"Alters and Their Purposes". That was the name of the Adult Education for Pagans seminar I went to on Sunday. I had no idea what to expect, but ironically enough, it was yet another group of oldish hippie-ish folk (similar to what I have been encountering at the other faiths I have been visiting) and we met in the local library.
About two years ago I got up the courage to check out a book about Wicca from the library. I don't remember the title, "Wicca for Beginners" or something like that. I was searching for "The Divine Feminine" and had really enjoyed Sue Monk Kidd's Dance of the Dissident Daughter (I'll have to blog about that book sometime.) But I did have a harder time relating to most of the books I found about modern paganism- the appropriation of ancient culture's gods and goddess for use in spells for prosperity and love... I just couldn't get into it. The book that I enjoyed the most, The Body Sacred, ironically was also the last pagan book I read as it really brought home to me that a faith surrounding the Goddess (or Lady) had several problematic and contradictory aspects just like the patriarchal tradition I was questioning.
But yet when I heard about this Wiccan seminar, I couldn't resist, ditched the last session of General Conference to go have a "pagan experience". Like the books I had read, there was a lot that just didn't resonate with me and the gendered language that the group leader used (equating feminine with passivity and masculine with action etc...) was off-putting. But the concept of making a special space in a little nook or cranny of the home, collecting items that have meaning to help focus, remind... Well, I have had that thought before of making a little alter/shrine/something but never quite known exactly how to go about it. And I still don't, even after attending this seminar, but it is back to the front of my mind. One of my flickr friends posted a picture of her family alter in her home and that really stuck with me. Also back to front of my mind are the various alters of Christianity and Mormondom, sacrificial alters of the old testament, the sacrament table, the marriage alter (and the many times I passed out at that marriage alter while doing work for the dead in the temple. did anyone else ever do that? Something about kneeling for long durations, I passed out almost every time. Weird.)
Anyhow, in honor of the various little connections between Christianity and Pagan, and for your viewing entertainment, a little Dar Williams: