Polytheist Problems Ancestor Edition LOL

I was meeting with one of my apprentices last week (as we do monthly) and we were discussing shrine work and she mentioned that due to space concerns she had her ancestor shrine in her bedroom. I used to live in a small New York City apartment so I know what it’s like trying to find space for shrines (especially when they keep growing!). I just nodded and made the offhand comment, ‘Be sure to cover the shrine when you’re ah….getting frisky.” The look of utter horror on my poor apprentice’s face was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time and we had quite a good laugh over it as the impact of what I’d said really hit home. This is a bit of protocol that most people aren’t generally taught and wouldn’t necessarily think of on their own so I promised that I would write a little something about it here. (Thank you, to the apprentice in question, for allowing me to use this as a teaching moment here on my blog!).

Now first of all I just want to say that I have amazing apprentices. They are all very devout, very talented, and very hard workers. That one of them did not know this is in no way a knock on her practice. It’s actually more on me because I should have thought to say something when she first set up her shrine but when you’re deeply steeped in practices for decades, it’s easy to forget the obvious.

So here’s the question: is it ok to put one’s ancestor shrine (or other shrines) in one’s bedroom.

The easy answer is yes, absolutely. Especially when living in a tiny space, we have to make do. There’s nothing inherently wrong about putting shrines in one’s bedroom. I have several in mine because I like to work at them (pray, meditate, make small offerings) before going to bed. It’s a good, practical space. Now here’s the caveat: because the bedroom is also the most intimate space in one’s home, special care has to be taken around the shrines. Allow me to explain.

Sex is awesome and there’s nothing wrong with it. LOL. It does however carry a measure of miasma (again, this is a neutral term. It does not mean it’s bad.) that should be cleansed away before approaching one’s shrines. More to the point, if it’s one’s ancestors, they probably don’t want to watch, no matter how skilled one might be a-bed. LOL. And I’m guessing that no matter how much one might love one’s ancestors, one does not want them watching either! A shrine is the home of spirits or Gods. It’s an invitation to those spirits or Gods to be present, a doorway or window into our world. Out of respect, I was taught that it is best to cover one’s shrines with a clean white cloth, if they are in one’s bedroom, before engaging in any sexual activity. It’s a simple matter of respect.

Now I have a huge folding screen that separates my shrines from the rest of my bedroom, which effectively negates this problem. The only shrines I might not cover are those to Deities that are specifically concerned with sex (my Freya shrine is also in my bedroom and I tend to leave it uncovered) though I might suggest doing divination to make sure the Gods in question are ok with that.

And, that is all I have to say on this topic.


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About ganglerisgrove

Galina Krasskova has been a Heathen priest since 1995. She holds a Masters in Religious Studies (2009), a Masters in Medieval Studies (2019), has done extensive graduate work in Classics including teaching Latin, Roman History, and Greek and Roman Literature for the better part of a decade, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology. She is the managing editor of Walking the Worlds journal and has written over thirty books on Heathenry and Polytheism including "A Modern Guide to Heathenry" and "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings about Odin." In addition to her religious work, she is an accomplished artist who has shown all over the world and she currently runs a prayer card project available at wyrdcuriosities.etsy.com.

Posted on April 22, 2017, in Ancestor Work, Ancestors, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. As the bedroom is the heart of a married couples life (usually) I think a small shrine for Tinia, Uni and Turan (Zeus, Hera and Aphrodite) to be quiet nice…but I agree once frisky goes on cover it up out of respect if nothing else.

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  2. I can imagine this being oh so the case with ancestors too lol. Then again I am sure no one wants the shade of great great grandma Emma giving unsolicited advise on bedroom proceedings either next time you visiting with ancestors . So it could be seen as a favor to us too lol

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  3. I’m glad you mentioned this: a lot of people (especially in New York City) don’t have a lot of room and wind up keeping shrines in their bedroom. There are other reasons to cover your shrines besides miasma. Fertility Gods might decide to bless you, which is a wonderful thing unless you weren’t planning on children at the moment. (I’ve seen people talk about dedicating orgies to Freyr: I didn’t stick around to find out what happened 9 months later). Also sex raises a lot of energy and can heat your spirits up like a quadruple espresso. Depending on what type of spirits we are talking about this can be a bad thing: generally it’s probably best to cover or block off the shrines before sex, so when in doubt I’d advise doing it.

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