Shrine Building With Helvetica!

Or, So You Want to Build a Shrine

From time to time, I see questions go by about how to build a shrine to honor the gods, and I thought it would make for a nice light piece to give my take on shrines.

First off, I want to start by saying that you don’t have to have a shrine in order to worship.  I’m speaking from a Kemetic standpoint as usual, but this is probably going to apply in the majority of religions.  Not everyone can afford a shrine, and as in any spiritual practice, the physical objects are not nearly as important as the acts of worship and prayer.  So if you cannot afford to buy statues, or your living circumstances won’t allow for a shrine, that’s okay.  You can make your heart a shrine, and still spend time with the Gods.

But if you do want a physical shrine, and your circumstances allow for it, here’s what I would recommend based on my own practice.

Super Basic Shrine

You will need:

1) an icon of the god of your choice

Yeah, that’s it.  Find a good spot for them in your home, somewhere you can see them regularly.  I find the Netjeru like their privacy, so you may want a quiet corner, or in your bedroom.  You can present offerings of food and drink on regular dishes.  As for finding your icon, ebay is going to be your best bet for finding statues.  The Hachette figurines are decent, if you can find a seller who won’t charge an arm and a leg on shipping (seems to be mostly a US issue there, as they were originally released everywhere but here).  There are also a variety of historically based statues, in a wide variety of sizes.  The Summit Collection has some small black and gold statues of the more popular gods if you’re tight on space, and these are the ones that are the easiest to find.  You can also check your local metaphysical shop for icons as well.  For Netjeru statues, there are also two etsy shops I would recommend: Shadow of the Sphinx and ValueARTifacts.  The former makes lovely statues and is a member of our community (haven’t ordered from them, personally, but would like to some day).  The latter sells a wide variety of tiny porcelain figures, and usually has a good selection of Egyptian ones.  These are tiny, like one inch tall, so they’re great if you’re really tight on space.  I have ordered from her, and she is a fantastic seller–very quick, and good to work with.  On the DIY front, you can even use gaming miniatures (got two links there for you–one goes to minis for an Egypt themed game, the other is to Reaper, who does a little bit of everything).  My nicest Thoth statue is actually a gaming miniature.

It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to have a statue–any image will work.  You can pull up a public domain pic if you want, or you can get prints, or even commission artwork.  Within our own community here on tumblr, we have many talented artists; Noumenon offers prints here; @the-typhonian does fantastic custom work, and @zooophagous also does some lovely work.  (Feel free to add anyone I missed in the comments.)  If you don’t mind doing a little work, there’s the Egyptian Gods coloring book, too.

And of course, if you’re the artsy type, you can always make your own icons.

Basic Shrine

You will need:

1) an icon of the god of your choice

2) an offering dish/cup

Same as before, only now you have dedicated dishes for your offerings.  I have not had any complaints about using dishwasher safe dishes for this purpose, so go crazy!  You can often find single dishes well, anywhere that sells dishes.  You’d also be surprised at what you can find at Dollar Tree, so this doesn’t have to break the bank.  My dedicated offering plate is a colorful ceramic one I found at Walmart for a dollar, and my cup, well, I’ve got two cups–one is a fancy teacup from Teavana, and the other is one I actually made myself in art school.

Standard Shrine

You will need:

1) an icon of the god of your choice

2) an offering dish/cup

3) a candle (you can opt for an LED candle if need be, and Gods permitting)

4) an incense burner/holder and incense

Make sure you practice good fire safety habits, and don’t leave burning things unattended near flammables.

Fancy Shrine

You will need:

1) an icon of the god of your choice

2) an offering dish/cup

3) a candle (you can opt for an LED candle if need be, and Gods permitting)

4) an incense burner/holder and incense

5) an altar cloth

6) Decorative things, e.g. flowers, crystals, votive offerings

Once you’ve got your standard shrine, you’re probably going to want to start sprucing things up a little.  I would recommend a linen or cotton cloth to put under everything if you can find it; avoid animal based fabrics like wool for purity reasons.

Super Fancy Shrine

1) an icon of the god of your choice

2) an offering dish/cup

3) a candle (you can opt for an LED candle if need be, and Gods permitting)

4) an incense burner/holder and incense

5) an altar cloth

6) Decorative things, e.g. flowers, crystals, votive offerings

7) a dedicated shelf, cabinet, or other piece of furniture used exclusively to house the shrine

8) a cover/curtain/or closing mechanism that will allow the gods total privacy

This is about as far as most of us will go, seeing as it can be cost prohibitive to set aside an entire room or outbuilding for your life size statue of Anpu. Even this option can still be done on a small scale if you’re tight on space (I keep mentioning space constraints because it’s an issue for me).

General Shrine Notes

You can locate your shrine almost anywhere you like, although I would avoid the bathroom or anywhere dirty.  You want to be respectful–after all, this is a space you’re inviting the gods to visit in.  I have a shrine on a windowsill, even!  Just try to keep it clean.  Also, consider pets if you have them.  You don’t want Fluffy trying to eat your statues or votive offerings.  If you decide to keep a plant in your shrine, make sure it’s nontoxic to your pets or completely out of reach (for example, the Nephthytis is toxic to cats).

It’s also worth noting that you can create a travel shrine with a box and small icons, as well.  This can be especially useful for those who can’t openly display a shrine all the time.  On that note, many shrine items are very common, and you can always set them on a shelf and claim you like the aesthetic (Gods permitting, of course).

Happy shrine building!

 

(originally published Apr 29, 2017 on my tumblr)

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