Altar Building Ritual for Celebrating Self-Love
I've been dancing in water these past few days.
Earlier this week, September 7th and 8th, along with tens of thousands around the world, I celebrated Yemaya and Oshun's feast days. Deities of the Ifa tradition, Yemaya is the all-Mother and her sister Oshun shares the sweetness that makes life worth living. The Two Waters, Yemaya (salt water) and Oshun (sweet water) teach their children lessons of self-love learned from their own often painful experience.
Traditionally, members of our community gather in our elders' home and bring in the feast days in much style, music, and pomp. We all dress in blues, whites, silvers, and golds and share laughter and food to honor the orishas. This was unavailable to me as I live alone in a city quite far from my elder's home and far enough from most of my community that a commute is out of the question. It was true of my situation last year as well, the difference this year being that I've learned that abundance is available to me wherever I am.
As such, this year I joyfully chose to build an altar of celebration in my home, set it up in pride of place for just little old me to enjoy- and trusted that it would be worth the time and energy. As I dressed the altar I soon realized that the offering was not just for Yemaya and Oshun, it was also for me, my own full and at times pained heart and joy, honoring the love that I have carefully tended for myself.
Ritual and healing is always available to you.
Your magic is always available to you.
Watermelon, papaya, lemons, oranges, mint, honey, and a breathtaking bouquet of sunflowers. A trip to the thrift store will yield a vase tall and strong enough to hold your sunflowers and some gorgeous scarves in gold and blue to dress your Two Waters altar. Add candles and tarot and your favorite crystals and sweet herbs. Be sure to dance and sing and cry and smile and laugh and jump to joyful song as you create.
Celebrate Yemaya who invites us to the shores of her ocean and asks us to dive in. In her sacred waters she takes us on, all of our light and shadow, washes us and sanctifies us. Yemaya knows salt and she welcomes our tears knowing well the release that comes with them. At the bottom of the ocean we leave our trauma, pain, and old bones. Mother bears us back to shore.
Celebrate Oshun who meets us at the shore and offers to fill up the space left empty by our release. Instead of pain she offers laughter, a siren calling us up the river and inviting us to fall in. We drink thirstily of the sweet water and call in love, call in joy, call in pleasure, call in desire, call in abundance, call back our smiles to us. At the river's edge we emerge, and she holds up her very own mirror so that we may see our own brilliance, dressed in gold of our own making. Oshun gifts us honey kisses dropped on our tongues so that we may always keep her sweetness with us.
Your love is always available to you.
As always, the ritual is for your own healing, so feel free to add, leave out, or substitute whatever you like, in exactly the way it works for you.