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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: 20,881,989  

Vox Q Stats

Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 103

Lurker/Post Ratio: 318 to 1

Question of the Week: 97 - 2/2/2003

What Natural Objects Are On Your Altar?

Do you have sticks or stones or shells on your altar? How did you come by them? What do you use them for?

Do you go by the traditional correspondences in using your ritual tools (colors, gemstone properties, elements, etc) or do you let the object ‘tell’ you what it is to be used for?

What is your favorite magical/magickal gift or tool from nature? Why?

How do you set up your personal altar(s)?

 Reponses:   There are 103 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

My Alter Feb 3rd. at 3:50:28 pm EST

Nadine (Lincoln Ne) Age: 55 - Email

My altar has a short polished length of corkscrew willow. A stone and shell from the sea. A crows feather, picked up in my yard and several small hand thorwn pottery bowls. A plant which changes often, or a flower in season. The altar and it's contents are fairly constant. Other things come and go as needed. The stone is earth, the feather air, the shell water. A bowl of sand holds the incense stick or a cnadle for fire. Often things are pushed to the back of the altar... making room for one of the 'sacred' felines who often pick inconviente times to rest themselves amid the sacred.
I have many stones. most I have picked up during my travels. Some come in and out of the garden. Some are Guardians of the home. Some are used to bind that which I wish to change and some to add their serenity to my altar. I like stones. I like to hold them and feel the strength and solidity and deep peace they bring me.
The willow helps me move energies, sometimes it becomes a broom, to sweep away the old and what ever I want to move out of my life. The feather also does the same kind of thing. Instinct and intent decide which I use. Feather can also be a wand at times. So can cat's whiskers. (for light quick and graceful movement)
The only things bought are the star shaped candle holders the incense sticks and candles.
The altar and it's contents change according to need, desire and what's come to my hand.

So What's On My Altar Then? Feb 3rd. at 5:14:57 pm EST

Hedaras (Southampton - England) Age: 19 - Email

Becasue I live in a small student room, my altar is actually *in* my wardrobe. Anyhow, it's always got loads of natural things on it. I tend to amass bits and pieces from all of the special places that I go to.
I've got a naturally holed stone from the top of the highest mountain in Ireland (I follow the Irish Tuatha de Dannan - so that's fairly significant to me) , as well as water from the Chalice Well in Glastonbury.
I keep all of my working materials on may altar, becasue i normally do rituals without one, or use a treestump or something, as I prefer to work outside. I've got candles to represent the elements, a couple of athames, and a couple of wands (I make all of my kit myself, so i tend to amass it over time) There's some birch bark parchment that I stripped off a fallen log before I used the rest to make wands and a staff, and there's jewellry that i've made that I sometimes wear.
Next to the wardrobe, actually visible in the room, I have a table with some candles on it and a shallow chalice full of blessed salt. I've got yet another wand (woven oak this time) leaning up against the wardrobe, and always keep a basket of whatever fruit is in season (or apples+oranges if nothing is) full on the table.

I think that about covers it.

Bright Blessings


Stuff Feb 3rd. at 5:24:24 pm EST

Autumn (Greenville, NC) Age: 19 - Email

I am also a student, and I'm not allowed to have candles or open flames in the room. So, I keep my altar in a little moon-shaped box. It has a tiny shell, feathers, rocks, and dried cactus flowers (what I use to symbolize water, air, earth and fire) , as well as a rock with a Goddess symbol on it and another batch of cactus flowers as a God Symbol. I have a small stone box full of salt, and I usually use herbs or other natural materials in lieu of candles. I usually don't keep my altar out because there really isn't room and because I don't want to have one in a space I share with my roomate since she's not Wiccan. (She is, however, very cool about my religion and gives me time alone when she knows I need to do a ritual or on sabbats. She rules!!)

More Stuff Feb 3rd. at 5:26:10 pm EST

Autumn (Greenville, NC) Age: 19 - Email

I forgot about my wand! It's a really long cinnamon stick. Some people find it odd, but I like it!

Altar? What Altar? Feb 3rd. at 5:30:20 pm EST

Tina Horn (Washington, DC/Columbia, MD) Age: 35 - Email

I have a box of stuff in the closet, but nothing formal set up. I guess that I feel that I don't need to make an outward display anymore.


Hmmmmm..... Feb 3rd. at 6:39:32 pm EST

Allegra (Michigan, USA) Age: 15 - Email

Well lets see:

*Salt in a sea shell
*Water in another shell
*egg rock
*fire rock
*Dear antler
*Painted seed beads
*The alters made of wood
*Seasonal decorations

Natural Altar Feb 3rd. at 6:48:05 pm EST

Stephanie (Montreal) Age: 16 - Email

Hmm, well lets see, on my altar I currently have two beeswax candles that I bought last weekend, a sand dollar that my mom found many years ago and gave to me, a shell from my grandmother, various rocks such as my "moon rock" which looks like either a waxing or a waning moon, depending on which way it's facing, my "demi rock" which is almost cut perfectly in half, a rock with the word Spirituality painted on it by a friend of mine, and a small pieceof amethyst that my best friend mined for me a couple years back. I also have two identical feathers that I found on two separate walks.

What I Keep On My Altar Feb 3rd. at 7:20:46 pm EST

Lunareclipse (Chattanooga Tn) Age: 25 - Email

My altar is very crowded heh. Its a small wooden rectangular table in front of a large window. In the middle is a large wooden plate that I painted a pentacle in the middle with corrisponding colored candles to represent the elements. I have bells, white carnation flowers in a lemon vase, a bowl of sacred salt, a corked container of holy water, a offering bowl with painted various symbols, a Goddess statue I sculpted, um a bowl of river stones and crystals and amethest, a Goddess candle holder, um a Goddess incense burner, oh my wand I carved from a fallen tree in my yard, my athame, heh my candle snuffer.. um a stained glass sun candle holder to represent God, hehe you get the picture.

Always Natural Feb 3rd. at 7:50:56 pm EST

Andromeda (Hillsborough, NC) Age: 26 - Email - Web

Do you have sticks or stones or shells on your altar? How did you come by them? What do you use them for?

Do you go by the traditional correspondences in using your ritual tools (colors, gemstone properties, elements, etc) or do you let the object ‘tell’ you what it is to be used for?

What is your favorite magical/magickal gift or tool from nature? Why?

How do you set up your personal altar (s) ?

Currently, my altar is still dressed for Yule. Natural items upon it include: a Yule log, taken from felled wood and adapted by my finace, and dressed in holly and nandina greens and their red berries; my wand is a recovered branch of willow that I found on a hike in the woods with a white quartz crystal embedded in the tip; maple seeds from Mt. Vernon, NY; a sheaf of winter wheat that I purchased at the local Whole Foods Market; hemp altar cloth that I use for Samhain and Yule.

As for traditional correspondences, my athame is a Celtic inspired daggar, in light of my tradition. I also have carved Norse runes into my willow wand. My tradition is a combination of both lines of my heritage.

My favorite magickal gift/tool from nature is my wand. When I saw it lying amid the detritis of the autumn wood I felt it call to me through the blanket of leaves that covered it completely from sight. It, as with other objects I've retrieved, have told me what they will be used for. Somtimes their use is enduring, other times ephemeral.

My Altar Changes Feb 3rd. at 8:47:11 pm EST

Rainbow Zend (west Texas) Age: 37 - Email

There are only a couple of "natural" items on my altar, a couple of medium/large shells that belonged to my mother when she was alive.
Right now, I also have two wands and my athame which need to be re-consecrated, something I made of clay, a couple of candles (one of which I burnt down for the shuttle astronauts) an iron cauldron and an unusual mirror with a small statue of Kwan Yin sitting on its base.
My altar cloth is there too, of course, but store-bought, green with ankhs, starbursts and dots.
My altar actually has three shelves. Those are the things that are on the top.
On the middle shelf, I have items that could be used in a ritual such a censer, a chalice with a pewter pentacle on it, a smudge stick, the bayonet my father had in WWII (for a sword, because it reminds me of and connects me to him) and a book of shadows that I've started.
The bottom shelf just has an assortment of my larger candles.
My other supplies are on an old set of shelves which started out as a black chest of drawers, I think, but I reclaimed it from the alley, reconstructed it as shelves, and painted it white.

My Personal Prayer Table Feb 3rd. at 9:35:16 pm EST

Vivhianna (Ontario, Canada) Age: 20 - Email

Most of my actual worship is done outdoors, but I do have an indoor prayer table for occasions when the weather is just too nasty to go outside; it's hard for me to concentrate on the Divine when I feel like I'm millimetres away from being a Pagan popsicle. I also use it whenever I feel like doing more than just becoming quiet and whispering a few words when I pray.

Among the natural objects found on my prayer table are some seashells, a stick I found near an apple tree, and several stones from various places. The seashells were given to me by my grandfather when I was nine or ten; he passed away when I was fourteen, and they serve as a reminder of him. I found the stick when I was on a walk awhile ago, and I simply felt drawn to it; at the moment I don't know what its use will eventually be, but it feels like it has a place there. The stones I've picked up from various places; some are from the lake where my family has a cottage, one is a lovely piece of quartz which I found by the river Tay in Scotland a couple of years ago, and another is a stone with a hole through the middle which was given to me by a friend. Those, too, are mostly there not because I feel that they have any real use, but because it simply felt right to put them there.

Generally, I let my tools "tell" me what they are to be used for. My attitude is this: I was drawn to them for some reason, so I should take some responsibility for figuring out why. On reflection, I suppose that this is probably an expression of my belief that symbols are personal things; what means "protection" for one person may mean something different for another. Similarly, how one person uses a tool may not make sense to someone else. However, I do abide by some more "traditional" correspondences, when they make sense to me.

I'd have to say that my favourite gift from Nature is the water that I keep in a jar and in an otherwise empty flower vause on my prayer table. (There is a spring near my house, and I collect the water from there.) To me, water signifies adaptibility, purification and nurturing; however, it also serves as a reminder that too much of a good thing can be harmful, such as when a plant is given too much water. Of course, part of this may be due to the fact that I'm a Scorpio, a water sign. =)

Finally, my prayer table is set up rather unobtrusively; I don't exactly hide the fact that it's a prayer table, but I also don't want my dad to blow a gasket if he sees it, since he hasn't got the most open of minds on the subject of any religion that isn't Christian. I love my dad, after all, and don't want to make him upset when there's no need. So, I tone it down a bit; for example, I put the pentacle away when I'm not using the prayer table. I don't feel that this is at all dishonest. On the contrary, I consider it an act of respect for one of the two terrific people who have raised me, particularly since I still live in their house.

All in all, I rather like it. =)

Inspiration Tempered By Practicality Feb 3rd. at 10:32:45 pm EST

Dark Moon Panther (Rolling Hills of New Joisey) Age: 40 - Email

My altar has been many things in the past, including a box in the closet (during the years when little hands couldn't be trusted) . Currently, my altar is located, of all places, in the master bathroom in my house, awaiting the movement of a giant pile of dissertation-related material from the north wall of my bedroom. The altar itself is a low wooden table my husband built for me, covered with a black-and-silver cloth I bought as yard goods at Wal-mart, on account of its being pretty. I follow some traditional correspondences, especially the directions/elements ones, and the preference for having the altar in the North part of my house (thus the temporary bathroom location) , but let the object guide me as much as possible. Just about everything on my altar is either a natural object, or was hand-crafted, though not necessarily by me.

I have many natural objects on my altar, which have come to me in various ways. I have bird feathers (all found) , my cauldron and a small reproduction of Georgia O'Keefe's "Red Calla Lily", various water-worn stones and shells (all either found or gifted to me) , a wooden bowl containing acorns and rocks I found in various places around the US. I also keep a hand-made bronze pentacle, a Zuni fetish of my totem, and a tiny moss agate bowl on my altar. Other things come and go with the seasons, my whims, the need for clearing or recharging, etc. Except for the fetish and the bowl, my favorite magical/ritual items remain in the closet box, in order to keep the now slightly bigger, but still very curious, hands off of them.

My favorite item is not on the altar, out of concern that someone small will hurt themselves on it. That would be my athame (which my father made for me, and which is therefore, VERY SHARP) in its hand-crafted blue glass box.

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