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“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.” ~
There are times when we feel there’s nothing profound we can do to change a horrible situation.
I have felt so in the weeks since war broke out in Ukraine. At the beginning, I felt paralyzed, over-consuming the news, feeling desperately sad and overwhelmed.
Amidst the calls for love and light and to not fall into the “negative” vibe of war, I became more and more frustrated. I am a pacifist by nature and understand the meaning and power behind infusing our lives with those positives. However, I wonder, from our position of privilege, do we trust in that process beyond the practical?
My quest now is to combine one esoteric action with one physical action. For instance, while holding the vision of a quick and peaceful resolution to the conflict, I can donate to the cause through a humanitarian organization I trust.
When I find myself de-regulated and stressed, I try to remember that returning to the simplest tasks can be the ultimate way to lead my best life, be the best human I can manage in the moment, and subsequently build a better world through these efforts.
I decided to create a peace altar to coincide with Spring Equinox:
A triumvirate of energies are converging; the equinox (Spring for Northern, Autumnal in the Southern Hemisphere), a full moon, and the launch of Aries, which opens a new zodiacal year.
The spiritual significance of equinox is balance. The sun hovers over the equator. Night and day are almost equal. The journey of the sun, our own inner sun—felt at our solar plexus chakra and that of the Universe share one path. As within, so without. What happens in the Universe, in our world, also happens within us. What happens within us reflects in the Universe. We create the balance we seek, as our soul moves alongside that giant ball of fire in the sky.
Reaching into my witch’s practices, I find myself transitioning into a tranquil frame of mind and marrying that essence with something my hands can do. What’s important, is staying true to who I am and doing something familiar that resonates with my way of living in a turbulent world.
This simple practice calls upon my connection to the earth, the four directions, and the elements. It connects me with the universal heart. I may be naïve, but I believe all our hearts beat to the same frequency.
Your altar represents your attunement to the intention in your heart.
Begin with Intention
Building the altar begins with setting an intention for a desired outcome. Sit with this for a while. You may want to write the intention down or keep it tucked inside. I set an intention for the safety of all elderly and those born during war. You can add new intentions to the altar as they come up for you.
Clear Your Space
If you already have an altar going, you can dismantle it and start this new one or leave it and build another. Either way, you want to begin with a clean space. I took everything down, wiped the shelf, laid down a new cloth, and cleansed the area with smoke. You can burn an herb bundle or use incense. Sandalwood is lovely for this purpose. I personally use Nag Champa incense because it is natural, toxin free, and bears that lovely sandalwood scent.
Invite the Four Directions and Five Elements
Beginning with East, I invite the four directions to anchor my altar, along with the elements of water, earth, air, and fire. It can be as simple as saying, “Welcome water, earth, air, and fire, welcome east, north, west, and south.” Now I am connected to the natural world which sustains me.
The fifth element, spirit, can be represented by a deity of your choice. Choose one that arises from your cultural background if possible, or if from another culture, be sure to recognize their origin. Eirene is a Greek goddess of peace, but I am not as familiar with her so chose Selene, also known as Luna. Earth Mother is my other constant ally. A goddess statue if you have one can represent these.
Crystals, Candles, Essential Oils, Feathers, or A Special Item
>> A white candle is best for a peace altar, but don’t worry if you don’t have one; use anything you have.
>> An amplifying crystal such as clear quartz is a good choice, as are rose quartz, selenite, or amethyst. You can hold the crystal in your hand and ask its willingness to be included. My selenite carved into a heart shape was especially keen. You can lay a grid of crystals surrounding the other elements or place one at the center of the altar.
>> Essential oils can calm and soothe: I happen to have a peace essential oil blend which I added to my wrists and heart space while building the altar—but lavender is one most folks have on hand that exudes a very peaceful presence.
>> A white feather summons peaceful resolution to conflict. If you don’t happen to have one floating around, you can draw one on a piece of paper. Otherwise, another feather will do.
>> Dried flowers, a river rock, an item special to you that opens your heart, an oracle card, a vase of flowers—add what feels right.
>> A small bowl of water to nourish those thirsty for peace is another idea.
I’ve mentioned quite a few things here, but know that a candle lit and a set intention is a powerful altar. The point is to connect with the process, enjoy the creativity, hold peace in your heart, and share the energy with the world.
Call in your Ancestors
Do you have an ancestor that you would like to include in your peace mission? I have a grandmother who often attends my altars. An elder or ancestor, even the memory of a dear transitioned pet can add to your work here.
Once the altar is set and candles lit, it can be a restful place to meditate, pray, or simply be. This grounding and centering space takes care of us on a subtle, healing level. It can be the safe space you wish for others.
A Meditation or Prayer for Loving-Kindness
An especially beautiful meditation one can practice by their altar is one by Jack Kornfield, for loving-kindness. Sometimes I work with my mala beads as I vocalize this.
We begin with ourselves after focusing on our breath and posture and finding our presence:
May I be filled with loving-kindness.
May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May I be well in body and mind.
May I be at ease and happy.
Once we are full, we extend it to another:
May you be filled with loving-kindness.
May you be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May you be well in body and mind.
May you be at ease and happy.
Then we extend it to the world:
May all be filled with lovingkindness.
May all be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May all be well in body and Mind.
May all be at ease and happy.
When things are falling apart or even coming together, ritual is a beautiful way to reconnect with that feeling of home deep in our hearts (center), with community, and with existential meaning.
I hope this altar practice and meditation is of benefit. I pray for mine, your, and everyone’s well-being. I pray for an end to war. And so it is.