Altars/ Personal Sanctums

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Tau Malachi
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Shrines, Altars & Sanctuaries

#1 Postby Tau Malachi » Mon Nov 28, 2005 3:06 pm

Greetings!

Yes, indeed, shrines, altars and sanctuaries are strongly encouraged in the Sophian Tradition – they are skillful means for the spiritual life and practice, and may serve as talismanic vehicles of the Divine Presence and Power in our homes. Tending a shrine, altar or sanctuary, itself, is a form of spiritual practice and very beneficial. Describing the form a shrine altar or sanctuary may assume is a bit difficult, for it will reflect the form of spiritual practice the initiate has taken up – their own way upon the path. For some it may be as simple as an image of the Heart Tzaddik or Heart Partzuf, and a devotional offering of lights, incense, flowers and such, the shrine or altar decorated according to their own creative inspiration. With some continuums of spiritual practice, more detailed instructions might be given to an initiate by an elder of tau, specific to the initiate’s spiritual practice. For example, if the initiate is studying and practicing the art of divine theurgy taught in the tradition, then there will be specific symbols on their altar, and they will likely set a room aside for their theurgic practice, if possible. So there is no set rule for this among us, but it depends upon the initiate’s practice and what will serve to facilitate and support her or his practice. Generally speaking, however, receiving basic teachings and instructions on building a shrine, altar or sanctuary, based on the nature of one’s spiritual practice, it is a creative affair among Sophians.

It is considered ideal among Sophians if an entire room can be set aside as a holy sanctuary or “chamber,” but when this is not possible initiates are encouraged to have a shrine or altar in their home. Frequently, Sophians may have more than one shrine or altar in their homes, but it is a matter of individual preference and available resources.

Blessings & shalom!
Tau Malachi
Sophia Fellowship
Ecclesia Pistis Sophia

greg27241
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2005 4:50 pm
Location: DFW, Texas

Altars and things

#2 Postby greg27241 » Sat Dec 10, 2005 6:47 pm

Hi all,

I am new and I really like this site. I am reading Tau Malachi's book [The Gnosis of the Cosmic Christ] and I am enjoying it very much. I am quite surprized at how much of it strikes a chord with me at a very deep level...eerie almost. Regarding altars, I would like some feedback. I have a table (altar) which includes a couple of oil lamps, a live plant, a crystal Cross, an incense burner, and a statute of the Buddha. The Cross is in the center (as the Christos is the center), the oil lamps are on the front right and left of the Cross (showing that the Light that is ultimately God). Behind the Cross on the left is the live plant (Divine energy in creation), immediately behind the Cross is the incense burner (I burn incense made by a women's cooperative in India seeking to lift their standard of livingin support of those seeking to find dignity in this world). In the back right is the statue of the Buddha to show solidarity with those of other faith traditions seeking connection with that we call God. This is all probably more than you wanted to know.

Unfortuately, I do not have a room to set aside, but I do often take my altar outside. I am pretty consistant with that even when the weather is difficult--the only exception is when the weather is really bad, then I do it inside. Do you have any other recommendations for my practice in this area? I could talk about what my specific practice entails, but I won't make this post any longer. I started doing a meditation exercise several years ago using a Zen model and have "Christianized" it over the years, but still feel a connection with the Mahayana folks. Your suggestions, thoughts and comments are appreciated. Blessings, greg :) [/u]

Tau Malachi
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Christ/Buddha

#3 Postby Tau Malachi » Sun Dec 11, 2005 10:07 am

Greetings Greg, and welcome!

Your altar sounds quite delightful. Thank you for sharing some of the intention for the objects upon it, for in so doing you point to an important teaching on building altars or shrines: that everything we place on our altar or in our shrine has a clear and consciousness intention. Truly, it is the power of intention that makes things sacred and meaningful.

The potential portability of small altars and shrines is a great asset, for sacred space can be established virtually anywhere, as though the altar or shrine is a talisman for the extension of light. Ultimately, it is we who are the living sanctuary or temple, which our altar or shrine reflects – in the Christos, Logos and Sophia, we are never lacking.

As Gnostic Christians, though our mystical and symbolic language is Jewish and Christian, we find a strong resonance with Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism – to us, the terms “Christ” and “Buddha” have a synonymous meaning, Enlightened Being/Gnostic Being. So, of course, as I read the description of your altar it brought a smile to my face.

What is wonderful about many Eastern traditions is that the golden thread of actual realization or enlightenment remains vibrant and alive. Unfortunately, that golden thread often seems obscured or lost in many expressions of the Western Mystery tradition, present in name only, rather than actualized and manifest. This may contribute to the greater resonance we experience with Eastern schools than many of the Western schools.

Regardless of the wisdom tradition we are inclined to pursue as individuals, the key seems to be the development of the spiritual life and practice that facilitates actual progress towards illumination. Your union of Mahayana and Christian ideals no doubt serves to this end – it is a powerful combination that likely drives deeper into the mystery of the Gospel and Christos.

Following the Mahayana ideal I’d imagine you might resonate very well with the Giving and Receiving Practice for the generation of the Sacred Heart. It is based upon teachings of the mystery of the crucifixion – taking on the suffering of others and sharing our joy.

May our practice come to fruition in the Gnosis of Mother Sophia – Mother Wisdom; amen.

Blessings & shalom!
Tau Malachi

Sophia Fellowship

Ecclesia Pistis Sophia

lleyr
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2004 4:46 pm
Location: Mount Vernon, Oh
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#4 Postby lleyr » Thu Jan 12, 2006 10:49 am

Greetings Tau Malachi & All,

I recently created a chamber for meditation and ritual in my home and thought it might be helpful to others to hear what I did. At first I was daunted by the fact that I didn't have a room not in use.

My basement is partially finished with an "L" shaped area for storage.
The L is pretty big, but contains a lot of "stuff" including the hot water tank, etc.

What I did was clear out a 9x9 section of the "L" that had 3 walls and was then open on the other end. Since this is a basement area it had cinder block walls, cement floor, and open rafters for the ceiling. I tiled the floor in the 9x9 area using marble tile left over from a bathroom project. I then bought bulk fabric at JoAnn Fabrics and covered the 3 walls from floor to ceiling. I also created a wall out of fabric on the open end. I covered the ceiling in fabric also. I used an industrial stapler to staple the fabric to the beams in the ceiling and kept the fabric at least an inch from the walls just in case there was any dampness. This created a bright, enclosed space.

I put stands at each of the four walls and put statues, incense burners, and many candles on the stands (away from the fabric walls so I don't start a fire). I also hung a kabbalah poster and an icon from fishing line attached to the ceiling on opposite walls. Each wall and stand is in a different color and has a statue of an Arch Angel. I also have an altar on the top of one of the stands that has a Magdalene statue, a Sophia statue, A Celtic Cross, and a statue of Yeshua.

The fabric picks up the smell of the incense and it is impossible to know you are in a basement area when in the chamber.

This has been an excellent area for mediatation as it is well away from the noise of my teenage sons. It is also conducive to slipping into meditation more quickly because the room seems to be picking up positive energy with each use.

Shalom!
Mark

Tamara
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Location: Philadelphia area

#5 Postby Tamara » Fri Jan 13, 2006 8:55 am

Wow, Mark!

This sounds like a very magical space. When I need some creative advise I'll know who to ask from now on.

Shalom,
Tamara
Student, tell me: what is God? The breath within the breath.

lleyr
Posts: 51
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2004 4:46 pm
Location: Mount Vernon, Oh
Contact:

#6 Postby lleyr » Fri Jan 13, 2006 9:29 am

Thanks Tamara...

I just let the Mother Spirit take over and it's what ended up!

Blessings & Shalom!
Mark

Jordan
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Location: Ontario, Canada
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#7 Postby Jordan » Tue Sep 12, 2006 2:45 pm

I'm new on these forums, and just thought I'd share a description of my altar incase any one wants to draw any ideas from it:

At the centre of my altar is what I call my "Covenant Box" its an Egyptian looking box that I had been given as a gift a long time ago and it reminded me of the Ark, so I keep a certain promise between myself and God within it. On top of the Box sits a statue of Mary, it was originally Mother Mary but I painted it red to transform it into Mary Magdalene. Behind the Box against the wall is a dark almost ominous looking mask that I have labelled as "Samael", simply to remind myself of the shadow caused by the Divine Light, and to remind myself that ignorance and other qualities are currently a very real part of me. I have a small fountain on the left, its three jars (i bought it at Green Earth) each jar above the next, each jar is tilted and the water flows from each jar into the one below it. This represents the overflowing love of God that fills a person to the brim until it overflows and touches the next. I have a statue of the Buddha, on the right side.

I have two photograph frames. In the first frame is a picture of Yeshua. I pasted a picture of Mary Magdalene on the other side of his picture to represent their unity, and now and then i switch what image i am displaying. I leave the second photo frame empty, and I consider it a portrait of God or a portrait of the "primordial Christ".

Lastly I have inscence, and a red hand carved jar made of wood that resembeles an apple. To me, this represents the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and I keep certain wisdom sayings within it. I also have two different strips of cloth. The first strip has the name of Yahweh in Hebrew printed on it, I wear it on my wrist when I meditate and pray, and on the second cloth I drew a rose. Sometimes I wear this on my wrist as I go about my day to remind myself of my devotion to St. Mary Magdalene.

This is all on a dresser top in my bedroom, and has grown steadily over the last six months or so. It has been a spiritual experience onto itself as most of these objects were just things lying around my house that slowly started to take a new meaning to me as I added it to the altar. I also find that it has transformed my bedroom into a sacred space....to my parents pleasure I keep my room much cleaner now because I have started to feel that a disorderly room takes away its sacred aura!

Anyways, for anyone just starting an altar I hope this might help!
"O God, I will sing You a new song, sing a hymn to You with a ten-stringed harp"- Psalm 144:9

Silversoul
Posts: 9
Joined: Mon May 22, 2006 10:53 am
Location: Portland, OR

#8 Postby Silversoul » Tue Sep 19, 2006 11:06 am

I just finished building an altar in my room. It is pictured in my avatar, but here is a bigger picture of it:

Image

The altar cloth was made by a tribe in North Vietnam. Not shown in the picture are the Tibetan prayer flags I've placed above it, and the meditation pillow below.

It's definitely affected my spirituality in a big way. I used to forget to take the time to pray and meditate, but now I do it every night. It's really helped me focus my prayers and intentions, and has helped bring balance to my life. It's amazing how much prayer can be affected by set and setting. Creating your own sacred space makes a world of difference.


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