Create Your Altar by Nicole Adriana Casanova
The Alchemist's Kitchen
Spring has come and with its return, the dance between day and night begins to balance out. As daytime grows longer, the earth receives the light it needs to initiate its next cycle of emergence. In many traditions, Springtime heralds the New Year. With the Spirit of Aries, the Ram, whose strong will and vitality lends us the energy necessary to transform our winter seeds into Spring, shoots and initiate new beginnings. Aries is cardinal fire. In astrology, the cardinal signs are trailblazers, explorers, initiating forces.
With a new year ahead of us, and more light to reflect on how to consciously move in to this cycle, many of us are asking ourselves what to bring out of the dark months of winter into the light of spring.
It isn’t always as easy as it sounds. There can be a heaviness to this time of year if it’s happening to you instead of with you. This weight and gravity builds as Spring progresses. This is natural though, since the next three months relate to the earth and the forces of the Earth. In general, the beginning of any season is a great opportunity to meditate on how to work with the energy at hand, so that it can support your visions.
Because we are ourselves forces of nature, simplifying in the Spring is a widespread practice. We begin the spring cleaning of our homes, or cleanse our bodies by eating lighter foods that help us come out of sleep into wakefulness. This is an ancient practice and deep within our cells, it is still recorded.
The altar is another ancient practice used by many cultures. It is a spiritual technology that creates sacred space for us to declare, invoke, dedicate, meditate, and heal.
The altar is a symbol of the return of light, the rebirth. It is a recognition and celebration of the Earth element, who rules over the springtime cycle.
You may have noticed that there are four main parts to the Spring Altar and they all surround the center, or heart. Each section relates not only to a direction: East, South, West, and North, but also to an element: Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. These elements possess unique types of wisdom and relate directly to our lives: air to mind, fire to will, water to heart, and earth to body. This is the medicine wheel.
You can partner with these elements to help you develop awareness on how you’re approaching these parts of your life. Some questions to consider are: in what directions is my mind moving and what am I spending most of time thinking about? How is my ability to focus and get things done, and is my focus so strong that I am excluding others? How and what am I feeling, and is it good for me? Is my body healthy and balanced? What am I consuming to influence this?
As your awareness opens through this inquiry, you may begin to understand how to build an altar of your own. It’s called a medicine wheel because it can be used to help alleviate, dispel, and strengthen certain parts of your life. So knowing what you need to accomplish in the Spring cycle opens the understanding of how to partner with the elements.
In the East, you can use incense, feathers, songs, and silence. The medicine of the east is anything that moves through the air. In the South, you use candles and fire, anything that brings light. In the West you use the medicines of the water, a chalice, a shell. And in the North, we can use minerals, crystals, and stones. Depending on what you need, this can be a very beautiful and specific ritual for your life. Consciously work with these energies to anchor yourself and your home or office for the upcoming season.
The Spring also heralds the rebirth of the solar Gods. Among them, the Buddha, whose birthday is celebrated with the Wesak Festival, and who is represented on this altar through the drum the central flower rose arrangement is sitting atop. The Harmony Glow candles in the shape of the Buddha head face each of the four directions. The Vase itself is a representation of the Triple Goddess, or trinity, that we see prevalent in nature: creation, sustenance, destruction, and also an homage to the feminine aspect of divinity through Ostara, the Goddess of Spring.
Because our Spring Altar is a celebration of the Earth element, in addition to more traditional and symbolic representations of the directions, there are extra crystals in the North. Also, to honor all of our blooming we have flowers and leaves, the highest artwork of spirit and nature.
Also present on the altar are the Spring astrological symbols: Aries, Taurus, and Gemini, and their respective rulers: Mars, Venus, and Mercury. They are metaphor of what is blossoming for all of us in the coming months, the arc of how it will unfold, and how to partner with the energy behind it harmoniously.
No matter what is happening in your life, honoring the energy of the season, allowing yourself to be fully present with it, and creating a sacred space to hold your vision, is a wise investment of your energy and beautiful way to connect to life.
To learn more about altars and how to work with them, join me May 22 at The Alchemist's Kitchen for "Create Your Altar." Let’s plant our collective seeds, root for each other, and watch other bloom into the beautiful beings that we are.
To create an altar of your own, we have just the thing. Shop our Altar Picks here and bring some altar magic into your home.
Check out this interview with Nicole on smudging.
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