Travel Altars

the Buddha and Susan B Anthony
the Buddha and Susan B Anthony

One thing I like to do when I’m out of town for any length of time, especially if I’m staying in the same place, is to set up some kind of small altar just to help me stay focused. I prefer to travel light, though, so any travel altar I use is necessarily very minimalist.

At right is the set-up I took with me last week when I travelled for work. Yes, that is a tiny plastic Buddha and a Susan B. Anthony dollar.

The Buddha is pretty straightforward, I think? Though maybe I should explain, since I’m not much of a Buddhist anymore. I use my tiny plastic Buddha as a stand-in reminder of everything I learned from Buddhism. He’s what I focus on when I calm myself and meditate. I could use my tiny resin Kuan Yin just as well, but he travels a little better.

The Susan B. Anthony dollar is both a little more abstract and a little more specific. While Mara is much more thanjusta money goddess, dollar coins in particular are an offering I’ve associated with her for about as long as I’ve worked with her. I could have just as easily used a Sacajawea dollar for her, but the Susan B. was the one that turned up first. I used to favor the Susan B. for her because it was much less common than the Sacajawea, but now they’re both getting drowned out by Presidential dollar coins, so I’m happy to accept either one turning up.

I’ve seen travel altars that include a full kit – tiny candles, or eight tiny bowls, or tiny representations of all four directions, and so on. While I find these very impressive and well-packed, I don’t find them particularly useful for my needs when I’m on the road. I do very little in terms of practice when I’m travelling for work. It’s, well, work, and I’m generally sufficientlly annoyed at being there and not here at home that I’m not good for much else.

Now, this is entirely different from my working bag. I’ve seen other people online talk about their “magic kit” (ie. crane bag, vanabag, medicine bag, pathwalking kit, spiritwork kit) but I haven’t had much occasion to talk about mine yet. Probably a large part of that has to do with the fact that I largely dismantled mine before the move last summer and never got around to reconstituting it. Now that I think about it, that’s probably something I should get around to doing soon. Hold me to that, okay, guys? And when I’m done, I’ll write about it.

0 thoughts on “Travel Altars

  1. I like this idea a lot. I think I might take your idea and run with it, but instead of creating an altar, I could create some sort of little hanging thing that could easily slip in a suitcase, etc. Maybe with the four elements on it, etc. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. I’m always interested in the spiritual work of others, for various reasons, despite my lack of such work. I’m definitely interested in seeing your kit.

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