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.
One does not need to be an initiated diviner to create and tend a family ancestor shrine. In fact, everyone can benefit by carrying out this practice. And if you have children, young or old, this is a great gift to them as well. It can be as simple or elaborate as you choose.
In this blog post I will speak a bit of why I think this is true and then give some ideas and suggestions for how to easily create and maintain such a shrine or altar.
The Importance of Honoring Our Ancestors
An ancestor shrine or altar is a place to honor and remember those who came before us and gave us life. it is because of them that we are here and, in part, they have made us who we are.