Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Redecorating My Altar

I've been thinking about making changes to my altar recently. Admittedly, I have not been paying much attention to it lately and had the thought that this might be why it is currently so bare and lacks the color that is usually incorporated into the area. Then I realized that what I had been needing was a calming and peaceful area that is not full of distractions and had achieved that by way of my altar.

Now that my life has calmed down, and winter is here in the northland of Minnesota, I realize that I am needing an area that is a little more vibrant in color, in symbolism, in energy. Before I start changing things around, I need to figure out what I want to achieve with this redecoration and how to go about achieving that goal. In other words, what do I want to put on my altar to make it symbolize what I am trying to achieve? In the next few days, I will be trying to figure out what I am going to be doing. As I tend to like 'found' items, instead of purchasing things, I would like to incorporate that aspect into my new altar setting. (The items currently on the altar we all given to me by friends or found.)

I started looking around the web for some inspiration and found it at The Moon Tree. Starfisher has a great post regarding what is placed on her altar complete with some beautiful pictures. Another interesting item that I saw online was the handmade, wooden portable altars.

As everyone has a different idea to what should be on their altar, I am curious and thus ask these questions: What kinds of things do you all consider when decorating an altar? What do you think needs to be incorporated in the making of an altar? Do you keep an altar up year round or just have one up during holidays? Where do you get your inspiration for your altars?


Hrafnkell said...

My altar is what Heathens call a stall. This is next to the hearth, which is modern homes is the stove/oven, as that is traditinoally the center of the house. The stall is dedicated to the ancestors as well as to the disir, who are traditionally understood to dwell at the hearth, and to the Gods. Here I have pictures, cultic objects, and it is where I burn candles and incense, and make offerings. Traditionally the fire in the hearth would be a sort of "eternal" flame but this is dangerous and (since I don't have a gas oven with a pilot light) the eternal flame in my home is a hot dish on the stall that heats the wax in candles and keeps the stall fresh smelling and wholesome.

Luna said...

I have lots of little altars around the house: on my bureau, in the yoga/computer/ritual room, on a bookcase in the living room, on the mantlepiece. Like you, I tend prefer found objects and very special purchased ones. I change them seasonally or when I get tired of them. My ritual altar is the most standardized. On it, I make sure there is a representation of Goddess and God, at least in the form of a black and white candle. I include a peyton, and representations of the 4 elements. My athame, chalic and wand are also there, if not standing in for air, water and fire, respectively. We also include a cauldron or incense. I also like Protection and/or Power Potion on the altar. Then, if I'm feeling fancy, I include stuff that represents my intention. It sounds loaded, but I can make it very simple when I need to.

Cosette said...

I have one permanent altar. It's a ladder-style bookshelf with four shelves. The top shelf has a statue of Kali, an incense bowl, candle, and flowers. It's where I pray, worship, and make offerings.

The second shelf is for my friends, family, coven, and other Witch kin. It contains a candle (everyone in my coven has one), Waters of the World (everyone in CoG has this), a CoG offering dish, and a gift I received from my HP. This is the place I use to stay connected to these people when there is distance between us, where I light candles for them when needed, etc.

The third and fourth shelves hold ritual tools and other items that I'm working with like a branch that I recently found that will become my wand and a symbol of the Goddess I'm currently working with.

Although I might decorate the house, I don't set up seasonal altars since I celebrate the Sabbats with my coven.

TurtleHeart said...

I have a main altar on top of a bookshelf that I've had since childhood. My main altar usually focuses on the season, I change the decorations around each sabbat as it comes up. The lower shelves hold a few prayer books, a tin with herbs in it, an old wooden box with unused altar items inside, jars of soil from my home state and blessed water, a cauldron and some other items.

Besides my main altar, I also have some small shrines set up around my craft room.

Here's a link to the most recent pic I posted of my altar, in case you may have missed it:

Bernulf said...

I don't have an altar in my home. There is the hearth, although ours is in our living room, not in our kitchen...but this is not a place where I offer prayer or try to communicate with the gods, it's a place for family, friends, house wights and the spirits of ancestors to gather.

My altars are all outdoors, and in this I feel especially honored and lucky - they include the mouth of the Weser river into the North Sea, a very Pagan-oriented structure in one of our local parks, and a meadow from where the most prominent sounds I can hear are made by crows. In a way, you could say that my altars also consist of found things...although I do bring offerings to these altars, and the offerings are usually not limited to found things.

peppylady said...

What kind of things do you have in your vase on your alters? To me it looks like you have a pussy willow in their.

Sojourner said...

Thanks to everyone for describing your alters and a little background information.

Cosette - I love the idea of using the latter style bookshelf.

Peppylady - Yes, they are pussy willows. Last summer, I found them laid out near my walk-out patio door. Thinking that somone was coming back for them, I left them there. When I realized that they were still there about two weeks later, I brought them in my home and put them on my alter.

Another "found" item on my alter (although the picture is dark and it is difficult to see them) are the agates that I found this summer. If you want to see a better picture of the agates, go into the archives for June or July of this year.