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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: 18,320,948  

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Reponses: 103

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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 

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

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 UTC

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 UTC

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 UTC

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 UTC

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.

A Sea Altar Feb 4th. at 3:30:16 am UTC

Minerva Waters (Downers Grove, IL USA) Age: 27 - Email - Web

Natural stuff on my altar? Gee, do you think ...?

My altar is a sea altar. With the exception of the altar cloth (a scale-patterned blue cloth) , almost everything on the altar is found or made. The altar itself is our old kitchen table (one of those round drop-leaf ones) . The altar faces north, with one leaf dropped against the wall.

I use shells for containers for things like salt, the in-use water, my prayer beads, my pendulum, sand, incense, etc. They're perfect containers for a sea witch. I use a sand dollar as my pentacle, and a large shell for a censer (with some sand in the bottom to catch the ash and support the charcoal) . I also have some shells (particularly a fist-size cowry) as Goddess symbols.

I have a blue and green glass goblet (one of my very few 'bought' objects) , and a stained glass wand with a star on one end and a moon on the other (made by me a few years back) . For a knife i use a rather sharp brass letter opener with an anchor handle (found at a garage sale last summer) .

My prayer beads (aqua glass with a pewter dolphin terminator) were made by me, as was the quartz point pendulum. Both stay in a particular shell on the altar when not in use.

Stepping back from the altar and looking around the rest of the shrine (about 1/4 of my office area) ...

The 'wall' to the west is a bookcase holding my magick books and extra supplies (sand, sea salt, shells, candles, assorted tarot and divinatory devices, etc) . I had had a collection of different types of water, but recently had to dump it in the back yard. Some of the samples were getting a little …. stagnant.

The wall behind the altar is an actual wall in the room. There's some sea-themed posters up, and a boat-shaped shelving thing (minus the shelves) that holds my main Goddess image (which is draped with my collection of shell leis) . There's also some netting across the wall. I am working on some artwork made from painted and silver-leafed wooden disks to show the phases of the moon. When it’s done, it will go on this wall.

The east wall is also an actual wall in the room. There's some symbolic Goddess artwork i created, along with a pentacle dream catcher (also made by me) , and a spirit doll from an acquaintance. Below that is some shelving with more extra stuff (my scrying ball, knick-knacks, part of my fishing float collection, my homemade magick mirror) .

Behind the altar is the back of two bookcases, which have been draped with water-patterned fabric. I'm devising some hooks to hang up my ritual garb when it's not being worn, but those aren't up yet. Next to the bookcases is the entrance to the shrine. The entrance has a fishing net curtain suspended across, and there's a plaster pillar holding an offering basin, a shell of blessed water, and a vase of silk flowers and sea grass.

I don’t really have a favourite thing in my shrine. Everything is carefully chosen and has a particular purpose. I am always finding new things to add, and removing items that have served their purpose.

Crow's Feather's Feb 4th. at 3:51:22 am UTC

Morrighan (Outer Space) Age: 24 - Email

I have two crows' feathers from Ireland. I found them, trust me. I would not go and pluck a crow in Ireland.

Wicca On A Budget Feb 4th. at 4:26:00 am UTC

Seraiya of the Storms (Ypsilanti) Age: 22 - Email

Well luckily my dorm room is a single so I don't really need to worry about what my roommate will think because I don't have one! I took down my altar over holiday break though because the maintenance people come in over break and do repairs. I know it's been like a month but classes are hard lol (who knew) But on my altar (which I have basically set back up) is a cloth made out of the last 3 feet of cloth found a Joann's, a large earthenware bowl of salt water, a plant my hair dresser gave me in this lovely greeny black planter, a flat stone (which I plan on painting a pentacle on ) that holds my tiny mini cauldron I got from my cousin and my crystal ball. All of this sits on a easily collapsible table that I can move quickly if need be.

Natural Objects Feb 4th. at 6:55:14 am UTC

Phoenix (California) Age: 17 - Email

I've got two seashells, one spiral shaped one to represent the God and a cowry to represent the Goddess. I've also got a black bamboo wand and a small piece of driftwood on my altar. They come from near by, and set a peaceful atmosphere to the table.

Just Starting An Altar Feb 4th. at 12:29:02 pm UTC

Tracey (British Columbia) Age: 37 - Email

As I am brand new to kitchen/hedge/garden witchery, I am bit by bit putting together an altar and its on my windowsill behind my kitchen sink (where I unfortunately spend alot of time) I am, however, finding my time doing dishes passes much faster as I look at my treasures and daydream:

I have on it a pinecone, tealight, a little blue lace agate stone, a sand dollar, a newly sprouted pole bean plant my son just brought home from kindergarden (I don't think this will be able to stay long as it is growing at an alarmingly fast rate and will soon need to be repotted into a larger container until spring when I can put it outside) a tiny pottery bowl with sea salt in it, a tiny little apple (about 1" in diameter) that was in with a big box of apples I bought, and lastly, an absolutely beautiful greeting card I bought to keep as a's called "Moon Goddess" by Josephine Wall and I just love it.


Do You Have Sticks Or Stones Or Shells On Your Altar? Feb 4th. at 1:43:17 pm UTC

Tia (Jersey) Age: 16 - Email

I have stones on my alters. They give me an interesting sign of well being i don't know why but every time i hold them in my hand they give me a feeling of life.

Natural Items Feb 4th. at 1:55:56 pm UTC

Kelly (MD, USA) Age: 16 - Email

I have sea shells and sand dollars, rocks, and I a had the clever idea of filling a clear jar with snow and adding the appropriate food coloring dye. I used that instead of candles on Imbolc. The only thing is that the snow melts so it only last for about one ritual lol. I saved the melted snow though... just in case, we might not get anymore snow for a long time!

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