Tending to Your Altar in 2020: Honoring and Letting Go

January 8, 2020

As we enter a new decade, we wanted to share an invitation for introspection and reflection. What will you bring forward and what will you let go of?

A picture of CompassPoint's community altar with images memorializing Ancestors of our movements toward justice and liberation

Every day I walk into our office and I have the opportunity to interact with our altar. It sits right next to our front door. We started the altar years ago as part of a Día de Los Muertos ceremony in order to honor and celebrate our Ancestors. Over time, the meaning behind the altar broadened, and it became a sacred place to celebrate and honor our Ancestors in the larger movement towards justice and liberation. We did this with the intention of naming and acknowledging people whose lives and work have influenced us, even if they are not directly part of our bloodlines.  

This altar is deeply rooted in our values and represents something sacred - it’s more than just photos, poems, and flowers. The altar holds an endless reservoir of wisdom and serves as a bridge connecting our past to our future. At various times throughout the years, we’ve used the altar (both individually and collectively) for many purposes: to ground, as a source of inspiration, and to build community with one another. This has been true whether you work here every day or come to CompassPoint to attend a workshop. 

As we enter a new decade, we wanted to share an invitation to use the altar here as an opportunity for introspection and reflection.

If you are facing our altar in our office, you are facing the space between the North and the West. In Curanderismo (traditions of which have been passed to me through beloved teachers in my life), the two directions call us in unique ways. Given the directions, here are a few offerings for how to engage with the altar this month (whether you are physically here with us, tending to your own altar,  or visiting a space that’s sacred to you):

The Northern direction is the place of our Ancestors. It’s traditionally where we can have conversations with them and ask for forgiveness, help, or send them our appreciations. While at the altar, please reflect on one, some, or all of these questions:

  • Whose stories am I bringing forward into this new year?
  • How do the Ancestors want me to honor them this year?
  • What do the Ancestors want for me in 2020? Listen for messages through your body.

The West is where the sun sets, so this is traditionally where we say goodbye to people, things, and past versions of ourselves. We face this direction when we need to grieve the loss of something or someone and also when we just need to let go. While at the altar, please reflect on one, some, or all of these questions:

  • What habits am I letting go of in this new year?  
  • What stories (about myself or others) am I letting go of in this new year?  
  • Is there something that happened last year that I did not take the time and space to grieve for yet? Is this the moment to at least acknowledge it?
  • What else in my life needs to sunset?

Our hope is that opening up the opportunity to honor what you want to bring forward (and making space to let other things go) provides the roadmap to be able to come home to yourself this year. If you’re in the Bay Area, we encourage you to visit our altar next time you’re here, and if you’re not, we hope you’ll find a moment to reflect on what you need to make this a year of learning, growth, and healing in service of creating more justice and equity in our communities.  

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Excellent, inspiring and a good start to the new year.