What are Shrines and Why Do We Build and Tend to Them?

What are Shrines and Why Do We Build and Tend to Them?

A shrine is a place or object that represents, holds and makes a space for a certain entity, abstract concept, idea or belief. At the shrine, offerings are made or prayers are said to and for what is held there. The practice of building shrines has many functions, some of which are psychological in that they allow us to externalize certain ineffable concepts, like the soul, or a relationship to a powerful but unseen being. Externalizing means giving form to something that we only feel, perceive and understand as untouchable, within or numinous. The practice of externalizing helps us to actively work with them, consider, and care for them in a way that is different from when they remain unseen or are internalized only. With the shrine, we are able to take that relationship, being or concept and place it in a concrete form outside of ourselves, look at it and interact with it in a real time, three-dimensional way.