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Altars, art and "just art."

I love my altars, and I love them to be pretty with shinies (or is that shiny with pretties?). A dedicated shrine like mine to Aphrodite eventually is covered with gifts and fancies; a group shrine tends to be less stuff-packed but then there are more god-images to take up the space.

What I am saying, really, is that when I became a pagan I really embraced the whole graven images thing!

But sometimes it is hard to find the right graven image. Sometimes, no matter how lovely an image is, or how much it seems to represent deity, it just doesn't work as an altar piece.

I first had this happen a few years back when we got the Odin from Oberon Zell's Mythic Images collection; I don't think it is in production anymore, which is a shame because it is a stunning piece and I love it. But it just didn't work on the altar. It's now what I call "just art," which I hope no one will find hurtful because I don't mean it that way--what I mean is that it stands on its own as a beautiful object but, somehow, on my altar, it never "got Odinny" if you know what I mean. (I thought for a while that this was because it was a full-color piece and most of my statuary is in only one color, that maybe that made me see it as primarily decorative rather than devotional, but I have other full-color statues that have been excellent devotional pieces.) So it's on display, because I love it, but it's not on an altar. It's "just art."

I do think it also depends on the deity in question. I have used several (okay, five) different images of Aphrodite over the years and they have all worked. I have also used four different images of Hekate (not counting the one by the front door) and all have "felt" right. So I think that some gods are more likely to, well, put a candle in the window, whether because of an existing relationship or because they just tend to do that. (Dionysos, for example, is famously present and accessible. :))

I'm not really sure what it is that makes one piece "work" while another does not. It's like...some pieces are like houses, while others are kind of like houses but don't have doors or windows. I'm not really sure what I think about the role of god-images; for a long time I just kind of figured they were a point of focus but the longer I spend at this, the more I think there is something else going on there, that while certainly they are a focus they can also sometimes be a conduit--or, perhaps, a "house." :)

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
whitecrow0
Dec. 11th, 2012 06:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. I know *EXACTLY* what you are saying. I've felt the same confusion and frustration in the past. (I can't say present because I'm a BAD PAGAN! *'.'*)
chronarchy
Dec. 11th, 2012 09:18 pm (UTC)
When I started putting together those Pagan prayer cards, I had to get over the fact that some people wouldn't like the image I picked for the deity in question. Then I realized I could do a whole set of Odins, and I was suddenly very much happier :)

But I get the idea that some of the representations don't quite "work" for you. Many don't "work" for me, either.
angiereedgarner
Dec. 15th, 2012 10:06 pm (UTC)
I think it's mostly in the viewer. I've studied so many images that have devotional potence for other people, and some I find to be so oddly flat and devoid!

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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