For years, I forged delicate judgment on my associates’ altars. I sneered at what I thought of to be capitalistic passivity: I purchased a crystal, put it on a shelf, and there you may have it. I had at all times considered altars as static mantles of recent age nonsense, gathering mud just like the porcelain sh*t my Polish grandmother beloved to encase in glass. Naturally, as with all assumptions I’ve made relating to religious practices that predate the pyramids, I used to be in for a studying curve. However in my apply as an astrologer, I discovered myself experimenting with altars and devotionals as a part of my ritual apply — they usually modified my life.
WHAT ARE ALTARS & DEVOTIONALS?
To start: An altar is a consecrated ritual house, which, should you’ve ever lived in New York Metropolis, could be the measurement of a takeout container. In a single’s residence, an altar features as the point of interest of magic, intention, and artistic energy. That is the place a magician retains their instruments: wands, playing cards, stones, chalices, and different helpful ephemera.
A devotional, in the meantime, is a kind of ritual pop-up, honoring a particular god or ancestor, calling on assist, marking time. These are assembled with a transparent intention, designed for a window of time, made to make sh*t occur. It’s these that captivated my creativeness and altered my relationship with the planets and gods.
It started in late 2022, throughout that interminable Mars retrograde in Gemini, a turgid artistic quicksand that devoured all my remaining inspiration. Artistically, I felt like I had nothing to contribute. I didn’t know what sort of author I used to be anymore (I nonetheless don’t). So I went again to my sixth grade love, the one I had earlier than I had any artistic identification, when it was simply me and teenage magazines on my bed room flooring: collaging.
At that time, I used to be writing planetary explainers for my NYLON column: breakdowns of the solar, Luna, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. I used to be finding out the sensible integrations of the planets into on a regular basis life — for instance, every of the seven conventional planets has its personal day and even hour. I used to be studying the planetary invocations from The Orphic Hymns, an arcane set of Dionysian psalms to the gods and planets.
I began to make collages to every of the planets, utilizing previous comedian books and any dusty journal I might seize: from the re-sale stands and Russian bookstores in my neighborhood. The Venus unfold options ’70s-era Surprise Lady, the X-Males’s Emma Frost, and male fashions with no buccal fats; Mercury’s collage recruits the recent twinks of Gayletter, together with the Flash, and elders from Legends of Drag, to have a good time the attractive, fleet-footed trickster. On the again of every collage, I’d write the planet’s Orphic Hymn (I need to insist on the Athenassakos translation), and on each day of the week, I’d pull out the corresponding collage, learn the blessing, and switch every little thing over to the god of the second. Monday, Moon’s Day, could be considered one of contemplation, darkness and reflection; or, as they are saying on Jersey Shore, GTL. Wednesday, miercoles, Mercury’s day, could be once I’d lastly reply emails, pay payments, and come up with my schedule.
By this level, I used to be enduring the once-in-a-lifetime carnage of a Uranus-sun transit, going months with no residence, crashing on associates’ couches, not sure the place I’d be the following week, in a void. Turning each day over to a special planet gave me some sense of order, and which means, as my life melted down.
MY DEVOTIONAL PRACTICE
By the summer time, I’d discovered extra secure lodgings and was able to take my apply to the following degree. I used to be studying Gordon White’s The Chaos Protocols and listening to Caroline W. Casey’s Visionary Activist Astrology. By way of White, I got here to know: The planets are ambivalent to us. The gods aren’t right here to carry our fingers. If you happen to’re going to wish to them, you need to make it attention-grabbing for them. Casey, in the meantime, emphasised artistic dialogue with the planets. Possibly they’re not answering our calls as a result of they will’t communicate our language. Why not give them a present, with meals, artwork, dance, music. Cease screaming into the void. Get artistic.
I began with the brand new and full moons, two axes of formality apply since time immemorial, which, after all, I’d written off as Williamsburg witch-lite gibberish. However with a brand new and full moon taking place as soon as a month, respectively, round two weeks aside, I might make a deal with of it, with out feeling like I used to be taking up extra each day “homework” in my magical apply. The brand new moon begins in darkness and opens the way in which for brand new beginnings. The complete moon acts as a end result level, when all that’s been cultivated during the last month or yr comes to reap. It at all times goes down within the reverse signal we’re at present in; if it’s Sagittarius, the brand new moon goes down in Gemini.
So I went in: I’d configure the moon’s altar to its signal and ruler. For the Taurus new moon, I arrange my collage of Venus (the signal’s ruler); purchased recent flowers, pastries, and wine; cleaned the condominium; and lit candles. I discovered the act of sacramental ornament, of creating one thing stunning for a better energy, to be pleasing. The wellness-based self-indulgence I’d resented was irrelevant right here. I used to be making my residence right into a holy chamber, pouring a glass of wine (or beer, in Jupiter’s case) for the higher-ups, and welcoming them to share with me.
I’d learn any related Orphic Hymns, reward the deity concerned, and infrequently make requests or supplications. Quickly, I’d transcend the planets, collaging and invoking goddesses like Tyche (goddess of fortune), Hekate (excessive titaness of the crossroads and ruler of all new moons), and Persephone (supreme femme of the underworld; she is happy with recent pomegranate seeds).
The apply instantly shifted my consciousness. Till the candles burned right down to the wick, I used to be in a liminal house, past time. No matter I used to be supposedly in want of — prosperity, well being, love, even an finish to struggle — already existed right here; I’d purchased the flowers and invested in it, created one thing that might reverberate again and ahead in time. I’d entered the god house during which all that might be already is, during which all issues are solved, during which every little thing is full. I’d put the time and cash in, Windexed the folding desk I take advantage of as my altar, and acquired a tasteful (however moderately priced!) malbec to allow them to know I used to be sport to play.
Particular person motion started to really feel irrelevant, as did minute worrying. I might focus my intention into artistic dialogue, into one thing tangible and visual, and depart it there. It wasn’t meditation, a lot as cultivated peace. When the candles had burnt out and I used to be prepared to go away, I’d dismantle it and and know that I’d purchased in, that I’d made myself a participant, that I didn’t want to be a martyr praying in useless to merciless planets — however a co-creator looking for to serve the desire of the gods, from my place on this aircraft of consciousness.
On Fridays, the eve of the Jewish Sabbath, I’d mild Shabbat candles and recite the Hebrew blessings, pouring wine for my ancestors, together with the gods. This blew sh*t open, creating psychedelic dinner scenes that crossed Mulan with Six Ft Underneath, rooting me within the current second as a residing emissary of a protracted and remarkably opinionated lineage. If I put out a plate and listened, I’d be in for infinite takes: Why’d I skimp on a budget wine? Might I not afford one thing nicer for them? Why hadn’t I invited anybody from my mom’s facet? Was there extra challah?
Each altar has marked time. Once I’m broke, I believe again to my resplendent choices to Venus and may entry the indulgent prosperity concerned. It looks like exhibiting up, like withholding a typical, like holding your self trustworthy within the eyes of the planets that rule our lives. It’s a method to deal, to return to that immortal house outdoors of time, to hook up with one’s immortality.
HOW TO CREATE ALTARS & DEVOTIONALS
I really feel that I’m nonetheless in the beginning of my devotional apply, however listed here are the fundamentals. Contemplate the intention of your altar: Are you welcoming in a presence, asking for assist, consecrating one thing, or all the above? Which archetype are looking for out? Maybe you’re seeking to blast open the gates of abundance. You could be served by invoking Jupiter. You possibly can construct your altar on a Thursday (Thor’s day, which belongs to Jupiter), or when the moon transits via Sagittarius or Pisces — Jupiter’s indicators. Maybe you’d like to herald Dionysus, Saturn, and Juno — Jupiter’s inheritor, father, and spouse, respectively; or any of his parallel incarnations from different faiths, like Ganesha or Odin. How would you wish to feed or encourage Jupiter? You’ll be able to search for conventional ritual choices, but in addition get into it via your personal artistic language. As soon as the placements are set, take into account what you’d prefer to learn, sing, or chant to have a good time the god’s booming presence.
As every of the seven “conventional” planets of astrology has its personal day, take into consideration the way you’d prefer to make them weekly presences in your life. Maybe you give money to the homeless on Mercury’s day, as he guidelines foreign money — and infrequently hides within the guise of somebody in want. Maybe Saturday, Saturn’s day, is your time to make amends for funds and clear your own home. Take into consideration how music, altars, and inventive practices might be configured with this setup.
For clear up, I at all times follow Gordon White’s rule, from The Chaos Protocols, which has all the knowledge you may want on elevating your ritual apply: arrange, depart the providing out for a respectful period of time, then clear up. Dispose of what’s spoiling, and take the remaining to the crossroads. “A lot as on the African plains or within the open ocean, there’s something of a meals chain in the case of spirit choices,” White writes. “The large ones eat first. Then the others do. You do not need to be feeding or attracting the others to your own home.”
The probabilities for what you do together with your altar apply is infinite: love spells, therapeutic, safety, restoration, reduction, prosperity, and past. However till you may make your relationships with the planets attention-grabbing — to you and them — you received’t get a lot traction. Dare your self to throw a banquet that would cease the planets in your orbit. Are you able to entertain?