Home altars or shrines were a real source of fascination for me a child, when visiting my Chinese Buddhist family. It was just a normal part of everyday life to spend some moments offering respect to the Buddhas inside and outside the house, so I tried not to make a big deal out of how much it transfixed me, but I was always looking out of the corner of my eye at the ritual and would try to have one ear listening to the mantras while eating my coconut jam on toast.
Now my dad has one in his house too (see above) and I always make sure to light a joss stick and take a few minutes to reflect, be thankful, compose, remember and think about the positive, at the altar when I am back home.
It is a common concept, that also appears in Hindu and Catholic life, bringing a piece of piety, devotion and awe for that which is bigger than you into the ordinary domestic setting.
But actually, a home shrine doesn't have to be an all singing all dancing kind of affair, it does not have to have any link with religion or spirituality, it can literally be a place you have in your everyday home life to take a moment, collect your thoughts and have a little word with yourself about the day ahead.
Simply a designated area to place objects that have special meaning to you, or just make you feel a certain happy or positive way. Perhaps, photos of those far away or you can no longer see - all good shrine material!
So why not give it a try?
It is a very personal thing, so just see this as a little guideline set against how the Buddhists do it, other than that it's all about you.
1. Choose a stable place to set the shrine. It may be a table or a shelf, but be sure to have it at least above head level based on the usual use of the room, anything lower is deemed as disrespectful. So obviously if you are not particularly concerned about the buddhist guidelines, skip this bit, just use a shelf or table that is in a place where things won't get knocked.
2. Ideally it should have two or three levels, with the objects or images you revere the most at the top level.
3. Place your objects and or images onto the top level.
Obviously if you are going for a spiritual element place those symbolic pieces on that level, the lower shelf will be used for offerings to them. But as described, it can be photos of those you love, or objects of nature, art, something you feel deserves your respect or inspires you!
4. Place your offerings on the lower level, traditionally this would be a lit joss stick, candles, a bowl of water, perhaps with a flower in, fruit or a written scripture, but you may want to write your own more personal note.
But the Buddhists say it is not what you offer it is more important that it is done sincerely with a pure heart. OK guys? :)
It is traditional to change the offering water every morning, however, the old water should never go to waste. Use it to water a plant or something. A new cup or bowl should be used for this purpose: glass or crystal is preferable, because the clarity of the water represents clarity of the mind.
If you want to offer incense at the shrine as part of the Buddhist ritual it would be at this point that you recite a mantra, of course you can simply say a personal few words, aloud or in your head and you can then light the incense.
Hopefully this is not too out there for you EE-ers we just thought if you guys love EE then its highly likely that you are free thinking, curious babes who connect with our jewellery design ethos of beautiful objects with meaning and you probably apply that to all areas of your life, so this might appeal. If nothing else it means you get to fiddle around arranging pretty things you like, artfully on a shelf and what self respecting EE-er doesn't like to do that?
Here is EE Alice's own little piece of (super stylish!) tranquility she has created at home too. See, combining her two passions and inspirations, she worships at the shrine of succulents and the spirit of the Goddess. Send us pics of your's!