Your Assignment: Build Your Own Morning Altars
A longtime altar maker shares his practice
Within Reach, Winter 2016; The Temple's Tile, Autumn 2015; Mystery's Winter, Winter 2015 by Day Schildkret
I started making morning altars as a part of the daily routine of walking my dog, Rudy. I leave my house every morning at 8 a.m. and fill my basket with things I find along the trail. When I began, it was a prayer practice I created to work through my grief, both personally and for the collective. Martin Prechtel says beauty is what can metabolize grief, and building these altars was saving my life; I was creating some beauty and praying with it.
I create on a public trail in the woods, so I have become a fixture for people who walk on this path regularly. There is a constant interplay happening between me and the land and people and animals. One time, I came by and I found a bouquet of flowers left for an altar I had created the day before, so I used those flowers to create the next altar. Another time I was in the middle of building an altar when a wild turkey walked by and dropped a feather, so I integrated that feather into the altar. Another time, after being away for a week, I returned to discover that someone had used my materials to form a large question mark.
I make these altars as an offering, but they are also nourishment. The beauty gets metabolized by the land and sometimes by the animals that eat them! Building these morning altars is my greatest expression of how I feed my spiritual path; it has changed me to have a practice I am devoted to and invited me into the conversation: “What does it mean to create beauty every day as a practice and a way of giving back?”
It’s as if I’m having a relationship with my altar making: if I don’t do it, it starts to call to me.
Share Your Altar