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Your Assignment: Build Your Own Morning Altars

A longtime altar maker shares his practice

Three mandalas made from items foraged in nature

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 altar …

Check out more photos of Day Schildkret’s morning altars are at, on Facebook at, and Instagram at @morningaltars. Schildkret also invites you to share your altars at

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Morning RitualsNatureMandala

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