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Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 37 - 4/16/2001
What's On Your Altar?
What is on your altar, disir stone, hearth or horg? What tools do you have and which ones-be honest!- do you actually USE? Does your altar/stone/hearth/horg change with the seasons or is it a permanent set-up? Is your altar/stone/hearth/ horg a meeting place or honoring place for the Old Ones/Ancestors/Gods/Goddesses or is it a place to work magick-or both? What does the altar, stone, hearth/horg mean or represent to YOU?
| Reponses: There are 45 responses posted to this question.
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| Right Now, There Are 2 Candles, One Gold, One Silver, And A... ||Apr 16th. at 3:47:10 pm EDT|
|Adaryn (San Giovanni, Italy) ||Age: 22 - Email |
Right now, there are 2 candles, one gold, one silver, and a 9" statue of Venus on a half-shell, plus a white altar cloth. This is because my altar is in the middle of my office area (half of my living room is living space, half is office b/c i can't stand a living room that's too big) and I have 2 toddlers who can't leave it alone. During rituals, I have 2 seasonal candles, a bell, a wand or an athame, a chalice, an incense burner, and 2 pentacles. The altar itself is a side table that we kept when we got new furnature for this very purpose. The girls cannot resist climbing on it, lying under it, or dancing around it so I have to make sure that ritual items that will get broken are removed directly after use. I also use wooden incense burners and iron candleholders to prevent curious fingers from shattering them.
| My Altar Is A Place Of Function And Focus. I Have A... ||Apr 16th. at 4:20:22 pm EDT|
|Heather Welty (Boulder, Colorado US) ||Age: 30 - Email |
My altar is a place of function and focus. I have a set of beautiful candleholders representing the Lord and Lady that I keep filled with a gold and silver candle respectively. I keep my chalice, athame, and wand there and use them all regularly. I change the cloths and clean as every Sabbat nears to reflect seasonal colors and themes. I feel that having an altar in a central, highly visible place in my home is a way of reminding myself of my eternal connection to the Divine and Nature.
| My Altar Is Probably The Only Thing In My House That Isn't... ||Apr 16th. at 5:05:53 pm EDT|
|ƒowyn Forestchilde (Western, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 28 - Email |
My altar is probably the only thing in my house that isn't tossed hither and yon when I get into my rearranging fits :) It is the wickedest hodge-podge of things - all of which have a special memory and were presented with love.
Despite my homebody nature, I have a warrior spirit. My altar represents that with abundance. The only place that I don't have a weapon of some sort is with my Goddess representation
The altar is facing East. Behind it is a pair of faerie wings that I got for a New YearÕs celebration. There I met my first girlfriend and started a new exploration of myself. At East proper are my 2 athames (one for full moon and one for dark moon), my wand and my incense burner. A piece of Ritual Tobacco that was given to me by a Shaman friend sits on my incense burner.
At South, I have my Fire Candle in a red votive holder, my bolline, a volcanic rock, and a candleholder of Brighid. Oh, yes, and my Sword. A small image of Dragon adorns the wall nearby.
At West, I have my cauldron in which I have a blue votive holder that stays filled with holy water. I have a dagger, a conch shell, a clamshell and half of a small blue shell that was given to me by the daughter of a dear friend. This is the front of my altar and I have a fountain on the floor in front of it.
At Southwest, I have a chalice dedicated to Dragon.
At North, I have my staff, a soapstone jewelry box in the shape of a turtle that I use to hold salt that is in a green votive holder. I have a polished Amatrine point and a rough piece that was dug out of the ground by my parents on a mining trip. I have a replica of an old knife (it is made of wood) that I picked up in Canada.
At Southeast, I have my crystal ball.
At the Goddess corner, I have my chalice (a lovely green one with a Venus of Willendorf on it), my silver candle, a Goddess candle and a mask that was made for me when I called the Lady at our first Pagan Pride day event :)
At the God corner, I have my gold candle, my statue of Herne and a stag-headed letter opener.
In the Center are postcard representations of paintings by Ann-Marie Eastburn --- one of women as the 4 quarters and one of Pan with Nymphs. There is a statue of Bast, of Turtle and of Bear.
The whole thing sits on a table that once was part of a kitchenette set. A green tablecloth covers the table and the assortment of stuff (and I use this term loosely) that is underneath my altar. "Stuff" includes Tarot cards, candles, incense, herbs, resins, oils, glitter, felt, beads and the other various and sundry things that I absolutely have to hang onto for ever and ever just in case I might need for a spell someday.
This is the heart of my home. It is in the center of the house right across from the front door. It welcomes guests into my home and protects it from intruders. It is my Honor to the Old Ways and the Gods that dwell there. It is also my working space. The whole room is dominated by this unobtrusive piece of furniture and it permeates throughout the space. Despite that, I surprisingly use very few of the tools at my disposal. It is an apex and sacred place more than a tool crib.
| My Altar Is Jokingly Called By My Friends, My Altar In A... ||Apr 16th. at 5:33:56 pm EDT|
|Bridget Blackwater (Santa Barbara, California US) ||Age: 22 |
My altar is jokingly called by my friends, my altar in a box. It fits exactly into a plastic shoebox (consecrated of course!). I do ritual outside for the most part, and because I am still "in the closet" to my family, I cannot set up a permanent altar in any recognizable form. My altar setup is fairly standard. 5 candles for the airts (with spirit in the center), two chalices (one for wine, the other for salt water), incense, a bowl or plate for holding cakes, and sometimes something representing my totem anima, plus any herbs/spices to be burnt or used. In my home, I keep my rosary, pentacle and tarot cards at hand, near to where I sleep, and my herbs in jars decorating the top of my bookcase. This is me is my permanent altar, but no one would recognize it as such. For me, as I am both Catholic and Dianic, the altar is a place of worship, sacrifice, where we do all things sacred. The Profane, as one of my Religious Studies profs put it, does not belong there and when brought will be banished by the working.
My two cents....
| I Found My Altar At A Flea Market During Grad School, And... ||Apr 16th. at 5:50:21 pm EDT|
|Alumenios (Danvers, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 26 - Email |
I found my altar at a flea market during grad school, and repaired and cleansed it. It is 48" tall, a chest of drawers on the left, open shelves on the right, covered by 4 inch deep swinging louvres. I'm still in the process of painting and embossing it- I can't decide which design I want to do! The top is 30" wide and 18" deep. I'm eventually planning on setting a brass or silver pentacle into it, but I haven't found the time for it(or a 15" pentacle, if you know where I can find one, please let me know).
On top, I use 4 mineral pyramids (smoky quartz, amethyst, sodalite and jasper) set in a diamond in correspondence with the compass. These are around and touch an octagonal mirror; on top of that is a really cool lacquered brass stand holding a 3 inch optical quartz sphere (still trying to recreate a hermetic battery :) I keep my ritual jewelry in a small brass case embossed with a yin-yang in the center stand.
Around the edges I use 2 tea candles in shallow brass dishes for illumination, and 2 plain brass candlesticks for fe/male aspects. I change colors according to the upcoming sabbat. A brass dancing Shiva sits at the rear, just in front of my sword stand. Scattered around the top are various stones, an abalone shell my mother painted for me, and a bottle of bituminous coal (kept away from the candles).
On top of the side louvres, I keep my incense holder and a single chime. My athame, wand, book and flute occupy one shelf, and various cloths, candles and stuff that needs to sync up stay on the other. Inside one louvre there are shelves that keep jewelry boxes, feathers, and other small items. In the other louvre there are hooks to hang my chains, pendants and medicine pouch. The drawers contain various herbs, stones, icons, etc. I keep my drum on top of my meditation mat, folded in front of the closed altar when it's not in use.
The altar is a focus for me. I use it for all things magickal in my life. It has become the only piece of furniture I take with me everywhere (working in theatre I tend to move a lot) and has become the signifier of home to me.
The tools I use the most are my drum and athame. I tend not to mess with my altartop much so as to keep the energy stable and attuned.
| I Have All The Tools! I Have A Couple Of Incense Burners... ||Apr 16th. at 8:44:57 pm EDT|
|Skyfiredawn (Ottawa, Ontario CA) ||Age: 21 - Email |
I Have All The Tools!
I have a couple of incense burners; oils; a cauldron; dozens (ok hundreds) of candles in just about every colour possible; candle holders; bottles; offering bowls; a small broom; chalices; athames; and just about any other thing a Witch could possibly think she needs. The funny part is most of the stuff has NEVER been used. The stuff I do use fits nicely onto the little table that doubles as my altar or into my little bag that I take while performing ritual outdoors.
The tools I do use are my athame (a beautiful letter opener), cauldron; four candles if I'm indoors and sometimes my tarot deck. That's it! Out of all that stuff (not to mention the jewelry, but that's another topic) I only use these few things.
When I bought all this stuff I had just been dedicated. I was reading every book I could get my hands on and most of them listed the "Tools That Every Witch Should Own". Well I wanted to be a Witch so I thought I should own them all, especially since any one of them could be the one that would give me the confidence that other Witches seemed to have but which I lacked.
On the meager budget of a student I went out and purchased everything I could get my hands on. But instead of inspiring me with confidence I found that instead of enjoying rituals I was too concerned about what went where, and it's proper uses to be at all enjoying myself. So I did some more reading, a lot more thinking and came up with the perfect plan: I scrapped it! All of it! I packed every single tool in the special storage container I had bought for it all, put it away and forgot about it.
This didn't mean I stopped doing rituals. Instead I came up with ways to do them with no tools, no alter just me and the Goddess. I did rituals outdoors, in the astral, sitting on my bed. Most of the time, I just sat and talked to the gods like I was talking to an old friend. And then I gained the confidence I sought, not through tools, not even from lack of them but from simply spending time with the gods and discovering what I believed.
It wasn't long before I got out that special box with all my tools. But this time instead using them all, I took out just a few. Only those that I thought would help me focus my energy, and that I wanted to use. I decided I needed to write my own chapter on "Tools Every Witch Should Own", it was a very short chapter. I consisted of only one sentence: "The tools that no Witch should ever be without are those she believes she needs."
I still get out that box every once in awhile. I sometimes use more tools on Sabbats, or other special occasions. Other times I again put everything away on these special days and use the time to finish old conversations and start new ones. Old friends need to catch up every once in awhile.
| When I Was Catholic, I Was An Altar-boy; So, As A Witch... ||Apr 17th. at 12:46:12 am EDT|
|John (New Naumkeag) ||Age: 33 - Email |
When I was Catholic, I was an altar-boy; so, as a Witch, I'm not much "into" altars now... :-)
More seriously, my altar is my mind.
An altar for me is a place for conducting worship, prayer, magic, etc. And (with my Catholic background), people who performed religious functions at altars were priests. Well, while studying the Craft, I kept coming across the idea that Witches are, among other things, priests and priestesses. And I thought, "of what? What are they (Witches) sacrificing, oblating, mediating, etc. as priests and priestesses?"
I concluded that, as far as being a priest or priestess goes, Witches mediate Essence into Form and Form into Form and Form into Essence, through the interconnectedness of All. And they do so by realizing that interconnectedness of All within themselves, then by 'realizing' the need, and then by realizing the fulfillment of that need. Connecting all that (the need, the solution and me doing all that connecting) is, to me, the Craft of magic and the basis of the Threefold Rule and ... the act of priesthood which calls for an altar, of the mind.
As for tools: I primarily use concepts, beliefs, etc. Altering consciousness is often useful, usually through meditation or dance. Occasionally (but hardly at all anymore), I craft magic with herbs, athame, etc ... the "normal" tools. Mostly, I craft it with my mind and, perhaps, with what Nature provides me at that moment in that place (a leaf, a stone, etc.).
Moreover, I also view the work at an altar as being of sacrifice. Typically (and imperfectly), I find the altar for this work to be my heart and the sacrifice is petty ego and the setting is in dealing with other people, seeing the Divine equally present in others as in myself. Chiefly, this means (for me) realizing that dealing lovingly with other people is not distraction from my work; it **is** my work (and all else is so often mere straw of setting and circumstance). Again, my altar for that work is my heart. And an untidy, poorly tended altar it is (sigh), but I try to make it better.
The veil is an illusion, as well as a reality. The Craft of the Wise is the realization of Truth. Therein is altar aplenty.
New Naumkeag, U.S.A.
16 April 2001
| On My Altar Resides A Large Collection Of Small Skulls, Some Human... ||Apr 17th. at 1:17:03 am EDT|
|Perrin (Denver, Colorado US) ||Age: 24 |
On my altar resides a large collection of small skulls, some human, most animals that disliked me. Inside two of the skulls rest candles, the other onr has gems that glow in the moonlight. It all fits in a Roman column which I made after a trip to the California redwoods. The top of the pillar has my family crest, when opened from the top, it has my black pentacle. and some supports for the various items. I also keep about forty knives at hand, although I've only needed one lately, at least for worship, the rest I use for carving turkey, and home defense. I also have an old quartz rock once used by an Indian tribe, as a healing stone, which usually resides in the center of the pentacle as a protection, and a represntation of myself (I put a few drops of my own blood on it to increase the range of protection). I also have an Obliesk, which has a red candle coming out of it (oddly enough the las two nights it burned a bright blue, instead of the usuall red glow). The human skulls are mostly ceramic, but there is one I dug up from a grave in Utah.
Incidently I follow the left hand path of paganism, which means that I follow the teachings of the black goat. Also I have found that Wisk gets rid of thosse awful bloodstains, and doees not leave a smelly residue like bleach can.
| My Altar Is More Of A Place To Put Interesting Things Than... ||Apr 17th. at 9:29:03 am EDT|
|Skyecat (Edinburgh, Scotland UK) ||Age: 28 - Email |
My altar is more of a place to put interesting things than a place of worship. A focus, perhaps.
It's two shelves of a melamine bookshelf, and is probably more traditional than my personal interests would indicate. The bottom shelf holds the things that represent the elements for me if I do a formal circle. A stone paperweight with a pictish carving for Earth, an abalone shell for water, a simple clay candleholder decorated in gold leaf for fire, and a mad aladdin style incense lamp for Air. Very theatrical - for when I'm in that kind of mood.
The top shelf holds the one tool I actually use - my athame, a couple of poppets I'm charging, a pair of wooden and very neutral god and goddess figures, and a selection of pretty wands which my mum likes to give me, but which I've never used. I'm a sucker for pretty things. I have a couple of nightlight holders in the shape of cauldrons. The altar's currently decorated with autumn leaves and hazelnuts, because I haven't gotten round to spring cleaning it.
To be honest it's more of a storing area than a working space. The only tool I use is my athame. I have a couple of really pretty ones, but the athame I actually use is an ebony letter opener that cost me 50p at a car boot sale.
Most of the altars here sound very nice - although I think I'll perhaps pass on the skulls!
| I Have A Pentagram (hey Almost Every One Does), Runes, Scrying Mirror... ||Apr 17th. at 11:14:16 am EDT|
|Amanda (Silver Moon Coyote)` (Akron/Norton, , Ohio US) ||Age: 17 - Email |
I have a pentagram (hey almost every one does), Runes, Scrying mirror, pictures of people past and prestent, candles, holders, insence holders, antlers (my boyfriend shot it) rose petals, water, salt, sand, matches (thoose are every where), Stomes, Fossiled rocks, pennys, rings necklaces, Athame, books, Grimore, i use all my tools as much as i can the only thing i really dont like to use on my alter is the 7 knob candles because it makes a mess with all the wax (i try to keep every thing on my alter clean, my mom always said keep the alter clean)some times this is my first altar other than that i really dont knwo if it will change i just came out of the broom closet to my family so i have to see how things will go over.
| My Alter Permenantly Lives Beside My Computer, Where It Serves To Remind... ||Apr 17th. at 1:12:34 pm EDT|
|Dyan (Potter Valley, California US) ||Age: 41 - Email |
My alter permenantly lives beside my computer, where it serves to remind me of my connections to past and present. There is a candleholder in which I place seasonally appropriate candles, a tiny chalice, fresh or dried flowers, and feathers, along with other objects that change occasionally. Right now there are three silver horse figures, each given me by a different friend, a silver and turquoise ring, also a gift, some interesting stones and an arrowhead (gifts to me from the Mother). There is also a small photo of one who has gone on ahead. I use the candles and chalice regularly and also one of stones, though usually my rituals take place out of doors and the alter remains in place. I have other "portable" tools to bring outside. I change some of the objects by the season, or when I feel I need to change my focus.
| For A Long Time, I Had A "full" Altar Set-up In My... ||Apr 17th. at 5:22:17 pm EDT|
|Nelli (Santa Cruz, California US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
For a long time, I had a "full" altar set-up in my bedroom, complete with athame, wand, a plant, two goddess statues and a buddha, various rocks and crystals, shells, a chalice, a bowl of salt, numerous candles and an incense burner. I tried to be assiduous about changing the altar cloth and candles every month (give or take) to match each holy day. But I've moved a couple of times since I last had that sort of altar, and I've adopted a philosophy of simplicity and a liking for open/empty/uncluttered space. This is hard, because I'm also an incorrigible packrat! And I love pretty nicknacks.
Nevertheless, I have a simplified permanent altar in my new house, and it is very pleasing to me because of its relative simlicity - black velvet altar cloth; a pretty houseplant; my goddes statue; a sand dollar (for a pentacle); 2 crystals; 2 colored candles (I still try to change those every holy day); and an incense burner. I sit in front of it every morning and every night to meditate and/or do energy work. When I need to do a full ritual or spell, I drag one of my bedside tables away from the wall into the middle of the room, and set it up with full "regalia" - although i still try to keep it down to the bare minimum of waht I really need to do my work! I am finding that, for me, simpler is both better and more appealing!
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