When did you build your first altar? Did you think of it as an ‘altar’ at that time?
I built my first physical altar in college. At that point I had already started my practice and the freedom of my own space in my college dorm was like a new opportunity to express what I felt to be my true nature.
I thought about looking up some examples, but in the end, I did it intuitively. The altar was for a mouse that had been killed in our apartment. I killed it and immediately felt and thought “What have I done?”
I wanted to honor it’s life and the lesson I learned at its expense. I remember drawing a picture, lighting candles and incense and leaving food offerings for it. I knew it was an altar, and I intentionally set it up that way.
Do you share your practice with others or do this as a solitary practice?
My altars are very personal, for me it’s a solitary practice.
Oftentimes, my altars are put together intuitively in the middle of the night after a dream about it. I know that people have permanent altars and I guess in a way I have them too, but I’ve recently been focusing on ways to become a living, breathing, walking altar.
I didn’t grow up in a family that had altars for religious reasons, but I had extended family who were Hindu and I always loved sharing those experiences with them.
What beliefs or ideas influence your altar building?
In high school I learned about ephemeral art and I fell in love with the beauty of the transient nature of this world. I would draw my inspiration from nature and whatever I observed in the natural world.
I believe that the altar should also mirror this. Set up for a season then taken down after that time has passed. For that reason, many of my altars are created outside of my home and made using things that the birds and deer and insects can use in their daily lives.
In terms of more permanent altars, I feel that my body is the altar. After all, it is already made up of all the elements and it is connected to me as well as my ancestors, guides and the beings I work with.
If I need to make an external altar, I keep my tools in a box and I assemble it as needed. I feel like this works for me since I live in a very small house. I think that it is fundamental that the altar matches what the practitioner has to work with. If I had more space I would have bigger, more elaborate altars.
Can you share an outcome or two from using Altars in your life?
Using altars has helped me focus on the relationship between myself and the spirits that live in all things.
I vividly remember setting up an ancestral altar in my yard with fruits from my country and sitting back to meditate on my gratitude and just spend time with myself. When I opened my eyes from meditating, there were all kinds of little bees and grasshoppers and the cats joined me.
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?
The items I use for my altars are usually things that I have collected from nature. I don’t specifically include any items linking to deities because I don’t practice that way.
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?
When building my altars, I prefer to work in silence. I sing sometimes, but again it’s usually intuitive and I usually do that after the altar is complete to activate it.
Giya Venus – do you find yourself building altars or sacred spaces in your yard in Tennessee? Does working within nature feel different than inside a building for you?
Working with nature is the best!
I love getting outside and choosing a tree or a patch of land to build my altars. Building altars inside isn’t something I am particularly fond of. I feel like the offerings are for nature, so outside is the best place to set them up.
Do you follow the seasons or another system/set of holidays/moon cycles that impacts when and the type of altars you build?
I don’t follow a particular system to influence my altars outside of moon phases. I used to be obsessed with doing things on the right day at the right times, but I don’t anymore. It feels too forced when I do it that way.
How or does your culture show up in your altar building? Are there ways you want to bring more of your culture into it?
I like to bring my culture into my altar building by using my jewelry as part of the altar. In my culture gold jewelry is a symbol of good luck and the land, so it felt right to place my rings in the offering dish while I complete the set up and meditate there.
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?
My body is my primary altar and I feel so calm and grounded whenever I treat it that way. I choose to wear specific pieces of jewelry: rings and bracelets, and I wrap my hair up in scarves to protect and focus my energy even more during ritual.
What has been the biggest shift for you since building or using altars in your life?
Whenever I take the time to build an altar, I’m filled with a very peaceful and grounded sense of purpose. I feel like they have helped me focus on what I need and want from the universe.
Giya Venus – Your Healing Arts business encompasses so many diverse offerings I’m excited to learn more…
You offer a variety of support services such as Akashic record/Tarot/Oracle readings, Shamanic Energy Healing, and Therapeutic Coaching – what services do you find your clients seeking the most these days? It feels like these offerings build well upon each other – do you like to combine them or do you find your coaching approach doesn’t overlap with say an Oracle card reading added on.
My clients have in the past two years sought out Akashic Reading and Soul Retrieval the most. Tarot and Oracle Reading are great tools, but people have been craving more in depth connections and healings.
I’m moving into a place of weaving them together because yes, they do fit each other very well. Being a shaman is very much like being a therapist, and I really enjoy using the tools at my disposal to empower my clients to heal themselves as well.
Giya Venus, The Deep End is your wonderfully supportive and informative podcast. Any casts with your guests that have surprised or moved you in a way you weren’t expecting? Whose podcasts are you listening to these days?
I used to binge podcasts in the past, but I haven’t been listening to many of them these days, most of the ones I have been listening to are about birth stories. They’re so uplifting and inspiring.
All of the people I have on the show move me in some profound way during our conversations. I love to listen to others talk about their work and their transformational journeys to becoming the person they are at this point.
In a way birth stories are another form of this transformation into someone else. It never ceases to amaze me when I record with someone and then post the episode and get feedback from listeners that the message of the episode is exactly what they needed to hear.
Giya you talk about the 6 types of self-care on your YouTube channel – which is one you find yourself focusing more on right now personally?
Right now, I’m focusing on physical self care.
My partner and I started Haus of Serpent Fire because we saw the need to provide people with products that support them physically. I feel that all of the types of self care need to be balanced with each other and that happens when we are sensitive to our needs in each area.
Physical self care is the most basic and fundamental one because when our bodies feel good, we are able to properly attend to the other types of self care.
Haus of Serpent Fire is the name of your organic self-care products business. The names are delicious! What drew you to making body products like Pumpkin Persimmon Whipped Body Butter or Moon or Sun Dragon Face and Body oils? And where do you find the time???
I ask myself the same question. Thank you. The real goal behind Haus of Serpent Fire is to help people understand that what they put on and in their bodies should be as high quality and pure as possible. That’s why all of our products are formulated with all organic and non-GMO ingredients and we avoid the use of fillers, synthetic dyes and fragrances.
I know that the appeal of more conventional products on the market is mostly aesthetic, but our business is in showing people that all of these things can be done using an organic, non-GMO approach.
The names are inspired by dreams and symbolism, the dragon, and our love of nature. We make everything in small batches because our lab is home based.
Our lab and the formulation process is like building an altar in and of itself, with the products. They’re altars in a bottle because everything has so much care and intention put into it for the purpose of elevating our connection to our physical bodies.
Giya Venus is offering a 10% discount off a purchase of $40 US for our readers! Use code ALTARIST. Please note this is a one use per email address and doesn’t expire so if you are reading this interview later than when it is originally posted it will still apply. I hope you will take advantage of this generous offering.
Giya Venus how has becoming a Wellness Practitioner impacted your life thus far?
The phrase “healer heal yourself” rings true here.
Whether it is making products in our lab or drumming and singing, all of this inspires me to care for myself.
I thought being a wellness practitioner meant living according to an aesthetic which made me resistant to calling myself that, but it really is a lifelong commitment to helping myself and others remember how to live the fully present lives they deserve to have.
Inner Child Shaman – Yes, Please! How did you come to Shamanism?
I grew up in a very religious household and those teachings didn’t really make sense to me.
I struggled with identifying and aligning with a system because I thought I had to have one. Being a shaman for me means being curious about these things and exploring all the facets of being human and spirit.
Again I resisted this title because it was a rebellious response to the idea that I saw of shamans being, acting and looking a certain way, or people treating them like gods or aliens or both, but it continues to be an experience of me finding myself in all the things I seek out and that seek me out.
I wouldn’t have the intuitive vision to create things for Haus of Serpent Fire if I didn’t know how to interpret dreams or go on journeys for answers to my questions.
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?
My Eye of Ra tattoo is a protective piece I got as a present for myself. I also love to wear these two rings on each thumb: one with a sun symbol the other with a moon and star symbol. The sun ring was a gift made using pieces of my baby earrings and the moon ring was a gift from my partner to celebrate our love. They help me feel safe and loved.
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?
I always tell my younger self “You are powerful, safe, loved and necessary.” These are the things I needed to hear back then but didn’t, and so I time travel back to those moments to tell them to her myself.
Finally, how can women find you locally and online?
The best way to get in touch with me is through Instagram. It’s the platform I use most often and it’s where people can book sessions and find my Haus of Serpent Fire website.
Locally, I am in the Northeastern part of Tennessee outside of Knoxville and am accessible to people in Atlanta, GA as well as Asheville, NC.