Featured Altarist – Diana Seva

Diana is a heart centered teacher and healer utilizing a variety of tools she
integrates for each individual.

When did you build your first altar?  Did you think of it as an ‘altar’ at that time?

In elementary school, I liked to wander the grassy field on campus during recess and lunch breaks. I’d gather together twigs, hay, little flowers, and create a new sacred space for them somewhere secret.

Looking back, I treated these little earthy creations like an altar. But at the time, I wouldn’t have called it an altar. I figured I was simply a weird and imaginative girl who liked exploring the world around me. I loved (and still deeply love) connecting with the earth and honoring her wisdom and beauty.

Do you share your practice with others or do this as a solitary practice?

I love communal altars! I’ve led many moon ceremonies and women’s groups, where I would think of a theme and ask everyone to bring an object that is relevant to the theme.

I would then ask everyone to go around and share what that object means to them. The object would get passed around in circle, as the object-bringer shares their connection with it.

We all carry so much wisdom within us, and through communal altars, we get a taste of each other’s magick. I love seeing how creative people get—people have brought crystals, flowers, books, jewelry, souvenirs, toys, photographs, and more.

Diana with a group altar created with workshop participants.

What has been an unexpected delight in altar building?

I think when people hear the world “altar” they often either imagine something fancy in a Christian church or something super witchy and mysterious.

I am unexpectedly delighted by the accessibility of altar-building. Anyone can build an altar, regardless of their background and religious/spiritual beliefs. You don’t need to follow a set of rules. All you have to do is build it with intention. The altar is sacred because of the meaning you infuse into it. I find that deeply empowering.

How frequently do you build altars?  

I have a main altar that I re-build every season. I typically build an additional altar at the start of each week, sometimes adding on to it depending on what’s going on astrologically.

This process encourages me to slow down and marinate over how I’d like to direct my energy every week, so I can be more intentional with myself and others.

What beliefs or ideas influence your altar building?

I’ve found through my personal experience and through leading groups, that it’s empowering to create a consistent ritual of connecting with objects and imbuing them with meaning and significance.

The pieces on our altar serve as tangible reminders of our intentions, dreams, and visions. I believe these objects can take any form, and that an altar doesn’t have to look a certain way.

I believe my altar represents pieces of my heart, and how I wish to lead and make informed choices that will help to protect our earth and elevate the collective consciousness.

I also believe altar-making is incredibly fun, and a total art form! As an Aquarius, I love having the freedom to spread my wings, pivot, and change directions in my altar and in my life.

Can you share an outcome or two from using Altars in your life?

As an empath, I am sensitive to people’s energies. You can imagine this gets amplified in my work as a healer. I build altars before I lead a gathering or a training.

I create a protective container around our time together and call in kind-hearted souls who are ready to show up for their healing. This has helped me SO much! It’s helped me meet people with similar values and integrity, and create a community that feels supportive and nourishing.

What items tend to show up repeatedly when selecting what you will place on your altar? (A specific photo or animal guide?  A cross or goddess statue? Tarot card?)  Do you have a reason or guided approach for your selection process?

A few pieces of the earth from my spiritual pilgrimages. A turkey feather I was gifted in ceremony. Statues of Ganesha, Shiva, and Quan Yin. Amethyst and selenite. Books of poetry (John O’Donohue or Rumi) or spiritual prayers (Pixie Lighthorse or Pema Chodron).

I like to meditate before building a new altar. I ask my guides for their support while I intuitively select pieces to bring together. I surrender and allow myself to co-create with Spirit.

One of Diana’s altars utilizing tarot cards.

Do you listen to music to help prepare you when you plan out an altar or while you are building?  If so, can you share some favorites?

My music choices often include East Forest, Beautiful Chorus, Krishna Das, and gospel R&B like The Supreme Jubilees. 

Where was the most unlikely or unusual location that you have placed an altar? 

I like creating mini altars by accident. For example, I was drinking coffee and placed my cup down onto the ground. When I looked down, I saw a leaf and twig situate itself nearby. I rearranged the pieces and took a moment to take them in together.

The surprise mini altar

Do you follow the seasons or another system/set of holidays/moon cycles that impacts when and the type of altars you build?

I like to follow the seasons, and honor the new and full moon (alongside special astrological events) cycles. I love working with the cycles of the earth and the stars because I feel like I’m co-creating with the Universe.

It gives me some understanding of what’s happening energetically across the collective, so I can tune into how I can be of service to others.

What is your favorite part of building or using altars in your life – personal/work both?

Activating my intuition. Many of us have inherited and learned beliefs that are damaging to our growth and evolution. I know I’m not the only human who doubts herself—in fact, it’s common in everyone.

My favorite part of building altars is reconnecting to this inner spark inside of me that operates from a place of love, rather than fear. I use my intuition to bring pieces together to tell a story, and represent a vision.

How or does your culture show up in your altar building?

I am a Russian immigrant, born in Moscow. My family is Russian Orthodox, which is similar to Christianity.

It’s common to have saints represented on wooden icons, and to pray to these icons. While I consider myself spiritual rather than religious, I have an icon of the Mother Mary with baby Jesus that I got with my family in Greece when I was a child. There’s this tender vibration to this piece that soothes me, and she’s a regular fixture on my altar.

Diana’s altar with the lovely Greek icon art piece with Mother Mary and baby Jesus.

What difference do you notice on your physical body when you treat it as an altar with sacred adornment?  Do you experience an emotional shift when you put on certain clothing for ceremony? 

I love this question! I’m a Libra rising, so I enjoy cultivating beauty in my everyday life.

Dressing myself is a daily opportunity to celebrate my human vessel. I tend to my physical body with clothing and jewelry that feels sensual, witchy, and empowering.

All of my pieces are thoughtfully selected and feel good against my skin. My spirit animal is a lioness and I connect with her potent energy when I put on sacred clothing for ceremony.

What has been the biggest shift for you since building or using altars in your life?

Building and tending to altars keeps me in tune with the rhythm of the Universe. We can get so swept away by our ego’s concerns, that we forget to be present in our lives.

Altars remind me to slow down, be mindful in my choices and actions, and give thanks as much as possible.

A lovely birds eye view of Diana’s home altar.

Ok Diana, let’s look into the ways you integrate all your teachings which include sound healing, Reiki, Yoga, breathwork, tarot and more!

You have studied a lovely diverse number of training styles in Yoga – Is there a specific style you find yourself being drawn to at this stage in your life more than others?  What are newer students coming to you wanting to learn?   How are the online classes meeting their needs – any surprises?

Yoga is so much more than the shapes you make with your body. Yoga reminds us how to listen to the inner wisdom within us, and gives us a stable foundation from which we can release what is no longer in alignment.

I love creating yoga classes that celebrate your strength and teach you how to slow down and breathe into your body. I’m more interested in leading classes that help you feel pleasure in your body, rather than mastering a complicated pose.

Newer students appreciate my classes because I offer modifications and detailed instructions that help you practice safe alignment while slowly learning how to come home to your body.

It’s definitely a different experience to teach yoga classes online instead of in the studio—nothing compares to syncing with people’s breath and feeling the energy in a shared space.

However, transitioning my services online has been an empowering opportunity to connect with more people across the world. What was once limited to the confines of a yoga studio space, now has no limits. Only room to grow and invite more people to experience yoga from the comfort of their homes.

I’m happy to see that people value their communities, and are making the effort to practice together, even if it isn’t in person.

Diana Seva teaches Yoga globally online.

I know you have done breathwork training – is there a simple exercise you could lead us through?

One of my favorite breath work practices is the 5 count breath pattern. This rhythm of breathing syncs your lungs with your heart, and helps deeply relax your body.

At a time when we are taking in so much news and triggering information, our nervous systems get activated. Our responses include fight, flight, or freeze. It can feel debilitating and groundless. Whenever this happens, I invite you to work with the 5 count breathing pattern and watch yourself calm and center back into your body.

Instructions: This pranayama will be done with your lips sealed, breathing only through your nose. Find a comfortable seat, stack the roof of your mouth over your pelvis, and relax your sit bones down into your seat.

Close your eyes. Through your nose, take a slow inhale while counting up to 5. Then hold your breath while relaxing your body into the earth for another 5 breaths. Keep your lips sealed, and slowly exhale to the count of 5 through your nose.

Repeat this for 10 rounds of breath. This is a beautiful self-tending practice to do every day! 

Diana’s exquisite Sound Bath Altar

Living in Los Angeles can be challenging with all the people, buildings, chaotic energy – how do you connect with nature?  How do you support Mama Earth? How do you find Mama Earth supporting you?  On the flip side – do you find yourself gathering energy from living in such a highly populated and diverse region of  the US?

I would like to first pay reverence and respect to the Chumash, Kizh, and Tongva peoples who inhabited the land before it was stolen from them.

Nature is absolutely a non-negotiable for me. My apartment is tucked away on a quiet street, where I wake up to birds chirping. I walk about 5 miles a day, usually in the early morning. I live close to Griffith Park, so I’ve been enjoying a solo hike there 3 or so times a week.

I feel the presence of one of my Spirit Guides when I spend time in nature, and my channel is much clearer when I carve out time to place my feet on the earth, feel the sunshine on my skin, look at the shapes in the sky.

I think part of why we reincarnate is to experience the magnificence of nature. Mama Earth softens my heart. She reminds me that I’m a part of something larger than me. She inspires me to fall in love again and again with my life.

I love living in a  diverse city, though I am mindful about where I go and who I choose to spend my time with. Los Angeles can feel draining, especially since there’s a lot of unprocessed grief in this city that is plastered over with a veneer of false cheeriness.

This can feel heavy to hold when you’re an empath, but it’s taught me to encounter and hold space for many different kinds of people. I learn a lot about people by living in a city, and for that, I’m thankful.

What first drew you to mediumship? Do you have healers in your lineage that shared gifts with you growing up?  How do your ancestors choose to work with you?

My mother had two experiences where she briefly died and then came back to life. The second experience was in giving birth to me. There’s something to that, I think. She’s clairvoyant, so I grew up with her sharing her visions with the family.

It wasn’t until I got attuned to Reiki, that my channel started opening up. I started receiving messages and images from spirit guides and animals, ancestors, and angels while working on my clients during Reiki sessions.

I decided to share what I was downloading and received incredible feedback in return. This inspired me to keep practicing and cultivating my gifts.

I connect to my ancestors through journeying, seated meditation, and freeform writing. I uncovered that I come from a lineage of healers in Tajikistan. They worked with the earth, were gifted with their hands, and had psychic capabilities.

I’m currently in the process of connecting to these old practices, and seeing how I can honor them with my community. I’m here to break generational curses. I’m here to disobey old ways of being and make them proud through my resilience and commitment to my work.

In an upcoming Reiki 1 training program – you are working with a fellow healer – Can you share the power and forms of support you receive by collaborating with others on the healing path?  How has it helped you grow?  

We heal in relationship! We can’t do it alone, and finding people who can be your vision holders and heart tenders makes our human experience much more stable and manageable.

I’m leading the Reiki 1 Healer Training with Lori Fisher. We decided to combine forces because we deeply admire and respect each other, and value living heart-centered lives.

We wanted to give our trainees multiple perspectives and ways of doing things, so they can broaden their understanding and experience with Reiki.

Collaborations teach us about ourselves. It asks us to be magicians and alchemists. To create something out of nothing. To blend different energies into something shared. Collaborations help me feel less alone, more seen and understood, and inspired to work alongside so many thoughtful and loving humans.

Bonus question #1 if you dare: 
Favorite curse word?

No curse word is as satisfying as “Fuck” in my personal opinion.

Bonus question #2 if it applies for you:

What is a favorite sacred tattoo you rock on your bodies altar or favorite piece of jewelry you wear to help create your feeling of sacredness?

All the stick and poke tattoos on my body I’ve received in ceremony. They truly all feel sacred and special to me, so I can’t choose just one! I’ll share my recent talismans with you— done on the backs of my ankles by Talia Migliaccio.

They inspire me to step into my power and protect me.

Bonus question: #3
What would you take your younger self by the shoulders and looking straight in the eyes say to her?

You don’t have to make yourself small to be loved and accepted by others. You don’t have to prove your worth. Your voice is valid. Your feelings are valid. You don’t have to change who you are. Trust yourself.

Finally, how can women find you locally and online? 

You can find Diana on Instagram or her personal business site.

Diana Seva on Instagram

All images within this interview are copyright of Diana Seva.
Enjoy them, let them inspire you, please don’t share them without honoring who created them. Thank you.

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Imagery: Kaia Pieters and Julia Ferguson Andriessen
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