Tuesday, October 30, 2007

How to Make a Small Altar for Veneration of The Ones Who Have Already Gone

First thing you do is find someone to venerate.
This is usually someone who has passed on.
That is they have loosed their earthly coil.
Or to put it crudely they have died.

This could be a parent.
It could be a pet.
It could be someone you knew.
It could be someone you miss.

Maybe a Saint.
Maybe a Prophet.
Maybe a God.
Maybe a Goddess.

But in the end it is your decision.

Now you got to decide where to put it.

Put it somewhere where you will see it often.
Maybe the living room.
Maybe a bedroom.
You could put it anywhere.

Most people like to use a small table.
They cover it with a white cloth.
White stands for purity.
Maybe that is not appropriate.
Use a different color.
I myself would not use a plaid cloth.

Now you have to decorate the altar.
Start with a foto or image of the venerated one.
Place it at the back of the altar.
Facing toward you.
Use a picture where the eyes follow you.
Even if you are no longer in the room.
They are always watching you.

Next you need candles.
Get some nice ones.
Beeswax is good.
Air freshener candles would not be my first choice.
Candles stand for light.
Light was one of the first things that ever existed.
So it is a nice touch to connect the venerated one with the cosmic everexisting primordial light that got rid of the dark that had been oppressing the universe for a long time before the light came to town.

While still talking candles some people like candlabras.
Not me.
Too messy.

Also do not stick a candle in an old bottle.
Unless the venerated one was a pirate.

Flowers in a vase are nice.
Here I would use the plastic ones.
The fresh ones are more work.
You have to change the water or it will smell bad.
Or you have to keep getting new flowers.
Plastic is nice.
It is a symbol for eternity.
You should dust the flowers once a week.

The aforementioned things are just a starting point.

You can personalize it in many ways.
I have seen plates of food.
Sometimes real.
Sometimes plastic.
Toy animals can be a nice addition.
A poem that expresses an appropriate emotion.
Incense helps add an air of mystery.
I saw a beer can once.
Ditto for a vhs tape.

The altar tells a story.
It is a place of quiet reflection.
It is a symbol that we have not forgotten.
The venerated one's memory can be located here.
Depending upon your belief the venerated one can aid you.
Maybe not.

What do you do when you are tired of the altar?
Take a foto of it.
Maybe a short video of you talking about it.
This then becomes a nice keepsake.
Then you can tear the altar down.
Store it in the garage.
Maybe you will be bring it out again.
I don't know.
That is up to you.

But remember the foto of the venerated one.
The eyes will be following you.
Even after you put it in storage.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Where Can you Spend the Winter if it is 1941 and You are in Northern Minnesota?

I won't be going back. Not anytime soon. Maybe never. It was August 1964. Boundary Waters. Not sure what lake it was. Not Moose Lake. Maybe part of the Man chain of lakes. This Man. That Man. No Man. I don't remember. It was a grey day.We beached our canoes so we could have lunch. Spam, rye crackers and some raisins. After lunch, I walked up a little trail. Maybe twentyfive yards from the beach was a clearing. There was a small cabin. An emergency cabin. Maybe 10 feet by 10 feet. One door and one window. Opened the door and walked in. Wooden frame bed. Rolled up brown wool blanket. Potbellied stove vented to the outside. Small table. One chair. Cupboard. Flour. Sugar. Salt. Flour. Matches. Knife. Fork. Spoon. Bowl. Cup Plate. Lots of names and dates were carved on the wooden cupboard. Jack 1955. Bill. Larry and Greg 1951. You get the idea.

Somebody had carved a longer message.

"Had to spend the winter of 1941 here. I came here too late in the Fall and got snowed in. I should have left this place earlier. I am grateful for this cabin. I have plenty of firewood and am keeping warm. I made some snow shoes. I have been catching some game with some snares that I made. It is quiet here. I am leaving here as soon as it thaws. My canoe is in good shape. Eric December 1941"

Just below was another message.

"I made it out of here OK. When I got home they told me that there was a war going on. I joined the Army and spent the war in the Pacific. I came back here to find a little peace and quiet. I spent the winter of 1946 here. Eric"

I walked back to the beach and we headed for the next portage.