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Spirit Altars: Honoring the Fullness of Lost Loves

Create a physical honoring of a lost beloved that expresses the fullness of a complex spirit and relationship, offering connection to their essence that lives within you.

A resource by Andres Amador Arts

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A Spirit Altar is a physical honoring of a lost beloved. It is a creation that seeks to capture the fullness of a complex spirit and relationship, offering opportunity to connect to the essence of your loved one that lives within you while also helping to unravel unresolved complexities that may linger. When complete, the altar is an invitation for connecting with the spirit of our beloved.

There is no easy way to part ways from those you love. Often, the loss happens suddenly, without opportunity to prepare for or say 'goodbye', without opportunity to mend complex relationships. Even with the time that advanced preparedness of death may offer, as it can be with serious illness, parting can often feel incomplete.

The process of creating your Spirit Altar can offer calm to your heart as you connect to the spirit of your beloved that exists within you. This can allow you to engage the places of relationship conflict and complexity that can make traditional memorials, which often focus on the positive, feel incomplete.

A Spirit Altar can be engaged by all who feel connected to the lost loved one, both in its creation and once complete in the sharing of the stories attached to the items it contains. And the altar is never finished- it can continue to grow and change to reflect your processes of healing and the evolution of your relationship.

Grief is an emotion that is generally shunned in our western society. We have few outlets to express the depths and complexities of our emotions. Without this release, the grief can persist within us, impacting us in ways that can be harmful to our body or psyche. The process of creating your Spirit Altar is a way of walking directly into the pain in order to connect to the still living presence of your beloved in your life. Your loved one may no longer be with you in this material existence, but their impact on your life is real and persistent.

Spirit Altars are an opportunity to Celebrate and honor their spirit and yours.

The Program

The Spirit Altars program consists of bringing together items for a memorial artwork. The selection of these items is based on prompts that I give each session. During our sessions, whether in private or within a group, we unpack what has emerged since our last meeting and its prompt. The program is interspersed with special actions that correspond with the process. We meet live using zoom, weekly for 8 sessions. At the start of the program we have a phone call to understand your circumstances. And we complete with a goodbye call. During our time I am there alongside you, offering solace, support, encouragement, and perhaps insight.

My Inspiration

I am best known for the ephemeral large-scale art that I make, usually on beaches. I've been creating impermanent art for nearly 20 years. Early on the transient nature of my art began to have an impact on how I saw my life. It connected me to my own mortality and profoundly supported my journey along what has come to be a career as an artist. Also from early on I began sharing the art with others, first as assistants and then as workshops of collaborative group art. These workshops evolved into various forms including ones with more depth of intention and personal development potential. Periodically I have been commissioned to create artwork for memorials. When possible I bring the attendees into the creation as part of their ceremony. It is a profoundly therapeutic act to create beauty in the midst of sorrow. All these experiences have been rolling around together gestating. During the pandemic when all my beach work and workshops canceled, I looked for how to bring the power of what was coming through in my art and experiences to a broader audience than the in-person programs could offer. This led to a program called 'Living Altars', which takes the same approach as Spirit Altars, but is focused on creating an altar to oneself. It is about self-appreciation, self-acceptance, self-love, while supporting personal development that will likely arise. One day when communicating with someone about the Living Altars program, I learned that her daughter had died about a half year prior. I realized that the program I had been working on could not meet where she was in life at that moment. I immediately saw how the program could be altered to support her circumstance. The feedback was tremendous- you can read her thoughts in the testimonials on the header page.

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