I've talked before about how I've been working with Mara in one form or another for about ten years now, since being introduced to her by my ex. My relationship with her has been evolving and complicated for most of that time. In comparison, since getting the impression I should approach Laima last month, I feel like any relationship with her will necessarily pale next to the complex weave of my relationship with Mara. I realize this is just the nature of a new relationship, but it's still a hangup I need to get past.
Laima is the Latvian goddess of fate, along with related spheres like luck, pregnancy, marriage and the seasons. In this last respect she's associated with Cuckoo, so I used that as a starting point to relate to her. I've been digging around in academic sources, Dievturi websites, and anything else I can find to get an initial introduction.
Getting to know a new deity is always an exercise in balance between research and experience. In this case I'm leaning a bit more heavily on experience because of the "introduction" I got from Mara. My frantic attempts at research promise to balance that out soon, though. I can already see why she'd be good for me, though - I have a very hard time accepting luck, especially good luck, and simply appreciating it rather than thinking that it opens me up for something bad to happen.
Laima encourages me to appreciate luck - both truly random luck and the kind that actually is the result of past actions. We had some tough times over the last six months, between moving, terrible temporary jobs, high stress and unexpected expenses, but my friends are amazing and that's not luck so much as it's valuing the amazing people who pass through my life.
And I got a statue. I don't usually put a deity on my altar right out the gate, but in this case, I think Mara was "pushing" for it. There aren't exactly a lot of reproduction Eastern European deity statues out there, so I've had to be creative with my statue searches. Mara is often associated with the Catholic Mary, and I found a statue of Mary that seemed a good fit for her. Laima is usually seen as related to Lakshmi, and fortunately Hindu statuary is also pretty easy to find. I got to practice listening for her as I browsed various statues, looking over the different iconography and asking her what she wanted.
This necessitated some altar reorganization. I have a love/hate relationship with altars - it's as complicated as my relationship with stuff and decluttering as a whole, like a microcosm of that battle.
I love altars. I especially love altars that look organic and lived-in and well-tended, with lots of small, semi-permanent offerings and gifts. I love statues. I love candles. My altar is currently located in built-in shelves in a nook in our apartment. I had three shelves to work with, and the ended up themed - lower world/water, middle world/earth, upper world/fire - by accident, though if I've read correctly, I'd be in good shape if I was a druid. On these three shelves, I've managed to fit eight deities and numerous smaller spirits - nine now that I found a place for Laima.
I'm constantly fighting the feeling that I should have a simpler altar just because it would be "less cluttered" and because my ex's altars were extremely large and complicated, often to the point of overwhelming everything else around them. That works for some people, but I'm not wired to live in a temple.
I don't think the extremely simplistic altar would work for me either, though. I've looked at very minimal altar designs online, and while they can be visually appealing, I can't imagine living with them.
So I go with what appeals to me and seems to please my gods, and file the impulse toward "minimal altar" away with things like "we don't really need chairs!" and other lessons I've "learned" from minimalist blogs. That's really the only choice that makes sense for me. I'll keep admiring other altars online, though, and working on my issues with stuff.