Scél lém dúib
ro fáith sam
I have news for you:
the stag bells
summer is ended. (Old Irish poem)
The sky, iron gray, pulls out the gold, brown and scarlet from the leaves. The garden is mostly done, save for some herbs and the last leaves of the horseradish; hungry deer skipped the fence and feasted on the rest.
Samhain is one hinge and Beltane the other. And so, as with spring cleaning, there’s fall cleaning. I change my altar cloths, dust the statues and decide if any of the offerings should be returned to the earth.
Detritus of paths, inspirational perhaps, but no longer followed. The Hindu altar is moved downstairs to where I do yoga, the only remnant of practice I have from that path. The Buddhist altar moves to the downstairs hall. The Greek altar, swabbed but largely inactive, remains alongside my two Celtic altars — the one to all the Tuatha, and the one reserved especially for Brighid, although she’s represented on both.
Give me a flat surface and I build a shrine. It’s instinct to me. But it’s hard to know what to do with statuary and accouterments of paths I no longer largely follow, although I may offer impromptu honors and prayers. It seems wrong to rid myself of them, unless as a gift to a devotee. Sacred things don’t just lose their holy nature, in my thinking; their holiness is not dependent on human whim or the winds that shiftingly blow through human life.
And so, Hera and the Greek goddesses stay, crowned with peacock feathers. Kali dances alongside my yoga mat and the downstairs cat. Kwannon reminds me of compassion in the hall — all cleaner, with fresh altar cloths and re-arranged offerings. Not all the attention I give to Brighid and the Tuatha, it’s true. But what to do?