comes from having visual representations and elements to guide my thoughts. The items I have put on my altar give me a focus on the aspects that I feel are most important to me right now--what I'm working on, where I want to go, what I value.  I realized in my altar I wanted to have a visual image of the Goddess and God. I really love the concept of the triple goddess because as I ponder a divine woman, she's not just a mother, not just a grandmother, but she has a complete knowledge and understanding and encompasses all the aspects of womanhood. In my Mormon.org profile, I describe how I see the Goddess.

I wanted to find something to visually depicted that. I searched for images using the term "triple goddess" and the artwork pictured below is the first that showed up. I like it more than the other pieces of goddess art that I've seen because it shows the dimensions of womanhood so well. The intensity of maidenhood, the softness and passion of motherhood and the calm wisdom of the wise woman all show how women are capable of all of those things at the same time. The wise woman has been all of those things and does not cease to be what she once was and she matures and progresses through the stages of wisdom.
By Wolfnixie13
I then turned my eyes to the male deity. Since I love the idea of a complex ageless and at every age woman, I thought viewing the Lord God as the Triple God. The concept is not as common as that of the triple goddess though you can search and find some discussion of it. However, the concept does not seem as well developed in people's minds and it was virtually impossible to find a visual representation of God as a youth, father and wise man. You'd be really surprised to hear where I found it though: in the First Vision.

Available at Deseret Book
Its not perfect, but if you remember the Mormon doctrine that we can gain all knowledge and become gods ourselves, Joseph acts as the youth who has the capability, potential to (and maybe has already) attain godhood. Then, Christ is the appropriate age for father (and I believe he was a biological father in his mortal life, AND the Book of Mormon teaches us that we become the children of Christ at our baptism) so Christ can be perfectly viewed as a divine father. Then logically, God the Father is the wise man who has attained all knowledge and wisdom. So there you go, in the most familiar visual representation Mormons have of Elohim, I see the Triple God.

At first I had my eyes set on this representation of the Triple Goddess but I'm not at a point where I can spend that much on such a beautiful statue. Perhaps the time will come that I will replace both of frugal choices with the more expensive representations that I first considered. Besides, I'd love to find a bronze statue of the First Vision rather than marble or plaster.

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I printed out both of pieces of artwork shown first and framed them. I placed them on a carved wood table that had belonged to my great grandmother. Above the table, I have a metal work tree that to me symbolizes the tree of life and the progression to Godhood, Heavenly Mother, my ancestors and family tree.
The Tree of Life above my prayer table

Between the framed art, I felt prompted to put a wedding photo of my husband and I. It reminds me of the good that can be found in the temple endowment--that women are promised to become queens, priestesses, and goddesses (I basically ignore the "to your husbands" part because I reject the notion that women need an intermediary to relate to their Mother and Father. I just cannot believe that principle comes from God). To me, our wedding photo reminds me of our ability to progress and possess all the knowledge, power and ability of our Father and Mother. That's my goal in this life: to maintain the focus of where I want to go. It is my hope and my faith that together my husband and I can attain those blessings.
Our sealing at the Salt Lake Temple

But that leads into what is basically a need of mine: to remember that I am out of balanced when I think too much of the afterlife and the future. I need to find ways to be present in the hear and now. That's where Buddhist mindfulness provides me important lessons. I've also found in paganism, the ability to connect with the earth and value my time on it. I have an advent wreath placed in front of my framed pictures. The advent wreath is bronze and shaped with Celtic knots which connects to my Irish and Scottish heritage. I also decided to put in the colored candles with associate with the pagan earth elements (earth, air, water, fire and in the center spirit). I also have candles that are associated with the chakras (click on learn about more chakras and a pop-up page will come up) because I find focusing on which part of my seems out of balance is really helping in finding that balance. I've been focusing in the abstract spiritual world for so long that I need some concrete aids to help ground me.

This advent wreath is available from Terra Sancta Guild
In learning about the elements and their associated colors, I learned something very interesting. The colors for each element are pretty stable and logical: blue for water, red for fire, green for earth, yellow for air, purple for spirit. However, I learned that depending on your geography, which direction you associate with a certain element will be different. Since I live in the Pacific Northwest, I associate water (the ocean) to the west of me, fire (the desert) to the south, earth (the mountains and expanse of thousands of miles of land) to the west, air (the cool, crisp air of Canada, snow and high altitudes) to the north.

Last thing on there is my aromatherapy diffuser. I turn that on with essential oils in it based on the needs at the time. Sometimes it for emotional stability, balance or comfort (lavender, rose or jasmine) but most often lately its been medicinal to help me get over the viruses and infections floating through the house. It would be more typical to use incense but I find I need the cooling water vapor to comfort me. I'm such a fiery personality that adding more fire is not a good idea and I'll be honest, I find incense smoke irritating to my lungs. The cool water vapor is so cleansing and healing, I much prefer it.

The table is really small so I kneel in front it using a small stool. Its actually a breastfeeding stool but I find its perfect to sit on. Its like using a yoga block to sit on one's feet and I find its the most comfortable position for me that I can sit in for long periods. Kneeling the Christian way just never worked for me without causing cramps and discomfort after a while which resulting in my prayers being cut off or less focused. Being able to relax into prayer and meditation goes a long way to having that time be sacred, meaningful and productive.

With the stool for kneeling
I love how well its come together. I love the layers of symbolism and how each thing reflects a love or need of mine. It helps me stay focused in the moment. Given the many years my life was engrossed by death, suffering and the hope for the afterlife (which is a terrible way to live when you are in your twenties!),  its a huge step for me to be so connected to the material world. The world is a beautiful place, symbols are powerful and I love feeling the freedom to implement symbols that are appropriate and meaningful to me.  I don't feel the need to sit in front of my meditation table everyday but its my calming place when I need it or feel like I could benefit from the full sensory experience.  It really helps me to focus. I end up  feeling more dedicated and connected to both my body, my life and to my parents in heaven. All at the same time, I know who I am, I know where I'm going and what I'm doing here.
The close-up 

9 comments:

  1. I love this! And I find the idea of the First Vision as a good representation of the Triple God so very intriguing. I will have to think more on that, for sure! There's so many female artists out there trying to honor Goddess, that God kind of gets lost in the shuffle, having been relegated to Fire and Brimstone Dad or Kindly Old White Man With Beard. I'd like to see a good piece of artwork that reflects what you found for Goddess, but unfortunately I have zero talent in that arena...

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  2. I love it, it's beautiful. I want to make a sacred space in our home, but at the moment I have a toddler who will pull things apart...I need to find a high bookshelf that I can use or something. Hopefully in our new home next month...

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  3. I really wish I could afford goddess art for my home. I have several images of Jesus and I really want to balance that out. (I love that advent wreath too!)

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  4. Thanks a lot. I just spent a lot of time at Terra Sancta Guild.

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  5. Alisa, how much did you spend??

    Jenni, I have that issue with my kids. Its in my bedroom which they are not allowed to play in (since they don't sleep in there anymore) so supposedly, they're not going to play with it. That said, I'm pretty sure the 2 year old already ruined the aromatherapy diffuser and I often find the candles rearranged.

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  6. I am always guilty of going overboard on these kinds of things. As a result, in an empty-nest home, I have many beautiful things that reflect my MormonPagan worldview. I'm deeply grateful for your sharing this altar. It's beautiful!

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  7. Doe, I'd love to see your collection! Someday, maybe...

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  8. Hi Jenne,

    I just came across this blog via TopHat and saw you write here! I love the idea of a prayer alter and might put one up in my bedroom. I'm not super good about saying prayers when I'm actually awake (i.e., I say them when I'm exhausted at the end of the day and most times fall asleep before I'm finished!). Having this sort of space would help me focus and pray with more intent.

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