The theme of Sacred Harvest Festival this year was shrines. That’s where I was camping at the beginning of the month and where I also presented two workshops (neither of them about shrines.)
I really enjoy visiting shrines. I’m fond of the side chapels in churches. I like walking through cemeteries. I nod at the statues in Asian restaurants. I’m happy to stop and rest on memorial benches and enjoy the view. I readily light a candle, or a stick of incense or drop a bit of libation when invited to participate in the honoring of a shrine.
Visiting a shrine is like meeting the relatives. It’s a level of intimacy that, although usually not too risky, isn’t something where participating makes everyone who visits comfortable. A shrine, like the relatives, must be approached with a willingness to simply accept them as they are. Shrines are a gift to and from those who tend them.
I notice shrines when I visit peoples homes, even when they are tucked away and unremarked upon. Some shrines are a very conscious part of a spiritual practice. Some are entirely unconscious as though shrines are hardwired into our genetics. Photos collected with the dead relatives in one cluster and the living in another are effective ancestor shrines. Collections of shells from a visit to the ocean or acorns, or stones often honor the memory of a place. People have shrines to music, and art, and literature which they honor but do not necessarily acknowledge in a conscious way.
In my book, Manifest Divinity, I identify the Divine very broadly. I suggest that anything that produces that feeling of awe is inherently a manifestation of the Divine. Shrines, for me, are a way for people to connect with the Divine in their day to day lives. By visiting them I get a chance to touch the Divine the way others experience it and expand my own experience and understanding.
Here are a few more shrines:
What shrines do you keep in your home or visit regularly?