Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tangible Witchcraft: Compassion Altar

Compassion is a quality which I wish to cultivate more of. It's not that I am not compassionate- I am. It's just that my compassion tends to manifest in ways that many do not recognize or notice. I am not a huge hugger, I tend to offer solutions more often than some want when they are looking for a shoulder to cry on.

Even before studying the Witchcraft tradition that I have been initiated into, I was following precepts of many warrior traditions. I am one of those people whose compassion is not expressed as affection. I am often seen as cold, blunt, and judgmental. (I see myself as reserved, blunt, and discerning, LOL.)

 I admire those who can listen without offering judgement or advice. I admire those people who are rays of sunshine that recharge your batteries just by interacting with them. I have never been one of those people, but I aspire. It's one of the reasons that I love my shiny Radical Faerie kin. I may never get there, but I will keep trying.

One of the ways that I remind myself of this practice and goal is a compassion altar. It is small, and now in my dining room. It is a small wire shelf and it holds:

Tibetan Prayer Flags: "Traditionally, prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all."
A small shrine with a stone bodhisattva. A boddhisatva is someone who takes on enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, not just stopping the wheel of reincarnation for themselves.

A statue of St. Francis: a compassionate protector of animals.

A card of the Virgen de Guadaloupe/Tonantzin: "In the poem the Lady not only appears as an ordinary dark-skinned indigenous woman and speaks to Juan Diego in his Nahuatl mother tongue but she treats him with affection and respect, as an equal. (She speaks to him standing up; if she had been a noble, she would have received him sitting down.) She addresses him in familiar language, using many diminutives, like a mother. The indigenous Nahuatl people had seen their world destroyed, their great capital city in ruins, their culture and religion smashed. An estimated population of 25 million when the Spaniards arrived declined by the end of the century to 1 million from conquest, disease and suicide. The psychological trauma must have been devastating. But the Lady tells Juan Diego she is the Mother both of the Christian god (Dios) and the supreme Nahuatl god and she repeats some of that god’s highest titles (Life-Giver, Creator of Humanity, Lord of the Near and Together, Lord of Heaven and Earth). When Juan Diego says he is of too humble status to speak to the bishop, she insists he is her chosen messenger and he ends up carrying the good news to the bishop (‘evangelising’ him). The Lady represents the female aspect of the divinity (the Nahuatl supreme divinity Ometeotl being both male and female – the Divine Pair), the nurturing Earth Mother. She tells Juan Diego: ‘I am your kind mother and the mother of all the nations that live on this Earth who would love me.’ She accords the poor equal, or even greater, dignity than the rich and equally assumes both Christian and Nahuatl names of the great ‘Life-Giver’."

A red charm given to me by a Faery initiate (that I have never met. She sent me this charm when she heard of my pregnancy troubles).

Praying hands that open to Siddhartha Gautama Buddha

Two prayer cards invoking White Tara

A lotus candle holder

The Laughing Buddha

This is less a shrine about devotional practices to a specific set of dieties than it is a spell- a spell on myself. It serves as a daily reminder of whom I aspire to be.


  1. I have felt your compassion. Deep well.

  2. Wow...I never thought I'd find someone who is so much like me.....You're description of "who you are" is what is said about me by those around me....I'm SO thankful to know I'm not alone!!!!!'s not that I don't care, I do, but I "act" & I encourage "action" it's how I deal with things too:) Thank you for posting this! Blessings, beth

  3. @Sarah: Thank you!

    @sagesmoon: One of the last Grandmasters of my tradition has a famous quote that is worth pondering (this is a paraphrase): "You should never coddle someone's weakness, but you should also respect their frailties."

  4. This is just a beautiful post. Every word. The altar is also very beautiful.

  5. Wow Lilli must I say how much I friggin' great this site/blogspot you have created is. Just read a few things on here so far...THank you for sharing your wisdom and being so honest. very inspiring! the boopster site is awesome as well- go Rowan.. you have awesome parents!:)
    Amy (Renee's mom)

  6. I love your Compassion Altar, esp. about that Virgen de Guadalupe bit. In the stories I've read, there was never any mention that She also considered herself the Mother of other religions. That's...that's pretty awesome!

    Re altar: In my case, I am not aiming for an altar to remind me of what I want to be (as I can easily overlook it--when busy or just feeling stubborn). One day, I hope to wear a bracelet with pendants representing many world religions + maybe a necklace with just a circle pendant--to remind me that everyone is my bro/sis no matter their difference from me.


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