This week I’ve been working on setting up a home shrine, ADF style. We’ve had a family altar for years and years, but I don’t think it’s very ADF and since it’s a family project, it’s not mine to remake.

family altar at our house

Our family altar is a four element altar– earth, air, fire, water. Items are put on there by all our various family members, so at first glance it’s a bit chaotic. It goes through phases of having more and less stuff on it. This is actually one of the “less” phases.  For a while, every bit of nature that the kids brought home ended up on the altar and we had about a dozen more rocks, seedpods, shells, feathers, and etc. Occasionally I’ll find a cat whisker on it. I don’t know if the cats are donating them directly, or whether those also come through the human children.

After a lot of thought, I finally settled on the top of the buffet in the dining room for my ADF style shrine. It has an eastish (east-southeast) facing window. It’s a relatively quiet room that we only use for meals and art projects.

my adf style altar

For the tree element, I’m using a rock tree. I’d like to have a living tree, but this will work for now. Its height didn’t work with my personal sense of aesthetics, so I elevated it by putting a box to store incense, salt and stuff underneath. A friend gave us the lovely 3 candle candle holder some time ago, I think it was waiting for this shrine all along! I plan to get red, black and white candles for it when I can.  The blue glass bowl on the left is the well; I’ve used it for water altars and a blessing bowl many times in the past, so it has very strong “water” connotations for me. In the center, I have a bowl for offerings. It’s a bowl I find especially lovely and it seemed to be the right size. Underneath it all is an old fashioned dresser scarf hand-embroidered by a deceased relative (either my maternal grandmother or one of my maternal aunts). I like the Ancestor connection in the piece even though it’s not exactly my style.

My new shrine looks sparse to me, but I don’t have any inspiration on what to add yet. For now I’m using it for morning devotions, offerings to the Lares and Penates.  Eventually I think I will add a devotional candle (though with 4 cats, it can’t stay lit continuously) and maybe a vase for floral offerings. The other day I brought a flower from the garden in for offering and ended up floating it in the well. Not sure about that!

I expect the ADF shrine to be an ongoing, evolving project.


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