Sunday, December 31, 2017

Ritual Room 2017 + Meet my Familiars (Image Heavy)


My spiritual and ritual room has been a labor of love, evolving with my own beliefs and maturation over the years.  Before I show you my current spiritual room, I'd like to quickly take a walk down memory lane at previous incarnations of this room, starting all the way back in high school and college with my first altar.


My Spiritual Room: A History

High School and College




My original altar, a solid wood nightstand, was scavenged from someone's curb around fourteen or fifteen years ago.  I originally ensured it played the part of a nightstand during the day by filling it with textbooks and having my boombox and phone on top.  As I aged, I let it become a bit more like an altar, including candles and my BOS, though still artfully disguised.  When I moved out, my husband and I didn't have much room or time for our religions, so we set them aside until...



2012-2013




This was my first real "spiritual room" of sorts.  It's still just a few items and primarily storage, but it worked out well for my needs.  The room itself was large and had a support beam in the middle that served as the center of all of my circles.  This is when I started using lights around the room to symbolize when the circle was open.  Eventually, this rental house sold and we had to leave it.  When we looked at renting apartments, we specifically chose one with enough room that I could take one for my own.



2013-2014





The second and third incarnations of my spiritual room served as more of an altar room.  It was still mostly spiritual and witchy storage, as well as keeping primary altars, such as my ancestor and memory altar.  I also kept my plants here as a small garden.  But, as most of you know, this apartment was dreadful.  I was sick. The pets were sick.  Eventually, we left and decided to try renting houses again.



2014-2015





These awful photos, aside from what you can see in the background of some sabbat posts, are the only reminder I have of the spiritual room from the Witchy Cottage.  The circle room still mostly serves as an altar room here, though I'm beginning to see hints of it turning into what it is today.  I had planned on taking new photos to at least update my blog.  However, shortly after we were told the owner had lost his job and needed to move back in, the basement flooded.




We had to quickly pack it to save the furniture and I lost any chance I had to properly document it.



2016




This looks much closer to my current ritual room.  We can see in this one that I'm shifting away from a conglomerate of random altars and focusing more on the elements and the practicality of the room.  This particular ritual room struggled a lot with placement.  There was no wall for the air side and the fire area suffered immensely with the doorways into the theater and bathroom.  The entire room was a weird amoeba shape that really didn't lend itself to easy access for rituals, but I made do with it.

This ritual room would also flood (along with the theater and bathroom).  After this, we bought a house.  Thanks to the flooding, this would be the last time we ever put the ritual room on the basement level.

Present Day

The ritual room has went through an immense number of transitions and renovations from move to move.  The most common question I receive about it is how I have a whole room of witchcraft supplies and altars.  Honestly?  Eighteen years of the Craft can do that to you.  I certainly don't believe it's necessary to have this much to be a witch.   That being said, my position as a coven leader and a part-time blogger primarily enforce my need for a sustained ritual space with supplies at my finger tips, and our comfortability gives us the privilege of investing in what I decide I want for my Craft.

Without further ado, here's the ritual room as it stands on the last day of 2017 in our new house that we own, Rhoeas Hearth!

The Hearth


Let's start with the center focus of the room: The hearth for which Rhoeas Hearth was named after.  Above on the left, you can see what the fireplace looked like when we moved in compared to the right, which is what it looks like as of New Year's Eve 2017.  A fresh coat of paint to both the old 70s/80s brickwork and the raw wood mantle made for a drastic change - more so, I would say, than the gray paint over the tan for the whole of the house.


The hearth right now serves as a place for my "dead things" collection.  As we move forward to 2018, it may be transformed into my altar to my spirit guide and psychopomp teacher.  It almost already is.


Let's go to the right and move clockwise about the room from here!

East - Air - Hermes


Previously, my ritual room was a collection of altars with the elemental altars of each direction being the primary focus.  That hasn't necessarily changed but the intention behind each directional altar has.  Instead of honoring the element itself, my elemental altars are odes to my familiars.  If we move clockwise from the hearth, we'll find the eastmost altar to Hermes, my familiar of air.


On a walk with my dog in 2011, I discovered Hermes in our mail room.  He had been abandoned just under a year of age, likely in hopes that someone in an apartment complex of nearly 700 would take him in.  We were the winners.  Hermes had no aversion to my other familiar and followed me home without hesitation.

At the time, we had three other animals in a small two bedroom apartment - before the creation of a ritual room was even a thought in my head.  We tried to home Hermes for over a month to no avail;  that is until I heard the astral voice.  Once I knew he had familiarship potential, we vetted him and released him from the back bathroom.  He immediately purred and rubbed up against my other cat familiar and made himself at home.  We pacted shortly after.


By far the longest cat we have, he can touch my shoulders when I'm standing and bending just slightly over.  Hermes is quick on his feet and a bit of a trickster (which is an improvement from his "perching on the wall-mounted flat screen TV" and "knocking a glass of water into my computer to fry my hard drive" days).  We butted heads for the longest time, primarily because he was afraid we would eventually abandon him again.  Once he learned that I was never, ever putting him back in that position, he calmed significantly and is now my loving, if stubborn, 'Ermy.

Because he's an air elemental, he deals primarily with communication.  His specialty is books and practical knowledge - and "bullying" me into doing rituals on his schedule.  At one point, I had planned to each lunch before performing a spell.  Hermes was having none of that.  He meowed loudly throughout the house until I finally started setting up.  Once I did, he ran quickly into the ritual room and laid on my feet.  It had to be done right now.  And so I did.

And then I ate lunch.


Hermes's corner is filled with representations of air - and him.  The birds he chitters at so loudly in the mornings can be seen floating above the lantern for quarter calls and light catchers fill the window space.  Brooms also decorate the area as Hermes has a preference for straw bristles.


He also has an entire bookshelf of his own.  This bookshelf houses half of my books on the Craft, but also has a few altars and candles for 'Ermy.


Altars again focus on the element of air and Hermes's colors of white, like his coat, and gold, like his eyes.  You'll see everything ranging from glittery boxes to feathers, bird statues to bells and more.


I also store my divination items in this area along with two of six crafting bins full of supplies for impromptu spell work compiled by myself and my coven.


The final, and perhaps most important, part is the statuette of Hermes.  I've placed him at the very top of the bookshelf.  As an air elemental, up is the proper direction.  Besides, Hermes prefers the top tiers of both cat trees.  It seemed appropriate.

Herbs, Oils and Stones


Between East and South, I store all of my herbs, oils, stones and a few more crafting bins.


Because the other side has a set of French doors, I had little choice but to place these here.  They fit perfectly like a puzzle!


This altar is forming of its own accord.  Not quite sure what's going on here yet but it's being created around something that has attached to this cow skull I serendipitously came across at a flea market for a mere $20.

Also, I realize now that one of these things is not like the other.  Ignore my inhaler.


I'm still learning exactly what I'm working with here.  This spirit and skull had the privilege of (or rather was insistent on) participating in my main ritual for Gaea Goddess Gathering this year:


Since then, it's been cozy on this altar between elements - in its own kind of liminal space.  I hope to have the time to work more with it in the upcoming year.

South - Fire - Apollo


Oh Apollo, my little derp.


I discovered Apollo on a walk with my dog in 2014 - on the anniversary of my familiar Nyx's death.  Apollo was just six weeks old, no bigger than a stick of butter, and firmly stuck in the mud.  He had been abandoned by his mother for whatever reason (I had the privilege of actually meeting her for some weeks but, on this day, she was nowhere in sight).  I climbed under the walkway and dug him out of the mud.  When he turned one year old, we pacted.


Apollo is... unusual.  He's not quite like other cats in that he does have some disabilities and challenges.  He has cerebral palsy, mild, which affects his ability to climb and walk at times.  He's also... just not quite fully with it as a cat.  But, as a familiar, he's spot on.  He just doesn't communicate like I would expect a familiar should.  After four domestic familiars, one who passed to be a spirit familiar, I became accustomed to how familiarship worked.  Apollo flipped my expectations on its head, creating a whole new way of communicating and an entirely new pathway for energy work and spell work.  It's hard to describe but he completely renovated my Craft.


As a fire elemental, Apollo is much more like the tarry ooze of hot magma than he is a roaring fire or the flicker of candlelight.  He can get fixated, or locked, into certain circumstances and become erratic but mostly, he's just... Well, he's just my 'Pollo.


Items on his bookcase reflect the way he interprets his element: Cauldrons full of charcoal and ash, candle sticks without candles and a little hint of the Other in skulls, moons and red flowers.


This is also where I place awards my circle has won - because Apollo represents struggles we have triumphed over despite our apparent challenges.  Seems appropriate given his situation.


Apollo also has a small companion altar full of candle storage.  I never light these candles in honor of him specifically because that's not what they're for.


On top of this mini-altar, you'll find a resting Apollo figurine.  Instead of a candle, I've placed a small vial of ashes from that initial letter to Nyx.  This connects my two fire familiars to this altar and shows his succession of her position.



In the windows, I've placed items that will catch the light.  Apollo loves the sun, so anything that reflects or amplifies it gives him comfort and happiness.


Finally, we arrive at the central focus - the corner with the lantern.


I use butterflies as a common theme for Apollo.  He loves bugs, especially moths and butterflies.  Butterflies also have a tendency to represent overcoming disabilities, which applies to Apollo's state.

West - Water - Artemis


After passing by the veiled door and my potted ponytail palm, which is currently inside for the winter, we arrive at west, the element of water and the altar to my next familiar, Artemis.


I received Artemis in 2010 when he was passed to me through a truck window by his abuser.  Covered in bruises, mats and fleas, and so malnourished I could feel the underside of his rib cage, I worked closely with Artie for months to teach him how to eat, to potty train him and to give him a small vocabulary.  Little did I know that vocabulary would be utilized by that astral voice.  After just two months in, Artie and I pacted for eternity.


Not only is Artie the best, most well-behaved and smartest dog I've ever owned (which says a lot; sorry, Gizmo), but he's incredibly in tune with me as a familiar - even more so than I ever anticipated.  As a water elemental, Artie likes to go with the flow, is very social and incredibly empathic.  He helps me through both mental and physical disabilities and shows me endless support. Also, because he's connected with water, he's linked to the veil to the Other, located in the west.  He has traveled with me across the veil and spoken endlessly to various spirits in my time with him.  The number of times I've woken up in that liminal space while he's talking with a spirit is more than I can count.  Add in his wavy white and cream hair, his adorable smile and a blue Asian ocean waves collar, and you have a water elemental if I've ever seen one.


Artie loves all things ocean-related, and so his entire area is decorated with this in mind.  We have netted balls with sand and shells as well as two starfish hanging over the lantern.


Artie also has an entire wall shelf reserved for him covered with shells, starfish, sand dollars and glass items containing water.


If it is dead and ocean-related, it speaks to Artie and goes on his altar.


At the top of this altar sits Artemis's figurine - a near-perfect replica of him I found as a holiday ornament.  I just removed the felt stocking they had in his mouth!


Here, you can see my very first altar.  I gave this to Artie's corner when we moved into this house as a gift to him.  Because Artie is incredibly social, he is the primary reason I have a coven.  He's so in love with his circlemates that I store crafted magical items in the "bookshelf" space of this altar.  Typically, it's covered in items but I recently cleaned it out to make way for 2018.


This is also where I keep my altar to the fae.  Fae are also creatures of the Other and thus linked to the west.  This is why I covered their faery door in pearls and aqua blue, surrounded it with moss and placed it on the altar in Artie's corner.  Never fear: Though fae can be tricksters, I have the appropriate precautions put in place.

North - Earth - Zeus


After passing by the French doors...


You'll find the northern most altar area dedicated to my earthy familiar, Zeus.


My experience finding Zeus was different than my other familiars in that I heard his astral voice days before he found me.  Artie was asking for a walk one day during a bit of a lightning storm.  I had said no several times but he demanded it had to be right now - it was important!  As we leashed him, I told my husband that, if I found the source of the astral voice, we were bringing him home, no questions asked.

We maybe got a couple yards from the doorway of our apartment when, sure enough, Zeus emerged from a storm drain.  He bypassed my husband, nuzzled Artie to thank him for bringing me out, then grabbed my ankle and flopped on my feet.

"You are mine. I am yours. Take me home."

Of course, I did my due diligence in asking neighbors if he belonged to anyone.  Everyone I talked to stated that he'd been a stray and dumpster diver his whole life.  Well that was most certainly over!


Zeus and I immediately pacted.  We didn't wait and discuss it or run any kind of trial period.  We knew we were meant to be.    His brown and stone coat and green eyes make him perfectly suited to earth, and all of his stripes along with the lightning storm and his emergence from the storm drain led to his name.

Zeus is my down-to-earth, stable, loving and social tubby tabby.  He's also part Maine Coon, so he's sizable, even without the tub.  Zeus came to me right before my life took a downward spiral: My husband was laid off, we lost our apartment, I didn't have much work coming my way and my previous familiar, Nyx, passed away.  As an earth element, he taught me that grounding and stabilization with a familiar is much easier than doing so on my own.  My ability to function some days hinges on his existence and our familiarship.


For the safety of all of our animals, we do not do indoor/outdoor cats.  All of our cats are indoor only.  This was something Zeus agreed to but I know he misses the outside.  He lived on his own for three years in it!  So his altars are full of items that remind him of his life prior to me.


Zeus also has a way with fire, despite not being a fire elemental, so I utilize candles often as well in his area.  It must be something about that lightning, right?


Altars to Zeus are of course covered in pine cones, dirt, salt, leaves and vines.  I also utilize ribbon and bone, ribbon for his playfulness and bone for his love of food.


More candles, more leaves and even a rose reside here.  Pieces of wood surround it and it's capped with a corn doll.


These acorn jars are filled with elements to the outside and the figurines are covered in vines and flowers, furthering that setting Zeus was once emerged in.



I also love utilizing dried flower, leave, twig and vine plaques.  They allow me to literally bring the outside in.


With all of this in mind, the hanging elements above his quarter make sense: Acorns and vines!


And, of course, we have his little statuette.  It took me an immensely long time to find a tabby figurine I liked.  Because Zeus doesn't have "socks" or a white tail tip, few tabby figures look like him.  Even this one isn't quite right but it's as close as I've come yet!


Finally, in his area right next to the fireplace, I have a beaded lantern.  The beads are clear, light green and dark green - perfect for his earthy element.

Putting it Together!


The ritual room in 2017 has become an ode to my familiars, a way to connect to my psychopomp teacher and, of course, a work space for my coven.



In previous years, it's struggled to come together.  Now, my ritual room makes perfect sense to my Craft.  I'm incredibly proud of it!





And so, of course, are my familiars!

May you leave 2017 wiser and enter 2018 blessed!  Have a fantastic New Year!

10 comments:

  1. I absolutely LOVE this post! Beautifully done and so interesting. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Gurl! I am insanely jealous of your ritual room. Maybe the next house I purchase will have extra space. As it stands, I am at capacity. Absolutely stunning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Willow! When we were house shopping, having a spare room to act as the ritual room was a must. We wouldn't even look at houses that didn't have it because it's so essential to our lifestyle at this point.

      Delete
  3. Your new ritual room looks absolutely stunning! It makes me wish I had enough room to be able to create something similar, but you have given me a few ideas for what I could do with my current space.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! We're fortunate enough to have found a house that had a room for sacred space, but there's definitely ways to work these concepts into your living area as well. Best of luck to you!

      Delete
  4. It's lovely to see this evolution of a ritual space. Thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you so much for showing us your ritual room in such detail! I loved seeing all the things you've collected and what they symbolise. I was looking forward to seeing Zeus' area most of all, as he looks just like my cat. He doesn't have any white markings, and is also a very large cat, too. Though all of them are adorable in their own ways.

    xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! Big tabbies seem to be a thing lately. I run across all kinds of gifs and videos that look just like my Zeus. I love it! Zeus is a giant mama's boy (he likes my husband but he's most definitely not in love with him the way he is me), so I'm a bit partial to him myself!

      Delete