Wallet Shrines

I’ve gotten all interested in the concept of pocket shrines, a Catholic tradition. They typically have an image of a saint (whether paper or a plaque), a prayer, and maybe some additional symbols. Some are wallet-style, while others are made from small tins or matchboxes, and some are other kinds of small objects.

It’s apparently popular now to make non-religious pocket shrines, in which case I don’t know why you’d still call them shrines, but hey, I found this tutorial, and decided I could afford to drop a little money on felt and embroidery floss, and I’ve got lots of beads, and it’d give me another devotional craft project to do while sitting around, and what the hell.

I’m still fiddling with the best way to do these, but it’s fun, and it keeps me occupied. My embroidery skills are and always have been crappy, I’m afraid, but it’s something I’m putting time and effort and care into, and I’m satisfied with that, and think my gods are, too.

I started, of course, with a shrine to Hekate. Here’s the inside:

I decided to go with symbols, so those are supposed to be torches on the left, and the key charms on the right. In the middle is a frame into which I will eventually tuck either a prayer or an image. Kind of depends on what I can find and get printed in the right size. And I don’t have a printer right now. It’ll be blank for a while.

The outside:

The strophalos, or wheel symbol, associated with Hekate in the Chaldean Oracles, plus, very badly embroidered, Hekate’s name in Greek.

The wallet, folded and buttoned up:

Yes, it’s intentional that her name is on the front and the wheel on the back. Yay, that worked!

Each section has an old business card tucked between in the inside and outside felt layer to stiffen it. The trifold design came out much thicker than I realized it would, with all those layers or felt and cardboard, but I like the way they come out. Threes work for me. They aren’t so much something to tuck into my pockets, but that’s what purses, bags, and backpacks are for, to carry all the things that don’t fit in your pockets. They’ll be good for traveling.

I’m already working on a series of wallets for the Women of the Purple Thread, on for each. I haven’t been able to afford the things I need for individual wall shrines for them all, but I can afford to make them each a wallet shine, keep them all in one wall cabinet for easy storage, and take out the appropriate one for each day’s devotional. So they’ll be good for that, too.

I’m almost done with Erigone’s. The two sides just need to be sewn together and the button added. Here’s what it looks like now:

The grey outside is stitched with the devotional purple thread, both with just a meandering thread (which is intended to carry across all of the wallets) and with her name in Greek. The inside has a hanging doll, a reference to the Aiora ritual that was part of or around Anthesteria, in which young girls hung ribbons, cups, and dolls representing Erigone from trees, and then were pushed on rope swings. Erigone hanged herself from a tree in her grief over her father’s death. On the right, of course, is a grapevine. Erigone’s father Ikarios was the first mortal Dionysos taught viticulture to, the first to grow the vine and make wine. When he gave the finished wine to his townsmen to drink, they, not knowing yet to mix water with their wine, drank too much and passed out. Their families, finding them, thought that Ikarios had poisoned them, and they killed him before their relatives awoke with hangovers. And in some versions of the story, Dionysos loved Erigone, and after her death set her in the stars as the constellation Virgo, her father as Bootes, and their faithful dog (who drowned herself in a well) as Canis Minor.

Expect more of these to come.