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What gets you out of bed in the morning? No, I don’t mean the soul-destroying sound of an alarm clock. I mean, what are you so passionate about that you can’t wait to start the day?

Astrologically, we look to our natal Mars for the style and nature of our passions. It’s all very well as an adult utilising this energy, but what if, like me, you have Mars in the third house? How was this expressed in early childhood? Apparently, my dad used to think I was really cute…until I learnt to stand with my hands on hips, stamp my foot, and say ‘no!’

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Me at about three years of age with my sister Heidi.

 

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My Mars in the third house of communication is active on a daily basis as I make my living as a writer, author, journalist, novelist and ceremony writer. As a young child, I learnt to spell words quickly. Before that, though, before words became my playthings with which to write stories and poems, I exercised my Mars in other ways that, looking back, were clearly emphasising its placement in house three.

 

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My mother regularly sent me to the neighbours’ houses (local community, 3rd house) because I talked so much. She reckons her ears needed a rest, so off I went and visited the housewives close by. I chatted. For hours.

I had no interest in playing dolls or wearing pretty pink dresses. I was booted out of ballet class, me and my stupid frilly tutu, for not being able to touch my toes. Mars had other plans anyway. My days were spent playing with Matchbox ™ cars. I built cities in the dirt (I have Sun and Mercury in Capricorn) and drove my cars along the roads I made (3rd house).

 

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In my local community, Mars spoke up. Ably supported by my friendly Sagittarius ascendant, I’d stand at the front gate every afternoon to say hello to the people walking by.

And then we left suburbia and moved rurally to 700 acres.

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My childhood home: 700 hundred acres in rural Australia.

 

Our nearest neighbours were miles away! Never mind. I learnt to talk to myself. I’d spend hours up pepperina trees and climbing eucalyptus trees, jabbering away and ‘creating’ characters to interact with me.

 

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This is the spring-fed creek I played in throughout childhood.

 

By the time I was 11 years old, though, I had four younger siblings, three of whom are boys. Needless to say, their company kept my Mars alive. (The third house covers communication, information, books, early childhood, siblings, media, magazines, driving locally, etc.)

 

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So many trees to climb!

 

As parents, it’s helpful to understand our child’s Mars placement, not just so we can guide them through the toddler years of their first Mars return, without permanently stunting their expression, but so we can help to ensure the energy is adequately expressed. A frustrated Mars (in any part of the natal chart) always leads to trouble. Giving our children effective ‘weaponry’, according to their house placement and sign, can make the world of difference in how they go through life.

I was blessed in childhood to have a mother who filled my bookshelves with all manner of interesting books about past lives, souls, fairies and so on. During my school years, I’d haul bags of books home from the library. My appetite for reading was voracious. My mother also used to play ‘games’ with me, where we’d write creative sentences together. She’d pick two words, and I’d construct descriptive sentences around them.

My little legs learnt to walk the miles that separated us from our nearest neighbours. Oh what adventures awaited me! In rural Australia, my travels would include coming face to face with dingoes, foxes, snakes and goannas. Despite my fear, Mars ensured I kept walking. Kept moving. Kept soldiering on.

My natal Mars found it endlessly fascinating to be inside my neighbours’ houses and to see what they ate, and how they spoke to each other, and in what ways they decorated (or didn’t, as was the case) their homes.

If the third house represents early schooling, how did my Mars fare? Simple: I hated school! I’d feign illness so I could come home, or I’d take off from school and head down to the local river for a swim. It wasn’t that I was stupid or incapable of learning (Mars in Aquarius in the 3rd house is pretty bright, let me assure you), but that I hated having to sit still (Mars doesn’t ‘do’ still) and discuss things that weren’t remotely interesting to me. When I had to give a class talk, my topic was reincarnation. Aquarius. Always that bit different!

Looking back, I’m grateful for the circumstances of my childhood, my siblings, some of my teachers, my enlightened mother, and that I was able to express my need to communicate.

 

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Mars is like our inner battery charger. It allows us to make our way in this world fearlessly and with purpose.

 

Veronika Robinson is a second-generation astrologer, and has a worldwide clientele. She is available by Skype, or in person at her home in Cumbria, for astrology readings. She is available for one-hour readings, or astro-mentoring: 10 weeks of half-hour sessions.
http://veronikarobinson.com/astrologer/

A home is more than a roof over our head, and protection from the weather. It is a physical representation of our inner world. The more we infuse our home with love, care and devotion, the more we will receive these gifts back.

 

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Our home is a vessel to nurture body and soul, however if we don’t take care of it, by keeping it clean, tidy and imbuing it with loving energy, then it becomes a place that doesn’t support us fully and may even deplete our energy and health. If a house contains stagnant ‘energy’ it is not a healthy place to live.

 

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Although it is more likely that someone would have a house blessing to open and purify the energies when they first move into a new building, you can in fact have a house blessing even if you’ve lived in the same place for thirty years.

 

 

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Blessing one’s home is an ancient tradition, and can be done with a celebrant or you can do it on your own. You may have family and friends there to witness the ceremony and rituals you choose.

 

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Most of us leave our homes several times a week and partake of the outside world through work or school, for example, thereby bringing the energies of those experiences back into the home. Some are positive, some not so much. As humans, we are energetic sponges containing all our experiences. When we come home, we symbolically squeeze those energies from the sponge and they infiltrate our living space. Becoming aware of this, we may choose a seasonal or annual house blessing.

 

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Before your home blessing, take the time to declutter and clean the space. This is essential. You are defining a sacred space, and you can only do so when your intention is clear. Clutter is not conducive to clarity or well-being.

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When you have cleared your space, invite guests to stand in a circle in the room you’ve chosen for the main part of the ceremony. If you are the one officiating the ceremony, make sure you have grounded yourself (imagine roots, like those of a strong tree, from your feet going down deep into the centre of the earth, and a white light from the crown of your head reaching to the sky).

 

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Open the ceremony by lighting a beeswax (or plant based) candle. (Standard candles are made of highly toxic ingredients…you don’t want this in your home). Inwardly, imagine the life force of the flame bringing healing energy into the circle.

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You may wish to use an aura spray, such as one from Healing Orchid Essences, or burn some incense.

Begin with the ringing of a bell (three times), or by playing music that feels sacred to you. You may prefer to sing.

Welcome everyone for being present, both as witnesses and participants in this sacred circle of energy, as you bless your home.

You may feel drawn to inviting in the Angels of the Four Directions, and opening all the windows on the sunrise side of your home, to invite the sunlight and life force to flow into the rooms.

 

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Depending on your beliefs, you can invoke a divine presence, angels, ancestresses, or other unseen energies.

State what your intentions are for this home. For example, you may wish for it to resonate with laughter, love and deep friendships. Maybe your desire is for it to provide a quiet sanctuary from a busy lifestyle. Perhaps there has been illness or a death in the home/family, and this ceremony is to bring new life and happiness between the walls. It could be that there has been a redundancy for the main income earner, and that this has caused deep upset and shock in the home. Maybe a new baby has recently joined the family, and you wish for your home to accommodate the energy that they bring.

 

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You may wish to use sage or cedar or lavender to ‘smudge’ the rooms. As you do, make spiral movements, and be sure to include hallways, and areas around doors and windows. If smudging, candles or incense are not an option where you live, you can sprinkle salt or use rose essential oil (added to water in a small spray bottle).

 

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If you have a besom (broom) you can symbolically sweep out the energies of each room.

 

 

 

Sample Invocation:

Dear Home

We cleanse this space, we make it safe.

We banish all negativity, and replace it with love, hope, happiness and harmony.

May no one go hungry in this home.

May no one experience loneliness here.

May we always have everything we need.

May abundance be expressed here.

We bless you. We love you. We honour you.

Thank you for protecting us from harm, and holding our heartfelt desires in your safekeeping.

We give you love.

We invite friendship, family, food and fun to be lived and celebrated here.

We give thanks for this home.

Blessed Be.

Consider what rituals would feel meaningful for you. For example, you may wish for everyone to choose a quartz crystal from a bowl, and place one in each room of the home. You might choose to burn a tealight candle in the four corners of the garden, scattering a handful of sea salt around each one, to protect your home.

Together, you may wish to craft a pentacle (five-pointed star, representing fire, earth, water, air and spirit) to hang above the hearth. Perhaps it could be decorated with gemstones or feathers.

 

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You may invite each guest to grant a blessing, prayer, poem, wish or intention in one of the rooms.

Each person who lives there may say:
I am (name), and I live, move and have my being in this beautiful home. This home is my sanctuary.

Asking each guest to choose an angel card is a lovely way of invoking celestial energy. You could then place each one on a small House Blessing altar, along with your candle and anything else that feels meaningful, such as a loaf of home-made bread or cake to represent people always having plenty to eat.

Consider which music or sound to include in your ceremony: singing bowls, healing mantras, drumming, singing, chanting, bell ringing. These sounds are deeply purifying and will transform the energy of the space.

On your altar, you may wish to place branches of cedar or sage or a small vase of flowers.

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Closing the circle
Thank your unseen guests, and express gratitude to all who are there.

“May this circle be open, but unbroken. Blessed Be.”

***

 

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When I officiate a house blessing, I include readings, prayers or blessings, and talk about the family’s intentions for the home. The ceremony has structure, and features elements and rituals that are meaningful to each member of the family.

Veronika Robinson has been officiating ceremonies since 1995. She has a deep love of the sacred, and derives great joy from creating, writing and officiating ceremonies for people. She specialises in handfastings, but is equally at home conducting more formal weddings, as well as namings, home blessings, blessingways, vow renewals, funerals and memorials. Veronika officiates sacred and inspirational ceremonies throughout Cumbria, northern Lancashire and Southern Scotland, and is particularly fond of outdoor ceremonies. www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant

If you’re a bride and groom with a fondness for Nature, then it’s likely that a woodland wedding is most definitely something you’d consider.

 

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In the UK, it’s surprising how many couples are still unaware that there are alternatives to a church wedding or one in a registry office or registered hotel. In much the same way as you might register a baby’s birth and then have a naming ceremony later, or register a loved one’s death and choose a special venue for the funeral ceremony, the same goes for a wedding. Do the legal ‘contract’ at the registry office, but have the wedding in the place of your dreams.

 

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Why a woodland wedding?

A study in 2004 showed that people who walked in woodland had lowered blood pressure, heart rate and an improved immune system. Those who stopped to admire a woodland view for 20 minutes had a 13% reduction in the stress hormone cortisol. The Japanese call this forest bathing (shinrin-yoku). So, while your guests are witnessing you say ‘for as long as this love shall last’, you’re all being imbued with the positive energy of a woodland.

 

 

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Have you ever noticed how differently you feel when you’re out in Nature compared to when you’ve been in the car for a while or in a shopping centre? All around us are molecules, invisible to the human eye, known as negative ions, which are tasteless, have no odour, and which we breathe in. By breathing in these ions, a biochemical reaction happens once they reach our bloodstream. In turn, serotonin is released which allows us relief from stress or depression, and lifts our energy.

 

 

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Negative ions help to increase the flow of oxygen to our brain. When this happens, we feel lighter, alert and have more mental stamina.

 

 

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Many people have become desensitised to the artificial nature of the life they live. If you’re someone who must have fresh air in a room, you’re sensitive to negative ions and often feel euphoric when in the heart of Nature.
Negative ions are felt most tangibly after a thunderstorm, near falling or flowing water, waves lapping on the seashore, in a woodland, Summer rain, snow fall, in sunshine, and when plants produce water evaporation.

 

 

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You might think the word positive means ‘good’, but in the case of ions, the opposite is true. These ions range from germs, viruses, dust, bacteria, pollen, cooking odours, to toxic residues from furnishings and pets.

So not only is a woodland wedding a great choice ecologically and aesthetically, it’s great for your health.

A woodland wedding can be beautiful and simple, allowing you an elegant and natural backdrop to the essence of your relationship. The natural colours from the earth, such as greens, tans, browns and off white can be incorporated into your wedding designs. You can use moss or twigs as centre pieces. Why not create a wedding arch from wood or branches? With a woodland as your décor, you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful wedding setting.

 

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Veronika Robinson has been officiating weddings since 1995. She trained at Unity Church in Auckland, New Zealand, and was authorised to conduct legal weddings under the New Thought Ministries umbrella. She has a deep love of the sacred, and derives great joy from creating, writing and officiating ceremonies for people. She specialises in handfastings, but is equally at home conducting more formal weddings, as well as namings, blessingways, vow renewals and funerals. Veronika officiates ceremonies throughout Cumbria, northern Lancashire and Southern Scotland, and is particularly fond of outdoor ceremonies. www.veronikarobinson.com/celebrant

 

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Are you looking for a celebrant in Cumbria? I trained as a celebrant in 1995 (Auckland, New Zealand), and am available to officiate ceremonies throughout Cumbria: weddings, handfastings, same-sex unions, vow renewals, namings, housewarmings, graduations, coming of age, crone ceremonies, funerals, memorials and any other rite of passage.

If you need to organise a funeral or memorial service, I am happy to work with your chosen funeral director or can work directly with families who wish to be autonomous from a funeral home and plan a DIY ceremony.

I’m a member of the Association of Independent Celebrants, and featured as a preferred supplier on Easy Weddings.

I offer a reduced rate for Wednesday Weddings for those couples planning to marry midweek.

Please do get in touch if you’d like an obligation-free chat in person or by Skype about your ceremony plans. ~ Veronika x

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For 17 years I have been blessed to live in gorgeous Cumbria. Although Australian born and raised, this part of the world has stolen a place in my heart. From the gentle bosom-like fells to the dramatic Lake District hills, forests, streams, tarns, lakes and meadows, this part of the world offers so many beautiful places for a couple to take their wedding vows.

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Do you want to get married:

At sunrise on the Summer Solstice?
Beneath the stars on New Year’s Eve?
In an apple orchard?
Barefoot on the beach?
In an ancient woodland?

 

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In a luxury hotel?
An old stone chapel?
By the fireplace in a converted barn?

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In a candlelit labyrinth?
Inside an old castle?

 

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On a boat?
In a wildflower meadow?
At a Druid’s stone circle?

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As an independent celebrant, I am free to marry you any time, and at the place of your dreams.

Why choose me as a celebrant?

I offer personalised, heart-felt ceremonies created, written & officiated especially for you. I’m a specialist in ritual, & have been officiating weddings since 1995.

For as long as I can remember, I have always felt a sense of respect for ceremonies and rituals which honour the human spirit. Having officiated across three countries, for more than twenty years, I am skilled at bringing purpose and intention to each ceremony.

My role is to seamlessly create a sacred space, and I do so practically and intuitively using a sense of craft and pace. I am there to hold the energy, and to offer structure.

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I trained as a celebrant at Unity Church, Auckland, New Zealand in the early 1990s, and have officiated ceremonies in all manner of places, such as a Maori Marae in New Zealand, public gardens in New Zealand and Australia, Ironage replica roundhouse, bushlands, meadow, private gardens, by a river, public and private buildings, and a stone circle in Yorkshire.

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If you’re planning to get married in Cumbria, but live overseas or in another county, that’s no problem at all. We can use Skype to ensure all your wedding plans for the ceremony come together seamlessly.

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Ceremonies from the Heart

Veronika Robinson | Independent Celebrant

http://veronikarobinson.com/celebrant/index.shtml

E: veronikarobinson (at) hotmail (dot) com

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Member of the Association of Independent Celebrants
Featured on Easy Weddings

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The stiff, British upper lip, and that need to be ‘dignified’ during a funeral, may, at last, slowly be giving way to authentic grief. Unexpressed tears become acidic in the organs, and are of no benefit to anyone. Funerals, when done with a personal touch, offer a way to bring family and friends together to share in mourning that is honest and uninhibited.

 

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Template, cookie-cutter style funerals are, bit by bit, becoming a thing of the past as people start to realise that they can create a ceremony which honours their loved one and their beliefs in a way that is true to them. Most funerals last for about 20-30 minutes. It’s no time at all to sum up a person’s life, let alone celebrate it, and yet, in many cases due to the choice of venue, this is what we must do.

Bringing personal, heart-felt ritual to a ceremony is vital if we intend to support the healing side of grief.

A funeral/memorial is a major part of acknowledging that a loved one has died. Gathering with others, we face our grief. A funeral somehow makes the death ‘more real’.

 

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That moment, always so painful, when the curtain closes or the coffin is lowered, confirms what we have been experiencing. Our loved one is gone.

Authentic grief is when mind, body and soul align to understand that our life has changed, and our loved one is no longer here (at least in the sense we understand it, physically).

When we are participants and witnesses in a personalised funeral, we are given space to focus on the loss and start the process of living with the change.

Grieving is a time in which we have to adjust to the change of status, in terms of the relationship we once had with the deceased, to living with memories. One of the beautiful things that can come out of a funeral is the sharing of memories. We each have stories to tell, and when we share these with others, it helps to build a fuller picture of the deceased and how they lived on this earth.

 

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At my father’s funeral, I heard many stories about him that I hold close in my heart. It’s always special to have other people’s insights into a loved one.

 

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As an astrologer, I am interested in Saturn’s recent ingress into the zodiac sign of Sagittarius, for this is the part of us which seeks meaning. This is where we ask the big questions: Why? What is the meaning of this? Why did this happen? What happens after death? Perhaps over the next couple of years, during this transit, more and more of us will be seeking the meaning of life more than we ever have.

I do believe the ‘why’ questions become an important stepping stone for the bereaved.

Having said goodbyes to several people in my life recently, it only serves to reinforce that old calling card of mortality. We are all dying. Some of us sooner than others. Having three friends with major health issues has only amplified this message for me, and the need to enjoy every single day.

Death, dying, saying goodbye. These are as important in life as birth, puberty, graduation, weddings, and so on. If anything, they remind us to hold life as sacred. Being able to grieve authentically, at a funeral and elsewhere, is vital to moving onwards.

When someone we love dies, there can be an inner voice that wants to yell at the world ‘stop! Don’t you know (name) has just died?’ A funeral is one of the few times in our grieving journey when the world, or a small part of it, does stop for a short time…long enough for us to say good bye. Our attention becomes focussed on this dedicated grieving ritual.

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When my father was killed in a car accident almost four years ago, I flew the long-haul flight to Australia. I was looking forward, in amongst the pain, to seeing my mother who I’d not seen for years. Although my parents had been divorced for a long time, I knew she’d be there. After all, she had eight grieving children. The only thing was: she didn’t come to the funeral. Her phone went off the hook. It was only after the funeral that she made contact again. My mother hates funerals. She’s not alone there, of course, but she lost a few siblings in childhood in war-time Germany and spent much of her childhood crying. Grief hurts. There’s no denying that. And, to be honest, even the less vain amongst us don’t want to be seen with red puffy eyes and mucusy noses!

A funeral is a way of not only saying farewell, but of welcoming in those in your community so they can love, support and nourish you. Of course, we can never take away another’s grief. That’s impossible. We can, however, say how sorry we are for the loss. We can bake a cake or make a pot of soup. We can bring flowers. We can offer to do housework or errands. There’s no end to the support we can offer. And perhaps, in losing our loved one, we have moments of gaining more love from elsewhere ~ if we allow ourselves to do so. Our broken, wounded heart needs tending, and it is too easy to close ourselves off to the love that is all around us. No one can ever replace our loved one, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find succour in other types of love and affection.

At a funeral I officiated recently, I overheard one of the mourners say to someone, who she was surprised to see there: “What are you doing here?” (The funeral was quite some distance from where the guest lived). Her reply was simple: “I’m here to support you.”

And that is why we go to funerals. To support each other. To symbolically or literally hold another’s hand and say “I feel your pain.”

 

 

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There is still such a fear and taboo around funerals. The tide is changing, though, and if you ever find yourself at a funeral where it has been personalised and officiated with reverence, you might just come to see how deeply healing and transformative such a ceremony can be.

http://veronikarobinson.com/celebrant/funerals-memorials.shtml

 

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For as long as humans have walked this earth, I have no doubt they have created ceremonial spaces which included an altar. Many people in the modern world probably associate an altar as the front table in a Christian church. Others, still, consider an altar to be some sort of weird spooky tool used by bad-ass witches and others who wish to sacrifice something to a deity.

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As a white witch (you know, the good sort), and celebrant, I see and use an altar as a sacred space: a focal point for my daily life, or for a specific ceremony or ritual. If I was officiating a ceremony for someone, there would be an altar involved. This defined space features items which would have meaning to the person, or items symbolic of the event they are honouring.

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An altar may be used to honour your ancestors and ancestresses, or it may be as a way to focus on improving your health.

It may be because you’re pregnant and using it to visualise an ecstatic birth.

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Your altar may be a general one for a beautiful life.

For three years after my father was killed in a car accident, I had an altar with his photo and items that were significant to him. Each time I passed this altar, I would bow my head and say ‘hello’ to my dad. I do believe it was a vital part of navigating the murky world of grief, and deeply healing. It allowed me to hold him close while at the same time letting him go.

An altar may be created in your garden as a way of honouring Mother Earth.

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How about an altar in the kitchen? This can become a focus for divine energies to infuse your cooking with love, devotion and care.

My altars generally feature the four elements: earth, fire, water and air.

Earth can literally be dirt, or items gathered from nature such as crystals and gemstones. Or it may include items grown from the earth.
Fire is generally a candle, though it can be an incense stick or even a picture of fire.
Water can be contained in a vase with flowers, or perhaps a small bowl.
Air can be signified by a feather.

The beauty of an altar is that it is unique to the person who creates it, and is an expression of their inner vision. It can be as small as the tiniest shelf or nook, and as wide as the beach.

 

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