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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: 20,880,286  

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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 

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!!

Not Only Do I Have A ŌmainÕ Altar In My Bedroom; I... Apr 19th. at 10:30:50 am EDT

Sunfell (Little Rock, Arkansas US) Age: 40

Not only do I have a ŌmainÕ altar in my bedroom; I have mini-altars on top of my computer monitors both at home and at work.

My main altar is a lovely old cherry armoire that I purchased while stationed in England. It is laid out in a blend of the Rosicrucian and Wiccan styles, with silk flowers that are changed at the equinoxes and solstices, candles, and the incense altar. Incense is burned daily. The armoire has a lovely oval mirror and side shelves that hold my statues of Bast and Horus, and my various crystals, feathers, sacred jewelry and other goodies. The drawers and cabinets contain my tools, candles, incense, tobacco and cornmeal (for Native American workings), and divination and circle items. The sword from my now-disbanded military coven (Runehaven) is parked underneath, awaiting rededication should I ever start another group.

My monitor at home has several interesting crystals on it, a bronze statue of Bast given to me by a friend who is now in the Summerlands, and a colorful titanium Ankh blu-tacked to the upper center of the bezel. My work monitor is a little less blatant, but still contains a couple of small crystals, a stone from the Between the Worlds stellium I attended last year in Delaware, a Beanie Baby tiger (a guardian) and a blue jay feather I found on the grounds of my workplace. A silver and lapis Ankh is blu-tacked to the center of the bezel, and a tarot card of the Rider-Waite High Priestess with a laptop in her lap graces the side. I get a lot of Christian visitors back here, but no one has said a thing about my monitor shrine. I guess they think the Ankh is a cross.

One can never have too many altars- I have my main one, but the mini-shrines and foci are also important. My east facing kitchen window is a small shrine to the plants in my life, and the top of my TV is a minor focus point when I am in there. It holds my Goebel panther and a pair of candles. This panther isnÕt snarling, instead, it has a serene look in its face, and the mouth is closed. A minor incense altar sits on top of one of my Klipsch speakers and a serene sculpture of Mr. Spock meditating sits on top of the other.

I take care of my altar by dusting it down every month, emptying the incense ash bowl, and polishing the brass tray that the incense burner sits in. Eventually, I would like to have different silk flowers for each month, when my budget permits. I will need to do the research to find out which ones bloom in which month. My altars are always changing, depending on what work I have going. IÕve done stuff like charging water, jewelry and crystals there, and IÕve parked the motherboard of the new computer I am building underneath it to give it a special charge. Since I consider the computer a magickal tool on par with the athame and wand, making sure its parts are properly aligned for the future work I will be doing with it makes sense. Perhaps in the future, IÕll have a workbench altar- it couldnÕt hurt!

My Altars Always Seem To Be Set Up On Top Of Bookcases... Apr 19th. at 12:30:59 pm EDT

Rhiannon Hawkwing (Hartford, Connecticut US) Age: 42

My altars always seem to be set up on top of bookcases oriented to the directions of east and/or north. This is likely due to working mostly with dieties associated with the cardinal direction of East and its attributes. As for tools, my athame is always there, along with a pentacle tile, 2 bowls, a white candle, a dragon-shaped bell, Florida Water, and a Goddess figure. The Goddess figure and candle colors change with the season or celebration. Any other additions are also holiday-dependent. The altar is dual-purpose; I worship there and work magic there. The altar is a focus for energy needed for the rask at hand. Therefore, any space with a symbolic focus may serve as my altar when needed. Altar Is A Celtic Reconstructionist Altar, So It Is A... Apr 19th. at 1:20:33 pm EDT

Aedh Rua (Prophetstown, Illinois US) Age: 35 - Email altar is a Celtic Reconstructionist altar, so it is a little different, though not too much. Let's see. My altar faces East. On the East side is any one of several JDL deity images which I own, flanked by a pair of candles. These are all images of various Celtic deities, both Continental and Irish, for reasons too complex to go into right now.

Just to the west of the deity image, but still in the East of the altar, is a chalice. Chalice??? Some of you are no doubt gasping in horror. In the East??? Yes, that't right, in the East. The East, in ancient Irish symbology, is the direction of "blath", or prosperity, symbolized by the Cauldron of the Dagda, of which the chalice is the symbol.

In the Southern quarter of my altar is a chain of silver bells. This is the Druid's Chain, a symbol of the Otherworld. It is in the South because in the same ancient Irish system, the South is the direction of "seis", or music, and has Otherworld connections.

To the West is a hand-carved wooden spear which was given to me by a man at this last year's Sacred Harvest Festival, in southern Minnesota. It is a very treasured gift, and is the symbol of "fios", or wisdom, in the same Irish system.

Just to the east of the spear, but still to the West of the center of the altar, is an incense burner. This is placed there for regular offerings, and is merely located where convenient.

In the Northern quarter of my altar is my scian, or athame. The North is the direction of "cath", or battle, the real symbol of which is the sword. The scian is a stand in for my sword, which looks better on my wall.

In the center of my altar is a large pillar candle. This is a symbolic "tenlach", or hearth. Near it, and somewhat off center is a
fist-sized stone. This is the symbol of the "lia fail", or Stone of Fal, which is sacred to "flaitheas", or sovereignty, the quality associated with the Center. Eventually, I want to get a symbolic bile, or world pillar/world tree. This will also go on the center of the altar.

Also, my altar has a green cloth. I suppose this symbolizes the Earth beneath us, though it also just looks good, and has a nice feel. This altar, by the way, is located in my bedroom, and is always out. Though I am not very public about my religion, I do feel the need to remind myself of my beliefs and values through symbolism in my own private space.

On My Altar I Have The Basic Tools Of Working. Candles, Incense... Apr 19th. at 4:32:25 pm EDT

Selene (St. Augustine Bch, Florida US) Age: 16 - Email

On my altar I have the basic tools of working. Candles, incense, salt, and water. But I also keep several items of importance to me to harmonize myself and lend me power. I have a set of five stones that I keep in a clear plastic box. One stone in each of the four compartments (the elements) and the fifth sits on the top (spirit). Also, since fire is my element, I keep an old candle holder on my alter where I keep a lump of wax from every candle I have completely burned away. Candles hold a great amount of power and these little bits of wax give great energy. I also keep a small box that holds a few odds and ends. So far there are several beads, a rose petal, a bracelet and a ticket stub. The the special thing about this box is that everything in it has something to do with my fiance. Keeping it on my altar lets me see it when I am working my magic and always puts a smile on my face. I also like to keep a small plant on my altar. Any plant that is let to sit on an altar grows very healthy and the one I have now is springing up quicker than the plant I cut it from.

But my favorite and most special thing is a dried rose that my fiance gave me last November. I keep it on my altar as decoration and sometimes use it as a wand in magical workings.

The most important thing to have with an altar though is personality and individualism. It's not what you have on it, it's what those things mean to you.

Hello From Almost As Far South As You Can Get Without Living... Apr 19th. at 6:49:09 pm EDT

Annwyn (Christchurch, New Zealand) Age: 30 - Email

Hello from almost as far South as you can get without living in Antarctica!
Well, as a broom-closetted pagan still living at home with her Mum (I'm also a full-time student, so it's keeping costs down...Goddess Bless all Mothers!)
my altar is something of a "quick, set it up and celebrate" situation. I'm also something of a (wait for it, a label!) Eclectic/Pre-Gardnerian/Celtic/Egyptian/Kitchen Solitary, so all things are possible!

I tend to use the dining room table (I know, there's a bunch of you all going 'shock, horror'!) with a cloth coloured appropriately for the celebration. The table is a large oval shape, so forgive me if things seem placed a little oddly! The table is placed in the North corner of an Easterly facing room, and the early autumn sunlight is streaming onto it as I write this...(drifts off into happy places)

Anyhoot, along the back of the table (the back is the long side that faces East) I place my Goddess and God candles; Goddess on my right (when facing the front) and God on the left.
Between those candles, goes my celebration candle, and the cakes/food offerings. That's the back row done.
Then, on the left, the incense burner, a chalice of water, a dish of rocksalt - or one of my pet rocks.
On the right, a chalice of juice/wine, my wand, athame, candlesnuffer and lighter/matches.
**Just a point here, there is usually a fire extinguisher/bucket of water under the table in case Loki decides to pay a visit and something becomes a burning offering...which he has done, with sometimes frightening effect. "Zoiks! Quick, the bucket!" LOL**
In the centre of the table (directly in front of the celebration candle and the foodie) goes my Spirit/Me candle, and the terracotta pentacle.
My BOS (which is a large lever-arch folder) tends to find itself relgated to a nearby chair, with the appropriate pages on the front centre of the altar.

Because I celebrate mainly during the day (for broom-closet reasons only) I don't use illuminator candles, but there are often four quarter tealights around the circle.

Well, that's mine for this time. In time, when I finish getting an 'eddycayshun' and re-enter the working world, I will get my own home, and then, oh boy oh boy, a full-time altar will appear! I look forward to that time, and with interest to see how I set it up then...

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