V is for Veiling A Shrine

Look! A wild PBP post appeared! 😀

Y’know, I’m half convinced my muses have taken the last few weeks off, because I gave it three exams and NaNo to deal with in November, and I think they’re all bloody exhausted. Have done little writing in December, and even less on the PBP posts I need to catch up with. I still feel a little braindead, tbh, but gaming has helped. I’d forgotten just how damn pretty the water in Age of Empires III is. ❤ *makes yet another British Home City to play with* And, y’know, my GenII Pokémon games won’t play themselves, so. Distractions ahoy! 😀

Nevertheless, I persevere. I want to get all these done by the end of the year, dammit, even if I’m up late on New Year’s Eve and post the last one at 11:59pm. I WILL GET THEM ALL DONE. Even that last P post I kept procrastinating on. 😀 So I’ve sat meself down and got three done. This one, the next V one, and the first W post. Progress! 😀 Will post the other two tomorrow, I think.

Anyway. Enough of my rambling. I thought I’d tackle shrine veiling for this post because it’s something I’ve done for most of the time I’ve been Pagan, and I don’t know if anyone else actually does it, so I thought I’d take some time to talk about why I veil my shrine and what it means to me. And, IDK, if anyone else does it, do let me know? I’d love to know I’m not the only one who does this.

Pretty much every shrine I’ve had has been veiled. Even the rudimentary naos I made years and years ago had curtains rather than doors. Part of it is not being able to find anything appropriate with doors, but still wanting some way of being able to cover the God statues. (Because that’s what I did back then.) So I settled on veiling, and continue veiling to this day.

Veiling shrines isn’t a historical practice, as far as I can tell, in any particular culture. I haven’t seen any modern Pagans doing it either, though this could just be because I haven’t asked or they haven’t talked about it. Either way, I know it’s not a common practice.

I’m still trying to figure out why the veil and not the doors. Even when I was more “purely” Kemetic than I am now, I still veiled the shrine. Aset Herself asked for the current veiling with the meshy starry material, so I’m sure it’s somehow important to Her that the shrines are veiled in this way, or She wouldn’t have asked for it.

In trying to figure out why it appeals to me, I’ve niggled out a connection to the High Priestess tarot card, where she sits in front of the veil between the worlds. The High Priestess card from my Ancient Egyptian Tarot shows Aset in this role, and I can’t say I don’t think of that card when I approach my shrine, particularly when She was the one asking for a veiled shrine.

I think, in some ways, it acts as a necessary barrier between sacred space and mundane space. I don’t have room for a separate shrine room, so all my shrines are in my bedroom. It’s not ideal, but I make do. So in some ways, it acts as a way to delineate that space from the rest of my mundane life. Perhaps that won’t be as necessary when I have a place of my own and can keep a separate shrine room. I don’t know. I think I would still miss having some sort of shrine in my room, even if I had a separate shrine room. But that is certainly one of the reasons I veil the shrine now.

I think what I like about it is the semi-transparent nature of it. The shrine is closed at the moment, with the curtains drawn across, but I can still see what’s hidden behind them. I … don’t think I’ve ever liked the idea of hiding my shrines away completely, where I can no longer see them. Perhaps that is part of my aversion to a closed, solid naos box.

There’s also the fact that I’ve never been particularly interested in Kemetic Temple religion either, and the naos is part of that. Ordinary people wouldn’t have had a naos. Niches for shrines for household Gods, perhaps, but not an actual naos. I sometimes wonder if perhaps I’m just more interested in the plain boring household stuff than the Temple religion. I mean, even the kind of things Sobek is asking of me aren’t really about the Temple religion. Well, they come from that hierarchy, but apart from reading rites, it’s not really about rites. If that makes sense. They’re much more practical and magical in nature.

More like the Cunningfolk of Britain than anything else in the sort of things He wants me to do. Magical protections, charms and amulets, spells, warding and other assorted things. Lots of folk magic, because it works, as well as heka. (Like, I keep getting badgered into having a go at making some small Kemetic clay amulets, for my magician’s box, as well as to sell. I’m still too nervous to have a go, though, even though I have clay waiting to be used. /filled with irrational sense of incompetence that comes with being asked to attempt any artistic skill that isn’t writing. *flails*)

Which is making me reflect a lot on the kind of personal religious practice I want to have and need to have. It’s hard to really do much because of the space I have. I’m also trying to remember that I won’t always have all the time in the world for daily devotions, and I will need to find a better way of managing that in, say, 5-10 minutes, rather than the 20-30 minutes my standard rite is. I know neither of these things seem particularly arduous, but including purification time, it does drag it out a lot more. The silent rite is shorter, because half the time I just gesture, but … I think I need something smaller still. A shorter devotional thing.

(Was that a long enough digression? I think so. Moving on then!)

What was I talking about? Oh, that’s right. I digressed on to household stuff. (…Am I the only one who finds it weird that Kemetic household practices aren’t really, well, reconstructed in modern times? Hmm. That’s for another blog post, I think. I need to do more research on that point before I post my Thoughts about it. /ignore this point.)

I think part of my reluctance to use a solid naos is just because I am … not really only focussed on one God? I pondered it in terms of something of a polyamourous polytheist a while back, though it’s kind of imprecise. IDK. Or maybe it’s precise enough? (It’s entirely possible I’m overthinking things again.) It’s that … lack of a single deity that I worship personally that makes me less inclined to use a naos. Which is not to say that only one God can inhabit a naos at a time; I’ve seen a naos with two Gods. A shrine with that kind of singular (or dual) focus doesn’t work for me or my practice. I also don’t want to start down the naos road, because then everyOne would want one, and just – no. You get shared shrine space, or nothing at all. Veiling, in this sense, makes life much easier. I can just draw a veil over everyOne and the shrine is closed. No fiddling, no special treatment for anyOne, just one veil (well, two; it is in two halves), and it’s all closed off.

I don’t know if these things make any sense. I’m still not sure if I have my thoughts clear or if I’ve just repeated the same point several dozen times and just haven’t realised it. I’ve never particularly thought about why I veil the shrine very much, so I don’t really have any concrete thoughts on it. Just ponderings that I hope might help illustrate why I do this. Any and all thoughts appreciated.

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One comment on “V is for Veiling A Shrine

  1. von186 says:

    I think that veiling and having doors is of the same nature. I know you make a distinction, but to me, its more of a preference as a means of hiding the icons- the core function remains the same.
    I prefer to have my icons covered in some fashion- doors or otherwise. During certain times of the year (Mysteries, as an example) I would veil parts, or all of my shrine- for various reasons (this was back when I didn’t have a fully closable kar shrine).
    In AE, the doors were there on purpose. The gods liked the dark quietness. It called back to zep tepi and all of that. The whole temple layout (sans Amarna period) was to slowly revert back in time. The temple would get darker, quieter. The floors lower and lower… and it would really be all about going back to the origins of everything. The nun, and the darkness found there. Because of that, I like having doors (plus, it was demanded that my new shrine have doors on it). So perhaps that is a reason behind the requests made of you. I also think its polite to have them covered sometimes- as a means of (as you said) breaking up mundane from sacred. I also prefer not seeing them all the time- knowing that the gods in my life is a gift- and they could leave at any time if they so chose. It sorta.. makes me value their presence more by not being able to see them all the time, if that makes sense.
    I like the idea of veiling. I prefer doors because of the dust that is around here, but it doesn’t change that I like it all the same :3

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