Welcome to the fourth installment of my spiritual room updates! This is the last one focusing on the elements; tomorrow's post will tie everything together and give a few panorama shots so stay tuned!
In previous posts in this series, I've talked about not needing stuff, where to get stuff, who helped me with my stuff and the stuff outside of my spiritual room. That's a lot of stuff! Today, I'd like to discuss not stuff. I'd like to discuss life. Specifically, plants!
|And I left out my lucky bamboo! Shame on me!|
If you'll notice, I skipped some space between the fire and water corners. This occupies that space. For me, my religion is strongly tied with life. This means that I have to have some sort of living connection with my spiritual room as well. With my impeccable green thumb, it's only natural that this includes plants. While I have many plants that are plants I simply connect with, such as elephant palms, lucky bamboo and cactus, I also like to grow things I can eat. This participates in the health segment of my path's aim.
This year, I'm starting a balcony garden. This includes things like celery, lettuce, spinach, cucumber and more. I've started them in miniature green houses and plan to move them outside into the appropriate containers when it gets warmer. I can't wait to have a salad built from my own hard work!
For me, gardening is also a way to relieve stress. I enjoy caring for things, as noted by the fact that I have four familiars, so plants naturally fall into that category. My garden may not need daily weeding or require me to be outside right now, but it certainly connects me with nature and earth.
Which brings me to my next segment!
First let us see the original corner of earth:
And that same northern corner today:
The original corner was simply a table of tea lights for the better part. Today, the corner of earth is home to my Memory and Ancestor Altar, an altar dedicated to those who have passed through the veil.
On the left side, you can see photographs of my family including the oldest photograph I have of Benjamin B Manley born 1826 and died 1872. On the right are pictures of close friends and pets who have passed as well. It also includes jewelry and trinkets from friends and family, as well as newspaper clippings.
While I'm not going to go far into the meaning of each part of my ancestor altar as I already have a full post about that, I'd like to point out a few things. First and foremost is how often I change things. When I first put together my ancestor altar in October, this is what the main altar looked like:
And this is what it looks like today:
I found the polished black ram's horn at a thrift store for a few dollars. When I was at Aquarius, I found their selection. I would have paid upwards of $30 to $40 for the same horn. Worth the purchase of course, but I managed to find it for a bit cheaper. Lucky me!
Before Samhain, I pulled my late tortie Nyx's memory box from our storage closet and found several items I wanted to incorporate into the altar. This included her tags, paw print plaque and one of the two cans of tuna we dropped off at the vet hoping it would entice her to eat. They had written her name on it and I just can't bring myself to throw it out. I know one day I'll have to. Until then, it belongs on the altar.
Of course, I also try to keep plants around the earth area because of its representation. Unfortunately, that area doesn't get as much light as I'd prefer. This elephant palm is in the perfect place to catch the sunset and seems to be thriving just fine.
As for storage, you'll always find the salt we spread around the outside of the circle here. It makes the most sense as salt is representative of earth. Underneath the altar, I store the herbs I use most often in spell work as well as ceramic boxes I've created. You can also find the ceramic bowl my great grandmother made. I originally had it on the altar but ran out of space. I need more places for things! Finally, on the right side, you'll find my acoustic guitar. This was gifted to me by a family member when I was three. I'm not very adept at playing it, but I can carry a decent tune. The piano is more of my thing, but I can't get my grandfather's piano into this small apartment three floors up, sadly.
So which familiar do I associate with the element of earth? There's only one left: Zeus.
Zeus is my tubby tabby, a Maine Coon mix that emerged from a storm drain during a lightning storm one day (hence his name). He wasn't always tubby; in fact, when we first met, he was severely malnourished from being a dumpster diver. However, he walked past Aaron, rubbed up against Artie, then came up to my feet and grabbed my ankle, burying his face into my foot as if to say "You are my mom. Take me home." I knew I was picking up Artie for a few days after I made the decision to keep him. We fostered Hermes for a month before officially taking him in. And with Apollo, I was uncertain we would be keeping him for a couple days. But with Zeus, I picked him up and took him home immediately without question. ... Well, I knocked on a few doors, found out he'd been a stray for years, then took him home. I'd never want to deprive someone of their pet!
He is mine and I am his. Always. Never were two souls more meant to be. Except my husband and me, of course.
So why is Zeus an earthy soul? Beyond his warm colored coat and green eyes, Zeus is the most practical of all of our pets. He's a level-headed worrywart obsessed with food, scratches between his shoulder blades and his mom. If I reprimand one of the cats for doing something wrong, he will enforce it. I never have to nail someone more than once; Zeus will take care of it after that. I've seen Zeus pull Hermes off of our full grown elephant palm after I've told him to stop chewing on it. When Apollo went through his phase of splashing water from the water bowl, it only took Zeus watching me reprimand him once before he started chasing Apollo off every time he did it. Zeus is my enforcer. Despite this, Zeus is more of a sleeping cat when not upholding mom's word. He will play back but he doesn't start fights. Even when Apollo or Hermes attempt to get him riled, Zeus typically keeps his cool until a breaking point. Cat can finish a fight, believe me, but he makes it abundantly clear that he doesn't really want to if he doesn't have to.
|If he were human, he would probably kill me for placing such an unmanly photo of him online.|
But he's also very gentle and loving. Zeus loves everyone and everything that walks through our door. He has initiated every good relationship between each of our pets with a head bump and a purr. He breaks up fights between Apollo and Hermes, and pretty soon everyone is cuddling together. I have to believe that it's because of Zeus.
In the end, Zeus is wise beyond his (almost) six years. And his link with me that is absolutely undeniable inside and outside of the spiritual room makes him my familiar.
I'll end this segment with a picture of him in his appropriate corner.