Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Winter Alter

I call this my alter. It's not a religious thing. It's a ME thing. It is just inside our front door and changes with the seasons. I started doing this many years ago while reading the book Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. In this book, which is a daily reading for a year, Sarah writes about her "meditation table" where she displays things she loves and is inspired by, such as the Victorian lithograph of an angel representing her guardian angel and photos or candles.

Also, from another of my favorite authors, Julia Cameron, this practice is encouraged, even if it's only a window seal. She says, "In order to stay easily and happily creative, we need to stay spiritually centered. This is easier to do if we allow ourselves centering rituals. It is important that we devise these ourselves from elements that feel holy and happy to us."

On my alter the little tree stays lit all year. I had a lamp there for a while until I found the tree at a sweet little shop down the road. (Homethrown will have to visit! She's open Wed-Sat every week). The ornaments of course will change and sometimes I only leave the lights. The crystal tree was a gift from a special kid probably purchased from the dollar store and the crystal bowl, a wedding gift. The potpourri in the bowl smells like cinnamon favorite breakfast in winter. The deer are not only a nice touch but a reminder that even though they are pesty...and ate our entire garden last year...that they represent solidarity and that I should keep my relationships strong, honest and on good terms. And, lastly the painting, by one of my favorite western artists, Dyrk Godby...and it is an original...small, but original. The detail is incredible and inspires me to go the extra mile in my work as well. I'm not there yet, but working on it!

To balance the tree with the painting it needs a little lift and rather than get a taller tree I opted for giving it a boost with a compote bowl that was passed down by my grandmother. I love the juxtaposition of the rough burlap and glass. This is repeated again with the rustic deer (again from HTP) and glass tree and crystal bowl.

The book is just barely holding itself together and when it's not on display it is carefully wrapped in tissue and stored away in the cabinet beneath the table. I love it because the illustrations remind me of books my grandmother used to read to us when were would stay with her. She was my biggest inspiration for being creative.

Ads on the inside covers...

We use Pear soap now, 121 years later...and it was already 100 then?? Good stuff!

Inscription inside. Very sweet. It was the selling point for me. Someone needed to appreciate the sentiment even if it wasn't family. I give books often as gifts and always write something to the recipient.

I love my winter alter because I love the sparkle on the long nights. I can see it as I walk through the living room or when I sit on the sofa reading or watching TV. Early in the morning I will plug in the lights and it will be the only light as the sun comes up and while I am having coffee and my prayer time.

It's not too late this year to read Simple Abundance. I picked up so many useful things 10 + years ago and now as I re-read I'm finding that it stuck pretty well and life is good because of what I learned and began to practice then.

Do you have a special table, window seal, or even a shelf on a bookcase where you could make your own alter?

*One more thing...don't forget about our give away... leave a comment to be eligible for the drawing of the book Junk Chic. Follow the link and leave a comment!


  1. Really love this idea and your arrangement.

  2. I love personal alters. My studies in spiritual formation have lead me to love them. Would you like to perhaps help share this with others someday? Perhaps at the church or elsewhere...via Shamrockpilgrims?

  3. Thanks both of you for reading and your comments.

    Jonathan...we'll talk.

  4. What a great idea Angie! And thanks so much for the plugs! I love how you have everything displayed, too! :)
    Have a great weekend!

  5. I love your alter...I am in the process of changing out mine...finally, am putting all the holiday viginettets (sp?) away.
    Angie, it's so funny you found my blog, as I found your original site a long time ago, while "googling" floorcloths..just to see what was out there...your's were my favorite.
    I just yesterday put one up as a wallhanging in my foyer...
    Love your posts!


So glad you stopped by. I love reading your comments!