Walhydra's buddy Grumpy Granny recently left a comment on the Back Porch about the image in the blog header:
Walhydra figures it might be fun to give her readers a bit of a tour. She feels rather silly about this, but then she knows she likes to show off. Why else publish a blog to begin with?
Now, Walhydra doesn't usually think of this as an altar. It's just the worktable that holds her PC, keyboard and monitor.
Even so, she's strewn it with precisely arranged geegaws, just as she does any surface she can get at.
When she lived with Nikki (Husband #3) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, they had this ongoing teasing match about surfaces: dressers, credenzas, coffee tables and so on.
To Nikki, surfaces are just something to put things on. To Walhydra, of course, surfaces are something to display things on.
Every item aligned with every other in a sort of arcane aesthetic geometry which Walhydra herself doesn't actually understand. She never sees or assigns any "meaning" to the arrangements. Nonetheless, she can just tell when they aren't right, when this book is just a smidge too many degrees rotated in relation to that knickknack...and so on.
Hey. Virgo. Whadaya expect?
Once, Nikki caught Walhydra moving a stone on their coffee table slightly to the left.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"I'm making it look more random," she said, grinning at her silly self as she did so.
From then on, whenever they had a spat, at some point one or the other of them would threaten: "I'm going to rearrange the stones on your dresser and break the spell!"
Of course, Hubby Jim (#4 and holding) has caught onto this trait of Walhydra's...and he doesn't hesitate to tease her about it. She, in turn, teases him about the eight-year-deep midden heaps of letters, bills, printouts, books, floppy disks, etc., all around his work area.
Anyway, back to the altar. This being a workspace for communication—Virgo communication, at that—it presumably ought to belong to Hermes/Mercury.
Walhydra relishes the hodgepodge realm of rulerships ascribed to this deity: messenger of the gods, patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of thieves and road travelers, of orators and wit, of literature and poets, of athletics, of weights and measures, of invention, of general commerce, and of the cunning of thieves and liars.
She takes an especially perverse satisfaction in the trickster aspects, which she associates with other favorite dieties and totems.
Crow, Ratatosk, Loki....
She's much less satisfied with that business about Mercury Retrograde, though she sometimes manages to deal with it in her own grumpy, anti-social way.
In any event, looking at this image of her workspace, the gentle reader might notice that Walhydra is what a snide friend of hers once called a "crystal queen."
There was a time when Walhydra gave serious study to the alleged metaphysical powers of crystals. Now she tends to just have them about or carry them as the whim moves her.
With extremely few exceptions, she prefers uncut, unpolished crystals. Those prettified stones in the New Agey stores, the ones with all their facets polished smooth, give her the willies! They feel dead—or, much worse, alive but trapped in deaf, dumb and blind bodies!
"How would you like to have all your unique character, your wrinkles and warts and birthmarks, sanded off?" she asks. "It's criminal!"
But crystals aren't really the point. Arcane alignments aren't the point.
The point—all joking aside—is that Walhydra genuinely delights in being surrounded by beautiful, vibrant beings, and this is what she'd done with her Hermes Altar.
Above the desk on the west wall is what's left of a Vietnam 1972 red dragon poster (the borders were trimmed to remove spaghetti sauce splotches from when this used to hang over her stove).
The blotch in the lower left of the frame is a yellowed fourleaf clover, brought to her years ago by one of her counseling clients, when this dragon hung in her office in a medium/maximum security men's prison in South Carolina.
To the right on the north wall is a small Green Tara tanka.
Neither image does justice to the clarity, detail or power of the originals, yet the reader can at least get a sense of color.
Hubby Jim always teases Walhydra that her favorite color is bland. But that's just because, on a day-to-day basis, Walhydra wears "uniforms." Khaki and mildly colored business shirts to work; black on black, sometimes with an autumn-colored shirt, on her own time. It keeps things simple.
In any event, here's the sweet little character who keeps Walhydra company as she types. He sits to her left on a wooden stool. A little rag doll she found at the Christmas Made in the South trade show, the second year she and Jim were in Florida.
The little guy was made of found cloth fragments by an Appalachian craftswoman. Although he may look forlorn, he actually has a funny smile made with Xs of black thread.
Walhydra thinks of him as that happy inner child, pre-polio, who loved magical adventures and the the color yellow.
His neighbors are a pottery frog candleholder, a moss agate bowl, a jade bear totem and a tangerine quartz point.
Then there's a cluster of stuff on the left back corner of the worktable.
No, that's not one of the monoliths from 2001: A Space Odyssey, although the little mannikin in front of it might feel like he's surrounded by monoliths. It's just a speaker for the PC.
This little guy hasn't revealed a persona, as the rag doll has, but Walhydra found him at her favorite art supply store...so that says something. He raises his right hand over a big quartz crystal. To his right are both selenite and smokey quartz. That's an orange fire agate in front of the selenite.
The beautiful piece to his left is polished labradorite (one of those rare exceptions to Walhydra's taboo on polishing stones). Other odds and ends: a Tibetan quartz cluster (in the shadows), a tiny quartz wand, a coiled snake netsuke (polymer, not ivory), black tourmaline, a black tektite, a quartz ball and an apophyllite pyramid.
And, of course, the eyes of the Compassionate Buddha—in case Walhydra ever bothers to notice that she's being looked upon lovingly by the cosmos she grouches about so much.
Best for last....
Yes. That's Hubby Jim.
In the late 1980s, Walhydra took a darkroom course—remember way back in another century, when photographs were recorded on film and had to be developed?
She could never get JimJim to pose for her without his making a silly face, but he finally let her take this one while drinking cappucino in front of their favorite Columbia, SC, coffeehouse.
It's actually Walhydra's favorite picture of her Sweet Man, because it captures his Leonine Urban-ity (that's a private joke).
The little guy in the corner is JimJim in around 3rd grade. (The pink tint is not because he already knew he was gay then, but because the photo faded.)
The odds and ends: rough faceted rubies and garnets, witchy finger rings, and a long quartz crystal. (There's some purple flourite, amethyst and lepidolite off camera to the right.)
Oh, and, yes, she is left-handed. Of course!
So there you have it: way more than you ever wanted to know about Walhydra's obsessively organized work space.
And maybe a hint that, even though she's learned (through many painful mistakes) that it's best to laugh at herself in public, she also knows that any stone can vibrate with life.
And so it is.