Enshrined, such a static verb. When something is enshrined it’s being put away, in a sacred space, to be there forever. Tucked away, but not forgotten. When something is enshrined it can change the space that it’s in. It’s like the shrine becomes a fountain of sacredness that radiates out into the room, or the temple, or the universe.
Maybe that’s the reason it’s so nice sometimes to just sit surrounded by the sacred, by shrines. It doesn’t take much. Most hospital chapels are pretty barren, but they provide a space of peace and reflection. Great cathedrals are filled with shrines and side altars and sacred objects. There are spots in many of them where it seems like all the shrines are vie-ing for attention. Where it’s a “noisy” rather than “peaceful” sacred, but in a “fill you up” kind of way. Nature makes shrines, special places tucked away where the sacred seems to pool. Shinto shrines acknowledge this and foster it.
My women’s group got together this week. For our monthly ritual we made shrines. We each chose a word and created a shrine around it. We ended up in a circle of shrines to beautiful things we would like in our lives. When we finished construction we walked together around the circle of shrines and then sat in the center and just soaked up the sacred. It was really nice. Sitting among all those shrines, fountains of sacredness gushing out attributes of tranquility, and joy, and wisdom, present/patience, receptivity and prosperity.
The active form of enshrined (as per LisaSpiral): being in a space surrounded by shrines. Stepping into the sacred and allowing yourself to be present with it. Opening one’s awareness to the sacred and soaking it in.
So I thought I’d share. Please spend some time today surrounded by blessing given in love.
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?