My Practice: Morning Altars
An artist shares how his practice of creating beautiful morning altars blossomed.
Photo Courtesy of Day Schildkret
In My Practice, we share personal routines that create wellness and happiness from spiritual teachers, yogis, nutritionists, and more, in hopes to inspire your own healthy rituals.
Day Schildkret builds his “morning altars” inside Wildcat Canyon, Richmond, CA, with over 100 altars documented. His nature-based art installations and altars and privately commissioned pieces have been featured in festivals, retreat centers and events across the western states. He is also the founder of Legacy as Livelihood, a place for purpose coaching and learning. His vision is a book of morning altars around the world and for each season. Here, he shares how this practice blossomed:
“I started making morning altars as a part of the daily routine of walking my dog, Rudy. I leave my house every morning at 8 am and I fill my basket with things I find along the trail. When I began, it was a prayer practice, I created to work through my grief, both personally and for the collective. Martin Prechtel says beauty is what can metabolize grief, and for awhile there building these altars was saving my life; I was creating some beauty and praying with it.
I create on a public trail in the woods, so I have become a fixture on the path for people who walk on this path regularly. There is a constant interplay happening between myself, the land, and people and animals. One time I came by and I found a bouquet of flowers left for an altar I had created the day before, so I used those flowers to create the next altar, Another time I was in the middle of building an altar when a wild turkey walked by and dropped a feather, so I integrated that feather into the altar I was building. Another time, after being away for a week, I returned to discover that someone had used my materials to form a large question mark.
It’s a constant dialogue with place and has taught me how to be in a relationship with a world that is constantly changing, while teaching me about how to not be attached.
I make these altars as an offering, but they are also nourishment. The beauty gets metabolized, by the land, and sometimes by the animals that eat them! Building these morning altars is my greatest expression of how I feed my spiritual path; it has changed me to have a practice I am devoted to and invited me into the conversation: ‘What does it mean to create beauty every day as a practice and a way of giving back?’
It’s like having a relationship, if I don’t do it, it starts to call to me.”