Creating a Birth Altar, Part 1

Inspired by birth altars created by artist Amy Swagman of The Mandala Journey, I decided I wanted to make a special birth altar for the birth of my daughter. My mom bought me a small, unfinished curio cabinet/shadow box to use for this purpose. The first thing I did was to paint it “placenta red” using a blend of red and purple paints to get the shade I wanted. This is my favorite “power” color.

Painted altar with door open (the door is glass, but it doesn’t show up in the pictures and looks like an empty frame).

I had a variety of postcards, tags, and inspirational words saved and some of them posted on the wall by my computer. I decided it was time to do something with all these accumulated goodies. I made a reversible, removable card to insert into the front door of the box. For the front panel, I used a card from Birthing from Within with a “kiva woman” painting that I really love and connect with. I didn’t like cutting it up, but it was worth it! Around the edges I used words from the tag that came with a shirt I purchased from WYSH (though the quotes are intended to be about the parenting journey, they are amazingly apropos for birth—which, of course, is part of the parenting journey too). I also used some of the tear off pages from a little “happy thoughts” sort of page-a-day calendar that I had a couple of years ago from a $1 Shop (again, totally appropriate for birth, even though it wasn’t the original purpose. Finally, my paper-hoarding tendencies came in handy, because these little words of wisdom were perfect!)

Part of me felt like I “shouldn’t” have so many words as part of my birth altar—birth brain doesn’t really “speak” in words, but words are my thing and my “medium,” so to speak, so I followed my intuition and I loved how it turned out. It was perfect.

First side of reversible card

I was a little less happy with the second side—I was going for less wordy on it and maybe I should have completely worded it up too! The upper left hand corner is a linoleum block print carved by my husband.

Second side of reversible card

Front of the altar with card inside:

Inside of door with card inside:

For the back, I had a small collection of items that are round and so I thought they seemed to go together. In the center, I attached a polymer clay womb labyrinth I made. In the upper right hand corner is a black and white drawings that I drew and that my mom modified and cut into a linoleum block print. The lower left hand corner is a postcard version of a womb labyrinth that I drew in 2007.

Then, I filled it up with some things that hold meaning to me that usually are around my house in various places including two of my polymer clay birth goddess sculptures. I included two little LED tea lights, which look cool (and safe) in there in real life, but are less cool in the pictures. I also put in a little plastic baby, which might be kind of weird—I couldn’t decide…

Remember the reversible card? Now the front is also the inside panel! :)

 

 

Opened all the way with front and back both visible.

This was a very fun and rewarding birth art project. You can see pictures of how I used the Birth Altar during my Mother Blessing Ceremony and also spy it in my Labor Pictures. I’d love to see photos of other women’s birth altars!

Modified from a post originally posted at Talk Birth.

"Sarah, my heart feels full at this, and I imagine yours feels all the fuller. ..."

Farewell to Pagan Families
"Thanks for your good work, and good luck!"

Farewell to Pagan Families
"You will be missed. Thanks for all your work!"

Farewell to Pagan Families
"Or you could do both. Worst case scenario is the "woo", as you so inelegantly ..."

Ask Us: What symbol can I ..."

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment