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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 19,998,072  

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Reponses: 45

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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. Reverse Sort 

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!

My Altar Is Dedicated To The Mothers Of This World And Family... Apr 17th. at 6:05:47 pm EDT

Medusa (seattle, Washington US) Age: 50

My altar is dedicated to the Mothers of this world and family. The altar cloth was made by my son's mother in law for me . I have pictures of my daughter and my father who have passed on and of course a small statue of the Mother Goddess herself, a candle dedicated to Her and a flower offered to Her, and mothers day cards given to me and a bottle of charged water, charged by a Blue Moon.

My Altar Is Actually My Coffie Table. My Coffie Table Is Really... Apr 18th. at 12:31:25 am EDT

Heather (Houston, Texas US) Age: 22 - Email

My altar is actually my coffie table. My coffie table is really a chest with a wolf throw on top of it. I keep all of my ritual items in side the chest and strewn about my living room. When it is ritual time I pull evey thing out of the chest and off the shelves. I have my favorite items, like my altar pentical that I painted. The altar pentical used to be an old tortila bowl. The pentical is painted on the bottom, just incase I ever want to use it as a tortilla bowl. Which goes to show that you can use just about anything for a ritual tool. I don't use the wolf throw for the altar cloth. I have a wonderful dark blue throw that has a celtic design on it. I have two brass candle holders that I use for the god and goddess candles, and a brass censer that I use every time to burn coal. I have several different glasses that I use as chalices, depends on the mood of the ritual. The rest of my tools are used for different rituals and different seasons.

Living In What My Friend Referrs To As 'early American Milkcrate' I... Apr 18th. at 12:23:00 pm EDT

Ivy Dockal (Laramie, Wyoming US) Age: 22 - Email

Living in what my friend referrs to as 'Early American milkcrate' I don't have a nice piece of furniture for my alter. Instead, I'm using my computer box covered in a towel of my favorite color (green). Depending on the season I'll put another prettily colored cloth over it. It's sort of cacaphony of stuff. I have my athame which I discovered in an antique shop, an old schoolhouse bell (discovered along with the athame), a couple of incense burners: cone burner and stick burner, a mini broom I picked up at walmart one day because it begged me to take it home with me. (I'm prone to the suggestions of inanimate objects). I also have two homemade wands...I'm looking for better rods for them. One wand has this beautifully shaped amythest crystal that a friend gave me for solstice. She said it screamed my name and who was she to ignore a shiny object? I have this great long handled anique tea's silver and the handle is twisted. At the top is a polished pice of amythest. (my birth stone). I have a circle of five candles in some pretty crystal holders (the one big purchase of the alter). Those are always lit under close supervision, especially with the towel underneath (which is not near as flammable as the bare box). Knowing that it was so flammable, I placed rocks I had collected at one end of the box to put candles on if i needed to burn something when I couldn't be there to supervise. I also have a lot of other misc things on my alter. It's happily cluttered. My favorite tarot deck, a really nifty candle a friend gave me (which I can't bring myself to burn), various candle holders with different candles and resin in them (if I don't have time to set something up...which happns...I'm a full-time student), a little potion bottle I couldn't resist picking up, a clear bowl filled with water with a spider plant in it, two mini oil lamps filed with green lamp oil (with a small candle between them it looks strikingly similar to the triple moon), a fun shaped oil and vinegar bottle with a glass stopper that insisted it needed a place on my alter, a square spice bottle with a cork stopper (my justification is that if I need a bottle in a hurry they're within easy reach...and if I fill them with pretty sands and resins they'll make a colorful addition, a pewter necklace with a faerie hologram, a jar of raven's blood ink and a jar of dragon's blood ink, a small rock from the north shore with a picture of one of my muses taped onto it, another north shore rock that's smooth and flat with a single opalescent agate in the center, and a small plush doll of Maleficent form the Disney Sleeping Beauty that a friend gave me (for my cubicle at work but I'm afrad of someone stealing it). I like Maleficent...she was so misunderstood...shame on them for not inviting her to the party. Right now I have three chocolate eggs in the center. Figured it's appropriate for the season.
That's my highly cluttered alter. The box is decently big so there's room. It doubles as my workstation, hence all the random stuff on it. It's also half for work and half for show. I want it to look nice for company (since it is in the living room) but let them know it's being used. I also think of it as my version of a rock garden. Adding and arranging stuff and setting it up for different seasons relaxes me.
Oh yeah...right above my alter is my sword and dagger collection. With the creepy medieval-esque light fixtures, the alter area has a fun romantic look. All I need is to paint over the walls once the landlord agrees...

Our Altar Is In Our Dining Room. It Is A Recycled Wood... Apr 18th. at 12:44:00 pm EDT

Iko (Chicago, Illinois US) Age: 36 - Email

Our altar is in our dining room. It is a recycled wood kitchen cart - you know the kind with a drawer below the work surface, and then shelves beneath that with doors that cover them. It is made of unfinished but oiled wood (I oil it when I remember to - which is less often than I should), and its drawers and shelves work perfectly for storing candles, athames and other magickal as well as mundane items that I use either on the altar or on the dining room table. (I know some folks would not approve of my mixed use, but hey, I really don't think the Goddess minds.) On top of the table part I put a handmade panel that has a mosaic inlay made from colored stones of several butterflies which was set in a resin. This was originally a hand made coffee table from the 50's or 60's - I took the legs off and it turned out to be the perfect size and the butterflies the perfect symbolism (for me) for our altar. (And since there has been talk about online auctions - I bought the coffee table on Ebay - though it was not advertised in any way as a "pagan" item.) On top of the butterfly mosiac slab is small water fountain that is on a wire base with 4 legs that my husband gave me several years ago for Yule. I keep the water constantly running. I put different stones in the fountain at different times, its part of my personal magickal workings. Our cats love this water fountain, and I have to fill it every day because they rather drink from it than a water bowl. (Again, I don't think the Goddess/God mind at all that the cats are walking on their altar or drinking from their fountain.) It is because our cats do love it that besides beautiful pieces of art created by Pagans with Pagan themes surrounding and beneath the fountain (and almost ALL bought through online auctions - most recently e-witch), we also have on the altar the ashes of our beloved cat Osiris "Osi" who died a year ago, who also LOVED the fountain. The ashes are in a sealed container, which I then put in a beautiful silk covered box. At any one time there are several candle holders and candles on the altar - I like to collect stag candle holders to honor the God (again most come from online auctions). We do not leave our athames or other ritual items out on top of the altar (mostly for practical reasons - the altar sees a lot of daily cat traffic), but they are kept in the drawer right beneath the butterfly mosaic. Everytime I walk into the room I see the altar and this snaps my brain from the mundane world to the sacred one, even if just for a second. For me, that is the importance of an altar, one could have an altar piled high with BOS's, athames, bells, candles, etc., but if it doesn't take one from the mundane to the sacred, well its just a pile of stuff....

I Am Very Naturally/elemetally Inclined, So My Altar Features Nothing But... Apr 18th. at 7:19:20 pm EDT

Cahl Stormforce (Chicago, Illinois US) Age: 15 - Email

I am very naturally/elemetally inclined, so my altar features nothing but natural materials. The altar itself is a slab of slate, with two stones representing the feminine and masculine aspects of Divinity. To illustrate the elements, I have a peice of quartz, a feather, a peice of charred wood, and a seashell placed around a sanddollar. (Natural pentacle!) I don't actually use it for ritual, but it's very attractive and gives me a physical reminder of the world around me.

My Altar Is A Small Table I Made In Shop Class Years... Apr 18th. at 8:03:37 pm EDT

Stormwind (London, Ontario CA) Age: 23

My altar is a small table I made in shop class years ago. Originally, when I was living in dorms and on military bases, my altar was whatever dresser or end table came with the room; the small table was my shrine in my parents' house and very inobtrusive. I currently live in a basement (yes, a basement) and dont have a lot of room, so I've had to make the small table be my permanent altar. It doesn't leave me a lot of maneuver room, and it contains:

Back row, left to right:
Goddess candle, angel statue, incense burner, dragon statue, God candle
Front row: Candle in a bowl, potpourri in a bowl, pentacle, water in a bowl, salt in a bowl
Very front, in front of the pentacle: A polished stone split evenly down the middle into black and white halves.

I have to clear it off to do any workings...but so it goes.

Underneath, near the floor, the second shelf is my tool box. It holds my stones, my magickal jewelry, my rosary, bell, some candles...and my wand. I have to put my long incense burner, my rattle, and some other stuff on the floor in front of it.

I'm moving to my own place soon, a real apartment and not a basement. I hope to have room on top of a dresser for a larger altar, or maybe even pick up an end table at a flea market or something, so I can return the one I built to its more appropriate role as a shrine.

Actually My Altar Is Bare Right Now- A Very Unusual State Of... Apr 19th. at 6:32:41 am EDT

Aquila (Johannesburg, South Africa) Age: 41 - Email

Actually my altar is bare right now- a very unusual state of affairs as we are a 'pack-rat coven'-because it's brand new and waiting for dedication on Samhain!
But our 'old' altar held the 'standard Gardnerian' assortment of deity candles, salt, water, pentacle, chalice, censer, coven athames, coven cords, scourge, coven wands...and then we ran out of space for the sword!!
The altar is a permanent set-up, both as an honouring-place for the Gods, and as a working space...and yes, if there's ever a spare inch showing it gets used as a coffee-table too! I don't think that this is irreverent, as the Lady and Lord are so much a part of our lives that they participate in the normally 'mundane' activities, too!
I've enjoyed reading about all your different altars so much, thanks!!

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