Your Personal Altar
What is an Altar?
An altar is a sacred space used ‘to make sacrifices’ to the Gods. Sacrifices! you say! What’s this!?
There must be an exchange of energy. The smoke of the incense carries our prayers to the Gods. The oils used lend their power to your workings. Offerings in the form of food becomes blessed by the Priestess during ceremony. We consume those blessings by partaking of bread and wine during ritual. All of the ‘ritual sacrifices’ lend their energy to the work at hand.
An altar is a physical representation of the elements; earth, air, fire, water and spirit. Above and below. Within and without. A place that is no place. And during ritual it can become a time that is in no time.
Why Have an Altar?
It becomes a focal point for all the energy you raise. A permanent altar becomes a place a power, a vortex of sorts. And your personal tools become charged each time you use them. Increasing their vibration with each use.
What Do You Use an Altar For?
I use my altar to charge objects and crystals. Cleanse jewelry, cast spells, observe the Esbats, Solstices/Equinoxes and Cross Quarter Days. I scry at my altar as well.
It can be a place where you sit down to meditate, perform japa (the practice of chanting a mantra on a mala), say your prayers, vibrate the LBRP, set lights, charge petitions, etc.
What Does an Altar Look Like?
Your personal altar can be almost anything. A table top, the top of a dresser, the top of an old trunk (used to store your magical tools in), a wooden board on the floor, a tree stump or large flat rock. You can simply lay a cloth out on the floor. You can leave it up all the time or you can dismantle it and set up fresh each time you it.
People will also construct their altar to be specific dimensions that are specified according to the type of magic being practiced.
If you are sprinkling salt water, burning incense, applying oils, you are creating sacred space; this is the altar where you set your tools. Even if it is a piece cloth, a tree stump or rock.
What is On an Altar?
Your magical weapons. Your tools of the craft. Representations of the elements and a representation of the Goddess and/or the God as you see fit. Photos, paintings, statues, as well as symbolic representation of the Gods are appropriate. An altar cloth. A pentacle for earth, chalice for water, censor or incense burner for fire and/or air. The wand for fire, a working knife called a bolline and an athame for air. In various traditions the wand is air and the knife/blade/sword are fire as they are forged in fire. I also keep a Sickle on my altar.
It is natural to place objects that are sacred to you on your altar. Also, sacred objects such as stones, seeds, roots and herbs are also appropriate.
Other items that are handy to have on or near by the altar are; matches, lighter, incense, oil, charcoal, dish for spent matches, candle snuffer, deck of card, runes, crystal ball, etc.
How do You Take Care of Your Altar?
The altar is where the realm of men and the realm of the mighty one meet. It must be cleaned regularly so it is a clear channel.
If you put your altar away after each use, carefully store each of your sacred tool as you put it away. Items can be wrapped in a special cloth before storing. Silk is a fabric often chosen for such magical workings.
If you leave your altar up all the time like I do, it will have to be cleaned regularly. Cleaning my altar on the New Moon seems appropriate as it is a time of letting go and new beginnings. So that’s when I tend to mine.
I believe it is very important to your sacred practices and magical workings to use the same physical space each time. Even if it’s as simple as; A corner of a room, a special chair where your books are stacked maybe even a special carpet you roll out. The places themselves become sacred after a fashion.
Great success to all your workings!