When you first start to read “Your Altar” by Sandra Kynes, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. If you’re like me, when you think of setting up an altar, particularly a home altar, you imagine a wonderful jumble of icons, mementos, crystals, and aromas. Set up solely to please the eye, with no deeper thought than that. Then you open up “Your Altar” and you find yourself going, what?! You want me to follow set ups?! Some so involved that I may want to chart them out?! Whatcha talkin’ about Sandra?
Then as you continue to read, you realize what’s going on. Sandra Kynes is providing us with a guide to exploring our relationship with our altar. She offers various game plans from approaching one-part altars (you know, altars with one thing) up to nine-part altars (you can guess the difference right?). I know, this still sounds complex and overwhelming, but once you settle in and surrender yourself to the book all becomes well.
“Your Altar” isn’t just a book about altars, although obviously it could have been. This is a book about symbolism, history, meditation, archetypes, and how all of that can be used to create your personal altar. Each altar set up is its own chapter, rich with details, charts, and diagrams all designed to help you determine what is right for you. Honestly, the book is so authoritative on matters of symbolism that I will probably add it to my stock of reference books that I go to when writing articles about symbols for The Magical Buffet magazine! This book isn’t a rulebook; it’s a guidebook. A map to your altar, if you will.
Before you start learning about different altar set ups Kynes talks about meditation. It’s a wonderful little introduction to the concept of meditation for someone new to the idea, and a nice reminder of how it should be approached for those familiar with the practice.
The first Appendix to the book gives a very brief overview of the history of altars. Obviously, I found this to be tremendously interesting and could’ve read a whole book just about this. Perhaps that will be Kynes next book. She follows that Appendix with a second one about preparing crystals and gemstones for use. A very helpful section that serves to remind us that you cannot just slap a quartz point down and call it a day.
“Your Altar” although at first may seem constrictive in the end can be a map to personal spiritual freedom.
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