Jack of Many Trades

An Altar for Rán

Originally posted: 2012-07-04

[caption id="attachment_1994" align="alignright" width="225"] Altar to Ran[/caption]

My altar to Rán is very much a work in progress, and I suspect it’s going to remain that way for a long time. Rather than a flat surface, it’s built around a net hung from the wall.

I thought about how to create an altar to Rán for several months before finally understanding how I should do it. Part of my inspiration came from Galina Krasskova’s Full Fathom Five, in which there’s an essay describing an altar to the Waves that was constructed as a mobile. The rest came from the lore, where Rán’s net is one of her most recognizable traits.

A large glass float hangs above the net. These floats were originally developed in Norway in the early 1800s and were attached to nets to make it easy for fishermen to retrieve them. I’ve been fascinated by cobalt glass since I was a child, when my father started collecting these and other fishing paraphernalia to decorate the area around the pool, so the blue glass float has a lot of personal meaning and energy as well as the symbolism inherent to a device designed to make sure nets returned to their owners.

The net itself has many different items strung from it. Most of the decorations are shells with holes drilled in them for string. Many of them are recent acquisitions but not all of them are. Some shells I’ve kept for years without a real reason, souvenirs of childhood vacations and of studying abroad. There are other pieces strung on there as well – a pair of shark jaws I got on a whim, strings of shell beads, an old shark-tooth necklace. A pendant that resembles a ship’s wheel, another that’s made of sea glass carved into the shape of an arrowhead. Other jewelry that seemed appropriate. I have some small gold pieces and charms that still need to be cleaned and blessed before they go up, along with some strands of pearls that seem to need a new home.

I’m sure this style of altar won’t be for everyone, but as my apartment is suffering from a lack of flat surfaces anyway and to me, it feels right.