Community Altar for February 2018

February 25, 2018 | Filed Under Community Altar | No Comments

This month’s Community Altar is my Sigyn altar, rather than the standalone altar I usually create. I had some ideas about what to do this month, but wasn’t pleased with any of them. The resulting disarray on the Community Altar was indicative not only of the state of external situation of the community and world, but also an accurate reflection of my own inner chaos, and no one who isn’t me needs to deal with that. So, as I often do in difficult times, I turned to Sigyn, who has been a strong presence for me this month as I have dealt with grief and depression.

Sigyn is mentioned only a few times in the myths, and aside from her name and her marriage to Loki, we know little about her. She and Loki had two sons, Narvi and Vali, who were cruelly treated by Odin in revenge for Baldr’s death. Odin turns Vali into a wolf, who kills Narvi, as Sigyn and Loki are forced to watch. Loki is then bound in the cave, held to the rocks with the intestines of his dead son. Skadi nails a snake to the roof of the cave, which drips venom on Loki’s head. Sigyn stands guard over Loki, holding a wooden bowl to catch the poison, trying to shield him. She leaves only to empty the bowl when it fills, and returns quickly, to minimize the time he is exposed to the poison. Eventually, Loki breaks free of his bonds and escapes.

The myths do not say what became of Sigyn. UPG varies widely. Sometimes I have the sense that she is with Laufey on her leafy isle, recovering from her trials and helping others to heal from their own losses. Both are strong women, powerful women, and the idea of them working together as healers and counselors feels right to me.

Sigyn Altar

Sigyn Altar

The centerpiece of the altar is a beat up, scratched, scarred wooden bowl with a leaf pattern carved into the edge. It’s filled with a few red glass stones representing the poison, and many clear glass stones representing the water she uses to rinse the bowl. This reminds me that, whatever I am suffering, life holds more love than pain, even if it does not feel that way at this particular moment.

The four candles represent Sigyn, Loki, Narvi, and Vali. The angel figure on the right holds a dove, protecting it. The Guardian Angel candle on the left is identical to a small painting which hung over my bed when I was a child, with the angel guiding two lost children to the safety of home. There’s a sterling silver rose filled with rose petal potpourri for sweetness, four sprigs of lavender from my garden for peace and calm, and four mourning dove feathers left in my back yard by the birds who visit our feeders.

Many small and varied stones are scattered across the altar, including a rose quartz heart for love and healing. The glass bottle contains water (and is sealed with a cork, because Dust Happens). The scrying piece in the center is actually a piece of Mdina Glass I acquired in Malta, and with the four candles casting light into it, is wonderful to view with. I made the clay stand which holds it.

The butterfly wind chime serves as a focus for me; I ring the bells at the beginning of my work with her. Butterflies (for me) symbolize the soul, and the new life that awaits the caterpillar going through its dark time of being unmade and remade.

The flowers are refreshed every week; the type and color depend entirely on what’s available at the flower market.

The altar cloth is a piece I embroidered.

As the Mourning Mother, Sigyn understands your pain when you grieve. She understands your rage at the unfairness of life, and she understands your desire to strike back, and your impotent fury that there is no real way to do so. Sigyn reminds you to feel your pain, to weep your tears, to let your heart break fully so that you can begin to heal. Allow yourself to feel the grief, to mourn the loss, to weep and wail and keen. Suppressed grief is dangerous, eating at the heart and soul, darkening your spirit for the remainder of your years. Mourn, bless, and release; the release includes not only releasing the pain once you have acknowledged it, but also releasing yourself from the cave to rejoin life after the period of mourning, and to live fully each day.

As the Lady of Victory, Sigyn reminds you to persevere, to persist, to keep going. No matter how dark the cave, no matter how many times the bowl fills and must be emptied, no matter how many times you want to cry or scream or collapse in frustration, Sigyn reminds you that you can do this. Whatever it is, you can make it through the darkness, and emerge from the cave victorious, ready to once again be part of your family and community, to live and thrive and create a full, rich life.

May Sigyn bring you comfort in your pain, and help you move through your grief so that you can return to the world at peace with your loss, stronger in heart and soul, and ready to reconnect with your life and your purpose.

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