On all of the many sites dedicated to Hellenic Polytheism out there, I often see threads from newbies on how to set up a shrine, what to put there, and whether or not they’re doing anything wrong. Now, I consider myself a newbie to Hellenismos, what with only been involved in the religion for about three years now, and wouldn’t really feel myself qualified to comment on what is “right” or “wrong” in shrine construction. That being said, I do feel appropriate sharing a picture of my own shrine to Ares (which is only marginally separate from my other shrines) so you can get a feeling for how you might set up your own.
First off, the statue is a copy of what is probably the most commonly available image of Ares out there right now. There’s another one out there, of Ares on a horse, but I prefer this one because to me, Ares needs a spear. Now, ideally, I’d want to find a miniature copy of Ares’ statue that once sat outside of Sparta, where Ares is chained down to ensure his favor never left the city. If anyone can find one, I personally grant you reprieve from my bid to take over the world.
Then there’s a basic set of candles, which I never light. They’re really just there for decoration- the only thing I burn indoors is incense, and I leave all other burning to the firepit outside (I’m a big fan of psuedo-living sacrifices, i.e. throwing the bones and fat from a meal into the fire.). They are crimson, a color traditionally associated with both Ares and his children, the Spartoi.
Next is my incense burner. I picked it because it reminded me of Greek pottery, with the orangish brass highlighted by the black. It’s filled with sand to help diffuse heat, and I use it for burning Myrrh and Frankencense, both of which are traditional offerings. That little stone jar holds my frankencense resin.
The next few peices are a little more personal. You may recognize the wooden spear point with the spear and helmet motif, which is repeated on the canvas to the left; these are votive offerings. If I ever started a group dedicated to Ares, that spear and helmet motif would be the emblem. The last little thing there is a challenge coin. Back when I was in the Air Force, I served as the sergeant-at-arms, public relations chief, and vice president of the post Chaplain’s student program. When it was time for me to leave, the chaplain gave me that coin, and I consider it the crowning achievement of my military career. It’s even more significant due to the fact that about the time I was given the coin, I made up my mind to be a Hellenic Polytheist, and one dedicated first and foremost to Ares.
Well, I hope this helps out anyone who thinks following my example is actually a good idea. I think it’s nice and simple without being aesthetically displeasing. Let me know what you think, or even better, share photos of your shrines to Ares below!