When did you build your first altar? Did you think of it as an ‘altar’ at that time?
I recognize that my first altar was created as a child at home, organizing figurines and collectible items in a specific way on my shelf.
Or the most common way that I construct altars is outside on the land, working with the plants, animals and minerals that find me. I have made so many altars in the beach.
Anywhere that I am, I tend to create some type of offering or formation of found items from nature. As a child I didn’t think of it as “building an altar,” it was playing and creating. It’s been in the last 5-10 years that my altar creation has become an ongoing, intentional ritual, or practice.
Do you share your practice with others or do this as a solitary practice?
I have my personal altars at home, but my children will often add items if they find them, like bees, or rocks. And oftentimes, we will create a family altar to mark a certain day or for a ceremony.
When I taught yoga classes in person, I would often pick herbs and flowers from my garden to create a very simple or more complex altar at the front of the class or as a centerpiece.
I have always enjoyed creating altars in a group or for a group.
How frequently do you build altars?
I have a personal altar that usually shifts at the new moon and full moon, so it’s evolving twice a month. I then have other tiny altars in my home that I change depending on how I feel.
I will also construct something tiny before teaching a yoga class or working with a client to have that grounding support from whichever items come forward to act as allies for the session.
I also build altars outside on the Earth, composed of any dry goods from my pantry that have gone stale, mixed with herbs and flowers from the garden. It is similar to a mandala on the ground and I do consider it an offering of sorts.
What beliefs or ideas influence your altar building?
Initially I just went with what felt good in my altar making, I didn’t even know that I was doing it. Then, when I was given instructions about honoring the 4 directions, and elements, I began to weave in those aspects.
I work with the Mayan Medicine Wheel, even though I am not Mayan by ancestry, because this is what feels right for me at this moment in my life. This wheel honors the element of Fire in the East, Air in the North, Water in the West and Earth for South.
For me it’s very personal and sacred to construct and deconstruct an altar. So, these days I just listen to what wants to be created. I don’t follow strict guidelines, I just follow my heart. It could be as simple as a single Crystal or feather, or it could be more elaborate with live plants, crystals, oracle cards, artifacts and feathers all lined up in sacred geometry.
I’ve learned there isn’t one way, but rather my intention for each experience is the most important ingredient.Marie DiBona Herzog
Can you share an outcome or two from using Altars in your life?
For the longest time I didn’t place water on my altar as an offering. When I did, when I placed that physical representation of my intuition, emotions, the depth of being with the cup of water, I began to deepen my relationship with these aspects of myself. My relationship to myself changed, it has become more intimate.
When I build my altar I feel like I am honoring myself. My altar is a living representation of me and the parts of me that are unseen. Creating an altar allows me to express myself from the deep spaces within. It’s TRUELY a practice of honoring for me. Honoring myself and my ancestors, the Earth and all of her aspects.
A relatively new practice that I’ve acknowledged is my own body as a living alter. We are composed of all the elements and we are representatives of the Earth. This is a practice that doesn’t involve any physical items besides myself, it lets me take ownership of my devotion, instead of relying on something outside me.
I enjoy BOTH a physical altar and my altar body.
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?
I always have some crystals, often owl and hawk feathers. I have at least one Jaguar representation as I do work with the energy of the Mayan Goddess of the Moon, rainbows, fertility, midwifery, pregnancy, and earth medicine. Ixchel is her name and Jaguar is her guardian.
I will often place one or a few Tarot cards if I feel called.
My selection process is organic and intuitively guided. I do tend to stay aligned with the New and Full Moon, and I will also follow the Mayan Lunar calendar for certain days that are meaningful for me.
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?
I don’t listen to music usually while I’m preparing the altar, but here are some favorites from other times that I listen to music.
Do you follow the seasons or another system/set of holidays/moon cycles that impacts when and the type of altars you build?
I do follow the seasons in building solstice and equinox altars.
I also listen to my altar, sometimes she wants to stay in a specific formation for a longer period of time, so I really allow for a back and forth between us, a pulse, a relationship.
This is a newer way of working for me, moving more deeply from the heart instead of always from the head.
What is your favorite part of building or using altars in your life – personal/work both?
My favorite part of building altars in my life and work is that it’s fun, it’s a behavior that allows me to express my creativity in an intuitive way.
I like interacting with the crystals, plants and others items, holding them in my hands, aligning them. It’s a very soothing practice for my nervous system.
How or does your culture show up in your altar building?
For now, I don’t have any specific items on my altar that represent my cultural background besides the plant, animal, and mineral items that I put down.
My lineage is from many countries, so I mainly acknowledge the Earth based practices of all of my ancestors.
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 do notice an energetic shift in my physical body when I treat it as sacred in the ways I adorn my body with clothing and sacred jewelry or other adornment. I do feel a little extra special inside when I make an effort to decorate my body with beautiful textiles and jewelry.
On the daily, I also like to adorn myself with nourishment, it’s very important to me. I am really disciplined in caring for my body, but some days I still forget to eat or drink enough. Nourishment in the form of ample sleep and rest, time outside in fresh air and on Earth, connection with other humans, daily prayer, delicious foods, and ample water are my non-negotiables.
Everyday is an opportunity to experience the ceremony of being alive.
What has been the biggest shift for you since building or using altars in your life?
I have noticed that creating altars in my life has created a bridge between the stars and the Earth. Altars have been a way to anchor prayer, intention, vision, medicine, intelligence, wisdom and balance into the day to day for me.
After this interview I’m excited to really pay attention to how they support me moving forward with an even more acute awareness.
Marie – I am all about harmony and sacred living – I am excited to learn more about how you are helping others find their way…
Where does the name of your business comes from?…
Hi End Hippie comes from honoring the idea that harmony already exists. It’s just a matter of remembering this and trusting our body as the vehicle to experience our life, which I believe to be sacred. Hi End refers to “high frequency” or “high vibration,” aligning with your “higher self,” the part of you that carries deep wisdom and knowing beyond all shape or form. Hippie is a vibration, a mindset, a lifestyle, a movement, encompassing a life lived consciously with peace, love and harmony as core values.
I’ve been blessed to experience your generous and kind heart. Do you feel yoga has played a part in shifting how you interact with others?
Yoga was a pathway for me to learn that I had a voice, to deeply dive into a philosophy and practice the embodiment of the principles.
I have always been able to connect deeply with people and yoga provides another lense with which to connect on an energetic level.
Teaching yoga has definitely given me more confidence since I started teaching in 2007.
You offer a wide variety of Yoga teachings – Is there a favorite you have when working with women? Being trauma-informed when working in the Yoga profession seems to be very important these days. How do you approach that in your classes? Maybe you can dive deeper in the current yoga classes you offer.
It has become essential for my own personal yoga practice to nurture my nervous system, so this has become a highlight in my classes as well. I really enjoy teaching Restorative and Therapeutic yoga classes which invite the student to receive a deeply relaxing sequence that stimulates the “rest & digest” response, the parasympathetic nervous system turns on and deep healing can occur in the body and mind.
And while I have not taken specific training to teach trauma informed yoga, my own life experience with healing from my own childhood traumas has provided me with ample information, tools, and understanding in regards to being sensitive as a teacher. My own life prepared me to teach in a more conscious and attentive way.
You have shared with me that you live in California and Hawaii – are you still splitting your time between those states? If so, what is it about the two of them that nurture your healing practice and business?
When we met (July 2019) I did just spend the month in Maui, and my intention was to spend more time there, but I have been in California as a home base for the last year.
Maui is a very special place for me. When I was 4 years old I traveled there with my parents and it left a profound energetic impression on me. I have been fortunate to return to the land in order to nurture my connection.
And the name Hi End Hippie has ties to Maui as well, that’s where the name was first spoken when my husband said to me one afternoon, “You are like a Hi-End Hippie!”
The New and Full Moon meditation program sounds super interesting – are these one on one or group sessions? Also, you state the session will explore the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Ether – I’ve not dived into Ether before – can you expand on that one and how working with the elements has supported you?
This is a group class experience live on Zoom. But it could also be a one on one experience. I like to tap into the energy of the day and weave together a practice of movement, breath work and sound healing with crystal bowls. It’s a hybrid experience that I’ve been creating that combines all of my wisdom from yoga, shamanic healing, Bhakti yoga, dance, Earth Medicine, study of the elements, all into one.
As for Ether, it’s the element that’s always present everywhere, it just refers to Space. It’s the aspect that isn’t really spoken of because it’s just there. And according to Oxfords dictionary, ether is “the clear sky; the upper regions of air beyond the clouds.”
For me, working with the elements has been immensely powerful in grounding myself in the here and now. Just like altar building.
I know you do sound healing, specific offerings around prenatal support, yoga with your kids (a fav of mine) and have a beautiful retreat in Tulum, Mexico coming up next year in April, 2022? Are there other things in the works? A project here you would like to expand on? Tell us what is driving you to help other women these days?
Yes! So many actually, in different realms of my life. And yes, they are devoted to supporting women.
I just completed a Yoni Steam course certification, to offer consultations to women who want to try vaginal steaming as a way to support their womb well being. As long as steaming is not contraindicated, it can be a gentle way to tend to common symptoms that women experience at any phase of womanhood.
I’ve also been experimenting with botanical dyes, I’ve been wanting to dive into that for the last year, so I’ve been collecting all of the supplies and slowly experimenting.
And lastly, one of my intentions in having Hi-End Hippie as a platform is to build an online library of pre-recorded class content. That way, you can choose which class style is best for you at anytime. You don’t have to wait for an in person event or retreat to experience my offerings. You can purchase classes one at a time, or a series of classes. I have currently been working on a Prenatal and Postpartum program. And for everyone else, I have many classes planned to record in 2022.
Bonus question #1 if you dare: Favorite curse word?
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?
I have a moon phase tattoo that’s matching with my sister and I have a Jaguar ? on my arm, that way I always have my allies with me.
Bonus question if you dare: #3
What would you take your younger self by the shoulders and looking straight in the eyes say to her?
Listen to that voice inside of you that whispers, listen to the voice that doesn’t make sense but knows the truth, Listen to your inner voice and follow the guidance being given to you.
Finally, how can women find you locally and online?
I can be found online at www.hiendhippie.com
and on Instagram @hi.endhippie
All images within this interview are copyright of Marie DiBona Herzog.
Enjoy them, let them inspire you, please don’t share them without honoring who created them. Thank you.