Every shrine needs a keeper.

Shrines are busy places. Someone needs to sweep away the ash, compost the wilted flowers, remove the food offerings before they go bad.

In a timely manner, mind you, but not too soon. Part of the joy of shrines—part of the encounter that takes place there—is the evidence of the worship of others.

Another part of the keeper's job is to decide. Not all offerings are, shall we say, worthy.

The plastic, the cutesy, the distracting: they've served their purpose. (The worth of the offering is in the making.) Off with them to the favissa. (The Romans had a name for everything.)

After all, they've been given: they belong to a god now. Worthy or not, they still need to be treated with respect.

That's why there's a special pit for sacred garbage.

You can be a shrine-keeper, too.

Chances are, there's a sacred place in your area that needs your custody.

One thing that impressed me about pagans in the UK, back when I was there—I assume (and hope) that this is true of other places, as well—was the way in which people voluntarily took on the care of local sacred sites: tidying, removing garbage, clearing offerings away before they become garbage.

It's an act of sacrifice, keeping a shrine. It takes time and energy.

But it will give you a special kind of relationship with a special kind of place.

And that, too, is worship.

 

Photo: Kile Martz, God-Pole

Sweetwood Temenos

SW Wisconsin