A Gratitude Altar for my Spirit Guides

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I’ve felt like i’ve been on fire these past few months: starting this blog, deciding to start an oral history project, applying to grad school, and many, many other projects y’all will get to see soon. i’ve felt engulfed by this passionate fire which has been immersive, consuming, and thrilling but has felt frenzied, wild, and uncontrolled at times.

through this entire process, when i’ve felt lost and clueless about the process, i’ve turned to my guides as my point of orientation—to be my star in the dark. honestly, they’ve been working overtime since the beginning of this year in helping me find my current job where I could be exposed to oral history, where I could see the potential in studying and documenting the history of witchcraft at an academic level, and where I could consider applying to graduate school.

when I started considering graduate school, I knew exactly what I wanted to study but had no idea which department to apply to and asked for further guidance. while I was taking the initiative to sit down and chat with different faculty members, I felt like I was following a trail of breadcrumbs that they had set out for me. I felt like I would get one piece of information from one person, then the next person to get another tidbit, and so forth until I finally found the department of folklore. during this entire process, the presence of my spirit guides felt loving, reassuring, and patient—what I grew up knowing as my guardian angel, Aurelius, even appeared during a shamanic journey to let me know that they had everything set up for me, I simply needed to listen.

after seeking all of this guidance and insight from my spirit guides, I knew I wanted to pay them homage in a way that was a little bit beyond the normal “thank you” spoken to them—but where to start?

featured image Hans Vivek via unsplash.

MAKING a Gratitude altar

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SELECTING HERBS, CRYSTALS, AND OTHER MATERIALS FOR YOUR SPIRIT GUIDES

when I went on a shamanic journey to the underworld as part of a class I was taking, I was met by my spirit guide/guardian angel from my catholic upbringing, Aurelius. during this journey, I was able to receive guidance and great comfort from him. when it was time for the journey to end and for me to return home, he told me I could always return whenever I needed to. when contemplating which herbs and elements to collect for the altar I wanted to make, I wanted to make sure it was something that my spirit guides would enjoy—so I decided to go consult him.

I set aside some time to lay down on my couch and close my eyes. as I began to meditate, i imagined going back down into the underworld the same way I arrived there last time—by climbing through a hole in my backyard and descending down the stairs in my mind’s eye. when I descended the marble stairs, I was greeted by Aurelius who is always donning a long, white gown trimmed with gold. around him and in the background are figures bustling about. while I see these figures moving about industriously, I never get a really good look at them.

we walked over to a stone that is almost in a table-like formation that we had spoken at the last time I visited. I explained that I wanted to prepare an altar for him and my other guides, but that I wanted to choose offering they would like. we started to go through the list of different herbs, bones, crystals, and other objects that I had on hand and he would offer his approval for particular object. it was interesting to see what he would select and which things he wasn’t interested in. for example, he was very intent on having a deer bone necklace I own being included in the altar.

it was honestly quite delightful to get a little shopping list from my guardian angel and to get to know more thoroughly his likes and dislikes. I made sure to repeat the list back to him before heading back up the marble stairs, climbing up through my backyard, and blinking my eyes open to awake on my couch.

as I began to collect the items that aurelius had specified, I also utilized one of my favorite tools, my pendulum! I asked IF MY SPIRIT GUIDES WOULD LIKE ME TO USE CERTAIN ESSENTIAL OILS, CRYSTALS, AND HERBS that I may not have discussed with aurelius. it felt warm and cozy to be in active dialogue with my spirit guides during this process—it’s that same sort of giddiness that comes from getting a gift that you know someone will love! just as when I was in conversation with aurelius, the active discovery of my spirit guide’s likes and dislikes was just so wonderful. along the way I learned they have a huge penchant for rosemary!

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making a Gratitude jar

I knew before I started collecting materials that I wanted to make a gratitude jar as part of the altar. gratitude jars are what they sound like, a jar that is filled with the different things you are grateful for. there are a variety of ways to utilize a gratitude jar: a way to manifest other positive aspects of your life, a means of being grateful, perhaps to even protect the things you’re grateful for, and above all else it’s a way to orient your mind around and reflect on the things in your life that are working well and flowing!

in this instance, I wanted to make a gratitude jar as a means of putting a name to the things in my life that I would like to thank my spirit guide’s for their involvement in. it’s a wonderfully easy offering to make as it only requires a jar, paper, and herbs that you’d like to include. as mentioned previously, I went through the process of asking my spirit guides what herbs they would like but you could always use particular herbs based on your motivation for creating a gratitude jar.

I took the following steps to make my gratitude jar to thank my spirit guides:

  1. I started to fill the jar with the different herbs that had been selected: marshmallow root, cinnamon chips, rosemary, comfrey leaf, and incense

  2. once partially filled, I took some notebook paper and starting to write down the different things and aspects in my life that I was grateful for in my life and for my guides providing them

  3. once I was done listing, I ripped each sentence into its own individual strip of paper, rolled it up, placed it into the jar, sealed it, and set it aside

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preparing the candle

in addition to the jar, I wanted to dress a candle to light on my altar.

I prepared my candle using the different essential oils, glitter, as well as rolling it in frankincense and rosemary. as I rolled the candle through the oils, glitter, and herbs, I held the list of things I was grateful for in my mind and thanked my spirit guides for helping with each of those items.

at the time I wasn’t really think about the mechanics of how the candle would burn as I’ve typically dressed smaller candles, but for larger ones I would recommend placing most of the herbs at the top of the candle or even within it if you’d like for the herbs to ignite as the candle burns.

GIVING THANKS

once I was ready, I placed the jar and candle on the altar. I then took time to arrange the remaining crystals and bones around the offerings.

I took a moment to center myself and lit the candle I had prepared.

as I sat down in front of the altar, I gazed softly at the flame and the following prayer came to mind:

life is fleeting,

life is short,

thank you for supporting me,

guiding me,

protecting me

while a simple prayer, the words seemed to spring straight from my heart. I murmured the prayer softy as music played in the background. the flame of the candle remain strong and bright, but I watched as it flickered energetically. it almost seemed to be a joyous movement, that of dancing; at times, it seemed like it was flickering along to the music that was playing. either way, I felt surrounded by warmth, joy, and felt elated at strengthening the bond between myself and my guides. it only makes me look forward to finding out more of their preference for herbs and how they choose to communicate, such as through the flickering flame of a candle.

let me know if this was helpful, if you have questions, or, if you made your own gratitude altar using this article, what your experience was like—I would love to hear from you! simply send me a little letter via email, facebook, or instagram!

until next time,

xo bri