Invoking Mary Magdalene
By Siobhán Houston
Hardcover with CD
The first phase of the Magdalene Path is to construct an altar, a special place where you will go on a regular basis to relate to the Magdalene. Most people will find it advantageous to have a tangible, established site for meditation and reflection, even though making a personal altar to the Magdalene is not essential in order to walk her path. Since this is your personal shrine, you are free to include anything of meaning, whether or not it is traditionally considered religious or spiritual. This is a time to look at your spirituality with a fresh eye—to be playful, imaginative, resourceful, and perhaps irreverent. Perusing a book like Altars and Icons by Jean McCann*, which portrays the sacred personal spaces of a diverse group of individuals, is a great way to start this creative process.
An important caveat for all the practices in this book, including the suggestions in this chapter, is that you should choose those activities with which you resonate and that you can fit into your schedule without undo strain. These practices are offered as havens that allow you to be for a time, rather than do. Turning them into goal-oriented chores to somehow fit into your busy schedule is counterproductive. And since prayer and meditation are non-linear activities, their quality is not determined by the amount of time spent on them. Remember to treat yourself kindly.
A low table in the corner of a room, a shelf or bookcase, or even a windowsill is a perfectly acceptable site for your shrine. If your altar is set up in a room that you also use for other purposes (which is the case for most of us), there is a simple way to mark out your consecrated space: obtain a rug or mat specifically designated for use during your meditation time, and then fold or roll it up and stash it away when you are finished. The unfurled rug or mat denotes the area as a temenos—or sacred precinct—and temporarily differentiates it from the other activities taking place in the room. With regular use, the sublime energies generated by your practice will permeate your temenos, which will in turn assist you in entering a meditative state more quickly.
Your shrine may be adorned in a simple or elaborate way, depending on your personal tastes and the amount of time you wish to devote to it. For the most part, constructing a shrine starts with some favorite and evocative objects—such as pictures of special places and people, statues, natural items like stones and feathers, and other mementos—and then evolves.
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