The Spirit of the Shrine

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(As I write that title, I’m realizing that there’s a story’s worth of imagery and content in there, and I think I have a new project for the current story is tied up. Neat!)

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A while ago (I forget where exactly) I was talking with someone (I forget who, exactly) about shrines, specifically my shrine for Poseidon and how it is less a sacred space set aside for His worship, how it is less a space in the house in which He could come and live and be present, and more a tribute to our relationship. (Hrm. I might have been talking about that here. I’ll have to go looking, at some point.) I know there are traditions in which the god or spirit is believed to come into an object, is believed to live in that space. I believe these things can happen, that they do happen, and so I have poked at this concept. “Do You do this? Are any of these objects things that You do this with? Should I have something on here to act as a ‘house’ for You?”

In my experience with Poseidon, He is not very object-oriented. Things are things. He has opinions about the objects on His shrine. Hand-made, or found, recycled, or gifted. Very, very few items that are mass produced *and* bought new. Those things? Focal points for me, shared stories between u/Us, omens, signs, portents. Comfort given. A huge amount of them come from the first few years of our marriage, and I treasure them. I’ve received fewer physical signs of His presence as I’ve gained in confidence and, heh, trust.

The shrine is ours. It’s not just His, it’s o/Our space. We don’t need it to communicate. I don’t need it for a focal point so that I can think on Him, or speak with Him, or be aware of Him in my life. That would be reliant upon objects as a foundation of o/Our relationship, and He has very much been against that from the beginning.

But, I was thinking — do objects such as shrines take up spirits of their own? We believe in housewights, the manifestation of the spirit of the house that can interact with the inhabitants, so is it a far cry to wonder if a shrine could develope spirit of its own? I have maintained a shrine space for Poseidon for almost twenty years. I still have, though I don’t use it, the first cloth I draped over the bookcase I used. (It hangs over. I have cats. I put it away. Although, talking about it has me wanting to break it out again). Can a shrine develope a soul that is not necessarily of Him or of me? What would that be like? Would it be like one’s tools taking on personality? Beth’s drum totally has personality. Our spinning wheels are almost like people to us. We’re animists. So, it’s not a radical idea for us, yet I haven’t done much more than poke at the thought.

And now? Now there’s a story to write.

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. Beth says:

    I love this post! I’d have to say (probably unsurprisingly to you) that I feel the same way. Especially in recent years, Odin has made it more and more clear to me that He wants His shrine space to be about u/Us and o/Our relationship, and not just about Him. It is an evolving process, but I’ve never seen His shrine as THE focal point of my relationship with Him (which is why, although I do altar devotions from time to time, they don’t tend to be a daily by-rote thing). I do love the idea of the shrine having its own spirit though (nit Odin, but in the same way all of our important tools have spirits).

  2. Beth says:

    Reblogged this on Wytch of the North and commented:
    An awesome post from Jo pondering what role the shrine she keeps for her god, Poseidon, has in her relationship with Him. I agree with much of what she says here. Especially in recent years, Odin has made it more and more clear to me that He wants His shrine space to be about u/Us and o/Our relationship, and not just about Him. Making it into this is an evolving process, but I’ve never seen His shrine as THE focal point of my relationship with Him anyway (which is why, although I do altar devotions from time to time, they don’t tend to be a daily by-rote thing–and, probably unsurprisingly to readers of this blog, He isn’t big on anything done by rote, anyway). I do love the idea of the shrine having its own spirit though (not Odin, but in the same way all of our important tools have spirits).

  3. syrens says:

    Uh… This may be totally weird, but would the spirit of your shrine be one of your kids? Is that even possible?

    1. naiadis says:

      I giggle, a little, at the “this may be totally weird,” disclaimer, considering what my life is. ;p That said, no kids! No actual children, no mystical children, no kids!

      I don’t know if the situation would be a creature or being or what-have-you that He and I created together, or whether it would be an already extant spirit that has come in from elsewhere to inhabit a shrine space, or if it’s a natural manifestation that happens in any sort of tool/focal point/etc. Many places this story could go . . .

      1. syrens says:

        Okay, yes, the “this may be weird” thing is… relative. But I don’t have a clue how deities make kids with humans – if they always come from human bodies, or what… So, it might have been an odd suggestion.

        Re: No kids!: Good boundaries! πŸ™‚

        As far as I understand this sort of stuff… Spirits are like bodies, in that they grow and develop over time. Also: the more complex the body, the more complex the spirit.
        That may not be at all what’s really going on, but… I think the “proto-soul” kind of wakes up when you start feeding it (time, energy, attention, focus) and grows as the place/item it’s a spirit of grows/develops/works.
        So… I would guess (and it is SUCH a guess) that you and He woke up the Natural Manifestion that is developing into the spirit-of-the-shrine through all the things that you do that tell it what it is.
        I think…
        Uh…

  4. tanisharose says:

    Absolutely! Maybe it’s the spirit of your love and relationship that you’ve given a home to.
    It’s interesting when a deity wants almost nothing- Quan Yin & Tara want for nothing- which is an ideal to reach for- satisfaction and a sense of having all that you need- but it sure does make for an empty altar.
    This was lovely. Thank you.
    Tanisha

    1. naiadis says:

      It is interesting then they want almost nothing. I’m not surprised to hear that about Quan Yin and Tara. Now and again it makes me feel like a bad polytheist — shouldn’t I have this shrine space overflowing with *things*? Offerings and flowers and gifts to Him? But, in the end? No. With us, it’s not about those things.

      1. pjvj says:

        Shrine space to me is an honoring and offering space to Whomever, yes, but more of a focal point for me. It is a place I go to when/if *I* need the focus. Maybe I just have a poor attention span. πŸ˜‰

      2. tanisharose says:

        Things- ah- things. some spirits are exceedingly grabby of things. I think the thing he wants from you most of all is you-and that can’t be placed permanently on an altar. You do overflow, you overflow with things, and that’s all he needs from you.
        It’s quite flattering, really.

        1. naiadis says:

          . . . .

          you know. I hadn’t *quite* thought of it in *that* particular way, in all this time.

          I’ll be over here being quiet and awed and speechless for a bit now . . .

          1. tanisharose says:

            Glad I could awe you πŸ˜‰

  5. Alex says:

    This is very much how my space for the Mister has played out–it reflects our relationship and who we are together, rather than being a space for Him to live. He lives everywhere and in everything in my life. The space is the touchstone for who we are.

    I also very rarely get tangibles that relate to His presence as well. I got a mess of them in the beginning and they are nice things, but they are just things and they aren’t Him and I have also found myself in the place of having and needing less physical stuff to inspire confidence and trust in Him and us.

    1. naiadis says:

      This is absolutely beautiful. πŸ™‚

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