The Pagan Blog Project: L is for Lantern

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really have a good feel for deities.  The ones I’ve connected with the most are those in heathen traditions.  Today I want to talk about imagery used for deities in my experience.

I’ve used two main image sources for altars: actual physical statues/picture representations and symbolic imagery.  Statues and pictures are nice if you find something (or better yet are able to create something) that speaks to you as authentic in your mind.  I’ve seen people commission artists for portraits to adorn their altars and shrines which can often be much more personalized than ordering one of maybe four designs of a deity’s statue online.  Depending on the deity, you may have more options or much, much fewer.

For me, I find hard images to be helpful if I don’t have a great grasp on the deity.  The face is helpful.  There is of course the drawback though that being fed an image created by someone else, you are going to basically imprint with that specific image in mind.  Still, if the image works for you, use it.  And remember, it doesn’t always have to specifically be a statue or portrait of that deity.  This may go a little into the realm of symbolic imagery, but if you have an image of a character that makes you think of that deity or an unrelated design that just strikes you as perfect, those are perfectly acceptable as well.

I usually enjoy symbolic imagery better for a few reasons.  First of all, I don’t feel as if I’m drawing impressions off of someone else’s idea.  But possibly more important for those who have to keep their pagan life sort of secret, you can be a lot sneakier with symbolic imagery.  And by sneaky I mean you could possibly create a shrine in the middle of your living room without guests or family ever batting an eye at it in suspicion.

The title of this post is “Lantern” because that is one of my main symbolic images.  The first deity I was very drawn to and to this day continue to go back to when I’m lost is Heimdall.  After awhile, I wanted some kind of image of him, but was not satisfied at all with the sculptures available (which are sadly few and far between).  I thought about a Gjallarhorn representation, or something Bifrost-like.  While the horn didn’t really work out, I did end up making a multi-colored tile incense burner for his shrine.  But it was more for him and not for me to use as a way to reach him.

I ended up choosing a lantern because to me a lantern represents vigilance as well as self-knowledge and path-finding.  All three of these things are aspects I see in Heimdall or that he has helped me with.  I like this even more because the lantern I found (pictured above) has a tealight holder in it, so lighting a tealight is sort of like training my mind to get into a different mode.

Each person should really use whatever speaks the best to them.  While I’ve noticed that my symbolic images tend to resonate with me more than the statues or portraits, I know many people really enjoy the more traditional route and get a lot out of it.  But I am also glad that I found something that worked for me.  The lantern has provided a lot of comfort at very dark times.



Storm Altar

April and May are probably the most dangerous months where I live in Tornado Alley.  Between damaging winds and hail and a near constant threat of tornadoes, Spring is the season I dread the most, despite how much we need the rain from these storms to break the drought we’ve been in for a very long time.

Last year I had a Storm Candle that I would light whenever a storm was heading our way.  We suffered minimal property damage last year, so I thought this year I would expand that idea to a full Storm Altar.

The various things pictured above are to encourage rainfall while maintaining protection from wind and hail.

From left to right:

  1. The Lantern – To me a lantern has always symbolized vigilance.  It represents Heimdall on my altars and shrines.
  2. The White Candle – This is my Storm Candle from last year.  The rune on it is the protective version of Hagalaz.
  3. The Rain Bottle – Filled with the rain from the first spring rainfall from last year, this bottle is here to encourage helpful rainfall and rejuvenation of the land.  The rune Laguz is written on the front.  However, on the back is the rune Algiz.  When we are at high threat of a tornado, I use this bottle to try to encourage the storm to unwind.
  4. The Sun – Hidden almost as often as it is shining during Spring, I keep this here as a reminder to myself that the storm and stress is necessary.  Summer will come eventually.
  5. Thor – Pretty sure he’s self-explanatory.  The candle and stone next to him are there for more storm imagery.
  6. The Green Candles – There is a line of four of these against the west side of the altar.  Most of our storms approach from the west.  The idea here is to break up wind in such a way that it can’t organize into a tornado.  The rune Eihwaz is written on each of these.
  7. The Two Feathers & Black Stone – The feathers are blue to emphasize the wind element.  The black stone has Algiz written on it.  When the wind picks up to where I don’t feel comfortable, the black stone goes on the feathers.
  8. The Nine Tealights – I use these any time I am asking for the assistance of Northern European deities because nine is a sacred number.  Burning nine candles down is also how I activate the altar.
  9. What’s with the bull in the background? – Well aside from the bull often being tied to fertility as is rain, it also is there because of personal associations I have with the rune Uruz and Thor.

No, I don’t have any illusion that I am capable of controlling the weather.  But if I can have any influence on keeping my family and house safe aside from the mundane things we do anyway, I’m going to do what I can.

I hope all of you who are in a similar situation get through Spring in one piece.