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Pagan Blog Project: Beginnings

The most common question I am asked is how did I actually begin my practice.  I’m sure that you readers are now wondering the same thing.  You have looked at your own beliefs.  You have come to have a decision and a direction, and you have figured out your concept of the divine.  Now that you have all of those choices and all that work done what do you do?  You actually begin your practice.

Beginning Your practice

The first step on your path is to perform a rite of introduction to the Gods and spirits of your practice.  By now you should have read a few books on the practices of the path you are taking.  If you have a reference for this then that is great.  If not I am going to give an outline for an introduction rite.  Yes before you begin performing offerings on a regular basis it is important that you at least introduce yourself to the pantheon and the spirits you intend to work with.

Now it is important to note that an introduction rite is not the same as a dedication rite.  That is something we can cover another time.  An introduction rite is a more formal way of saying hello.  You may have prayed and gave offerings before as part of your decision making.  Thats good.  Its a start.  Now you are formally declaring your intent to study their ways and work with them.  Before it was a “Hi this is for you if you want”.  Now its more formal.

So what was the point of the ritual before hand if we are beginning with a deeper more direct ritual?  This ritual is a step below actual dedication.  You have not completely dedicated yourself to their service but you are basically promising to study their ways for a year or so.  During that year you will perform rituals, pray, meditate, read, and reflect.  If after your year of studies you have formed strong bonds and feel called to do further work on that path then you will perform a rite of dedication.  For now a rite of introduction is still important.

What does this rite entail?  It entails preparing yourself mentally and physically before the ritual.  Its going to entail blessing the offering in their names.  Its going to entail prayer and meditation.  Its a very simple and basic ritual.  However when you put all your emotions into the ritual you can find that even the smallest ritual gesture like lighting a candle with intent can produce substantial results.

The Ritual

Materials:

  1. Candle to represent your passion and your flame
  2. Note book to write down the ritual and any personal messages you get during the meditation
  3. Fresh soap for the ritual shower  & your normal shampoo and conditioner
  4. Candle for the God and or Goddess
  5. if you are 21+ an alcoholic drink to share as a communion if not sparkling ciders are good
  6. Chalice
  7. An incense you find appealing
  8. Water
  9. Salt

Here is the rest of the ritual

Ritual Shower:

  1. Set the shower at as high a temperature as you can stand and get in.
  2. Begin to wash your body with you soap.  Using the soap suds see the soap becoming all negative energy and all doubts from the day.  See them coming from your body into the  soap.  Put the soap down and rinse your hands.  Let the soap stay on your body for a moment and let it continue to absorb your negative energy and thoughts.
  3. Take your shampoo and lather your hair.  Do the same thing you did with the body to your hair.  This time focus on intense emotions and thoughts.  Focus on stress and frustrations during the day.  See those items become the suds in your hair.
  4. Rinse your hair and place the conditioner in it.  Let the conditioner soothe those thoughts and feeling.  Let the conditioner bring you a sense of peace and relaxation.  Work that sensation all through your hair.  Let is set for about five minutes.
  5. Stand in the shower in a position where your hair wont get wet but parts of you can.  Start to rinse yourself off.  As you start to rinse see the shadowy soap bubble run down the drain and fade away.
  6. After a few moment step under the shower directly and rinse completely,  This time seeing everything run down that has not already gone away.
  7. Repeat the shower one more time.  This time chanting “Water Water Wash Away.  Water Water Cleanse today”
  8. End the shower.  As you towel off wrap yourself up in a white light of positive energy.  This will replace and replenish the energy that was removed through the cleansing shower.

Introduction rite:

  1. Get dressed and set up the altar or place for the ritual.  Make sure you have a container for the water and a container for the salt as well as your offering of food and drink to the Gods.
  2. Mix a pinch of the salt into the water.  You are making Holy water right now.  As you mix the salt and the water see any impurities in the water be gone.  See the water being filled with sacred light from the great divine forces out there.
  3. Light your incense
  4. Take the salt water and either in a circle or simply by sprinkling the water in the four directions dedicate the space as being sacred.  Call upon any guards and guides as you see fit to witness this rite.
  5. Repeat the process with incense.  Now you have consecrated the space with all the elements.  Earth and water in the holy water and fire and air with the incense.  The place is now set for spirits and gods to come and answer.  At this point it is best to remain in the ritual area.  You should only leave in an emergency situation.  If you do say a quick prayer for exiting and a prayer for entering.  Other traditions have other ways of entering and exiting the space in ritual but this prayer will work for now.
  6. Light the Candle for the God and Goddess (both or just one depending on what you had chosen to do)
  7. Call to the Gods.  If you have read an invocation or prayer to them for calling them to a ritual now would be a great time to recite that work.  Basically ask them to come with you now and to join the rite.
  8. Light the candle to represent yourself.  State your intention to learn the ways of those Gods and their followers.  State who you are and why you are serving and learning their ways.  Promise to do your best to learn all you can and integrate what you learn into your life.
  9. Bless the drink and pour a drink for them and for you.  Share this drink with them.  You can praise them or you can silently meditate on their presence and the meaning of the rite.  You should have an idea at this point if they are accepting of you and listening to you,
  10. When you are ready thank the Gods and the spirits for attending the rite.  If you formally laid a circle or walked a circle you can release it now.  If you just sprinkled some water and consecrated the ground by extinguishing the incense and the candle the space is being released. You can then extinguish the candles.  You can pick up and put away.  You may now say a final prayer of thanks and wishes for continued guidance as things get put away and cleaned up.
  11. Record the ritual in the notebook.  Write down everything you did all your feelings and all your emotions.  Write down what you think about what you did and how you felt before and after.

You have now formally introduced yourself as their student.  You have now taken a step into letting the Gods lead the way and be your teachers.  Now you just need to listen to what they have to say.  You may find the lessons come in very strange forms and you may find that things come into your life for no reason after doing this.  These actions are a result of your introduction and prayer manifesting.  The Gods are listening.

Why those who seek spiritual connections are always studying

The last few blog entries have been focusing on why pagans and witches are very individual people and why personal truth is so important.  Today is a bit of a continuation on that theme.  Today it’s about why witches and pagans are always seemingly reading a new book or looking for new materials to study,

There is always something new to explore or even something old to reexamine.  With in the realms of spiritual practices and spiritual development there is always something new to learn about.  There are so many different cultures out there that one can always look to new cultures for further inspiration as to where they would like to go or different types of practices.

I’m going to provide a few cultural examples that you can look at to see what I mean when it comes to looking for new things to study and explore to advance your spiritual practices and development.  These are examples of things that I have looked at and thought about for my own personal studies.  Though these will only serve as examples.  From here  I will go back and talk about what exactly this means for you as a seeker and a practitioner.

The first example I am going to cover is that of Germanic Paganism and witchcraft.  These are two spiritual and religious paths that are a part of my personal practice that also inspire and help form the products that this business sells.  This is also a popular culture to explore spiritually right now with more people having interest in Germanic mythology with new pop culture references.

In Germanic paganism there is a lot of lore that can be explored.  Most people start off with the Eddas and Sagas.  With in the Eddas and Sagas there are many tales of magical practices and spiritual works.  This is where most of the concepts of Modern Germanic worship come from such as the Blot and the Sumbel.  The Eddas and Sagas while having an extensive study in themselves, is not the only source of the lore out there.

Many people are familiar with the Grimm’s brothers fairy tales.  These fairy tales actually come from the Germanic forests,  These fairy tales provide another source of wealth for practicing Germanic Paganism and witchcraft.  The tales describe many different spirits and even some of the traditional practices of the Dwarves, Witches, Elves, and other spirits found within Germanic cultures.   These tales provide even further keys into the folk knowledge that create the base of witchcraft and other magical practices.

Aside from the fairytale and the Eddas there are other sources of practical information.  The Rune poems give inspiration for the practice of rune magic which has been mentioned in the Eddas and the Sagas.  By reading the Rune poems a Germanic Pagan begins to study another wealth of information regarding the spiritual practices of the ancient Germanic Pagans.

Even within the Umbrella of Germanic Paganism and practices one could go into even more specific studies.  For example one could focus their attention on the continental practices in old Germany and Norway for example.  Focusing even further on some of those specific tribes.  One person could even focus on the Anglo-Saxon practices (England mostly here for those looking for a region).   One could go so far as to say that even the Icelandic practices and tribal setting would have been different.

While each of these tribes had a base shared language and some base cultural similarities, the names for the Gods and even some of the specific practices were different.  Though they were similar and related enough that the cultures and tribes were able to trade and intermarry and work successfully together in war and in peace.

Those are just a few examples from the Germanic cultures.  There is so much to explore and study within one area of the vast umbrella of Paganism and Pagan spirituality that one will always find something new to learn and study.  Even if a person decides to stick to a specific set of cultural practices and identities ( Germanic paths for example) there will always be something to learn.

Here is a set of examples from a different Pagan culture completely.  Hellenic Paganism or Greek style Paganism has many different facets.  This cultural style of study and practice can be even more difficult and extensive as it is so diverse.  You have on one hand the cults for each city state as well as cults of areas.

Greece because of the way it was organized for many years did not have really a cohesive religion for the culture.  They had in general a pantheon that they all shared with some common festivals, but each area was highly specific.  There were areas where people focused their entire worship on One of the Gods and you had those whose temples were only really visited once a year (The Elysian mysteries for example).

Hellenic pagans from what I have found typically follow one or two specific Gods that are their Patron Gods. While extensive research into the practices of worship in the culture is important in order to form bonds closer to their chosen deities they will most likely focus their attention on studying the cult centers and cult worship of those Gods.

The above examples were specific to Paganism in general as a study.  Now I am going to try and give some examples of magical practices from the view of a witch who is always studying and learning.  This blog does focus on all of these topics so covering both of these topics in this entry is reasonable.

Within magic and witchcraft there are many different ways to practice and types of practices that one can study.  To be honest there are so many options that a newbie often seeking to start practicing witchcraft can feel overwhelmed.  Which is why many find that mastering spellcraft can be near impossible and they wonder if they are doing it right.

In magic you have herbalism, crystal and gem magic, Galdar, Seidr, Trance work, summoning, healing work, poppet magic, astral projection, weather work, ect.  Often times a person may have so many interests that they can’t figure out where to start and will find that practices can overlap.

I’ll take Herbalism for example.  In Herbalism a witch and magician studies the herbs that they work with.  They can use them in powders and in potions as well as in oils, lotions, tinctures, soaps, and other types of charms.  There is also the healing work with herbalism.  Though while one studies making an oil for example they may learn or hear about spell oils from Hoodoo and then start to explore that for further herbal use and practices.

The examples above are one cultures examples of how deep and diverse the study of a cultures religious heritage can be.  The above examples also illustrate just one example of why it is impossible to master the spiritual crafts.  There will always be something new to learn and explore.

This is also why some witches, Pagans, and spiritual people tend to have rather extensive libraries.  Books are used as references in work and in studies and are often to valuable to just borrow from a library when it is needed.

 

Animal Familiars for Beginners Book Review

The book  by Alexandra Chauran is an excellent book for beginners in Wicca and witchcraft.  This book while it focuses on the aspect of working with animal spirits in magic and ritual also covers most of the basic concepts in Wicca.  This book overall covers the 8 sabbats, spells, meditation, trance, and spirit work.  The only aspect of Wicca that is not covered is deity worship which was not the focus of this book.  By eliminating the focus on deity chants and the worship of deities the author was able to touch on basically all Wiccan principles and focus on the work of the book which is connecting spiritually with animal spirits.

One of the definitions of a witch is “One who has a familiar spirit”.  In the media there have historically been images of cats, snakes, spider, and bats as witch familiars.  Witches and animals who help them in their work have been a part of witch lore for centuries.  Often times today modern witches wonder if the idea of working with a pet as a familiar comes from the witch trials or if it comes from an actual historical practice and if one can work with their pets as a magical ally.

The introduction of this book provides excellent insight into what sort of materials you will find within the book.  The author first starts off by talking about her personal experiences with animals both spiritual and mundane.  The author then goes on and explains what many of the benefits found in the book will be,  Finally the author ends with providing a few different real life examples of people who have had experiences with animal familiars.  The mixture of history, personal experiences (the authors and other people) and the exercises provide powerful insight to what this book has to offer.

The first chapter of this book covers the history of witches and familiars.  The author covers stories from Shakespeare to a few tales of shape shifting in the witchtrials.  The author covers here why witches have familiars, what they are, and a few of the forms they can appear in.  This is the first time the author mentions the possibility of working not at all with physical animals but animals who may not exist such as Dragons, unicorns, Mythical serpents, and the like.  Here we are introduced to the idea that the types of spirits witches can work with are not limited to just those who live and breathe in our worlds.

The second chapter is one that most modern witches and pet owners should really look into.  This was the chapter that struck me the most.  Like most witches I am an avid pet owner and I have worked some magic with my pets.  This chapter in the book gave me new reasons to consider the possibilities of working with my pets within ritual and the home.  The key points included in this chapter were things I might not have thought about such as adaptations that a witch may need to make in their practice to have their animals p[resent such as no incense for birds and the need to move altars to places where cats or dogs wont jump on them or knock over the candles and cause fire.  The second chapter focused on animals within Pagan homes and how one can work ritual with them.  The chapter ends with a simple spell that can be used to find more pagans who are pet friendly considering that some may have allergies and the like.

The third chapter is probably where the reader can most clearly see the Wiccan elements of the book.  This is the chapter on actual rituals with pet familiars.  Here the author discusses the basic components in Wiccan ritual and how you can work with animal familiars.  The circle casting involves animal spirits rather than direct elemental spirits which can be a drastic change for most who practice Wiccan style rituals.  After discussing the circle casting the author then provided several different types of spells and rituals that can be performed with pets or other animal familiars.The author then provides two different examples of how wildlife can be used and seen as a focus for the Wheel of the Year.  There are sample rituals and concepts provided through out the chapter.

The fourth chapter discusses totem animals and how they can also be considered spirit familiars.  The author starts this chapter off with a description of a Marine who got a wolf tattoo after his service.  The author provides the story as an example of how as humans we can take on the characteristics of animals both positive and negative.  The author the provides a few working examples of how we can use totem animals for strength and courage as well as other aspects we may need to bring out of ourselves in our day to day life.  The author then goes into shape shifting as a historical practice and about how we can find our totem animals.  Finally the author touches on animals as spirit guides and guardians in meditative work.

The fifth and final chapter in this book is a book on working with wildlife.   Earlier in the book the author discussed and mentioned working with incarnate animal familiars.  These are animal familiars who we may work with that are not physically present in our lives.  Here the author talks about doing meditative practices outside in nature to connect with the animals.  The author provides a few examples of how you can work in nature to work with wild animals as familiars and how you can give back to them.

Though this is a very short book each chapter provides significant information for a beginner to get started with.  The chapters are concise while providing the needed information.  This allows the reader to have a starting point for beginning their journey and allows them plenty of room to have their own experiences and develop their practices from there.  This will allow people of any experience level to gain some insight from the book and be able to try new things.

~Loona Wynd~)0(

Please comment and let me know if this book review was useful for you or not.

Know your craft

It is important to know your craft as a witch, pagan, or spiritual practitioner. One does not simply know their craft through books and study. One must practice and explore their craft in order to really know their craft.

It is often said that Witches dont believe. That they know. This is because they have experienced magic and spells. They have done the rituals and done the book study. Putting them together one gains knowledge and wisdom.

So how does one get to know their craft and path?  One must gain experiences.  By trying new techniques that are read about in books one gains new experiences.  By performing exercises over and over one can gain deeper understanding of the topics they are exploring.  This gains knowledge.

There is an academic study involved in the development of knowledge.  This involves history and cultural studies.  It involved studying mythology and folklore.  It then involves studying practical modern books as well.  From here we gain exercises and techniques to try.

The important thing is that one must actively practice their craft in order to really know the craft they practice.  The practices give us experiences.  These experiences are what give us the potential to access and experience the various types of mysteries mentioned in a earlier post.

Witches experience their craft.  Pagans experience their deities in ritual and in trance.  Shamans experience the spirits that they work with and fight.  Magicians know the magical forces they work with.  Here you could say that experience turns belief into knowledge and inner truths.  In the end this is what it means to really know the truth and the crafts that we practice.

Some witches will choose to practice certain crafts more than others.  Every witch must find their own practice and style of working their craft.  There are never two witches who will practice the same thing.  We must develop our own practices based on our own experiences and tastes.

Knowing our craft comes through study, exploration, testing, failures, and much more.  This takes time and effort but it is worth it.  Find what areas and styles of witchcraft really catch your fancy and drive you “wild”.  Ignite your passions and find your craft.  Create it and craft it.  Learn it and study it make it yours and claim the knowledge for yourself.

~Loona Wynd~)0(

Witches and Personal Truth and Myteries

Religious witchcraft falls under the category of mystery religions.  In mystery religions the focus is not on worshiping the Gods through action and words but on having direct experiences with the Gods and the spirits.  Mystery religions are all about bringing forth the Gods from within you and becoming one with them.

Mystery religions are not religions of the book.  In a mystery religion it is not so much important on how the religion is practiced.  This is actually  a type of religion which is based on experience.  The lore and the rites of the religions are there to guide and direct you towards your interactions with the Gods and spirits and may even provide some context for the meetings.

The nature of these religions means that it is impossible for each witch or participant to ever have the exact same experience.  Even covens of traditional Wiccan practices like Gardnerian or Alexandriean while there is a core set of contexts and practices which provide a foundation for some what shared experiences, in the end each of the members of the covens have their own relationships and their own unique experiences.

Mystery religions can not be learned from a book.  With this statement one may be wondering why there are so many books out there on the market on witchcraft and pagan practices.  The answer is simple. The books provide key concepts and guidelines which can lead the seeker to having their own experiences.  With the books and the concepts within the books a witch is able to begin their understanding and practices for developing their own spiritual path.

This is ultimately the reason why two witches will never practice the same path even within the same tradition or base practice.  Each with must find their own way.  No one path is better than the other paths out there.  It is simply not the path for you.  Even if a path is not perfect for you there may be something in that path that will inspire you or have something to teach you.

Be open and let the spirits teach you.  Find your own wisdom and personal path.  Let your heart guide you and your path can do no wrong.  Go out there and experience life and what the spirits has to offer.  Play and go wild.  Don’t let other people tell you what to do.  This is your path and your journey.  Find your own truths and find your spirituality.

~Loona Wynd~)0(

Simple Daily Spell

One thing that many starting Pagans, witches, and magicians seek to do is find a way to  integrates their spells and rituals into their daily life and really make it a part of who they are.  When I started out in my studies and practice of witchcraft this was one thing that I too struggled with.

Here is a simple spell and ritual that you can use every morning to refresh yourself and prepare for a new day.

Materials:
SoapWater
Shampoo & Conditioner

When you get into the shower turn the water on to as hot as you can stand.

Get in the shower and let the water rinse you off.  A the water rinses your body before you soap state:

“Water water wash away
Water water cleanse today”.

Take your shampoo and soap and wash your body once.  Repeat the chant over and over again.  As you watch the soap go down the drain visulize all emotional baggage that causes you pain washing down the drain as well.

Soap yourself up and repeat the chant and ritual once more.  This time see any and all blocks in your way going down the drain.

You may shorten the chant to “wash a way cleanse today” as you get into the washing.

Use this each more to prepare for each day,

Enjoy!

Loona Wynd

Pagan Pride day events- why we should attend

H: Heathen practices and me

Heathenism

For many years the only definition of heathen was one who was not Christian.  If you look in the dictionary you will still find that as part of the definition of heathen.  Today however I am not talking about the dictionary definition.  I am talking about how it relates to the modern Pagan culture and the culture of Germanic pagans.  My heathenism studies have been a major influence in my path and on my craft as a witch.

The heathens of today are often hard to define.  For some people it is an umbrella term for an eclectic Germanic recon path.  For other people is a very specific tradition with in the label of Germanic religions. I consider it to be a term for an eclectic approach to being a semi Recon based practitioner.

You may be thinking wait a minute you can’t be both eclectic and a Reconstruction can you? When it comes to the Germanic religions it is more possible.  There are several Germanic cultures to choose from.  You have the Angels and the Saxons, The Danish, The Norse, The Icelandic, the Franks, and several other tribes.  Each tribe had slightly different lore.  By studying the lore of all the paths and tribes a person can gain a fuller insight into the lore for Germanic paganism.

It is the Nordic lore which we have the most information from.  It was also in Norway and Iceland where the religious practices of the Germanic tribes lasted the longest.  Several of the sagas that many heathens use as source texts for their practices and understanding of the culture are preserved in a book titled The Sagas of the Icelanders.  These sagas tell of the social structure and the social etiquette.  From these sagas we learn how they lived.  That is why they are excellent sources to use.  The other books which provide sagas and lore about the Gods are:

Saxo Grammaticus: The history of the Danes

,Heimskringla: The life of the Norse Kings

Right now I am in the process of reading  Heimskringla.  I’ve already gotten some information about lore but not a whole lot. Snorri used the same tale about Odin founding the Kingdom of the Norse in both the prose Edda and in Heimskringla.  Both tales are very interesting and explain a bit of the culture of the Gods.  Yet my preference is for the origins discussed in the poetic Edda.

My Heathen Practice

My personal heathen practice is more related to the magical practices and the crafts.  Witchcraft  as we know it ultimately came from the Anglo-Saxon culture.  There are three primary deities associated with Magic and witchcraft Odin, Freya,and Loki.  Many of the books I have read on Traditional witchcraft have had a Germanic slant.  That’s one of the things that started my more invested study and practice with Germanic pagan traditions.

Aside from Raymond Buckland’s Seax Wica there are several other traditions of witchcraft which have a more Germanic leaning..  These books along with the Eddas and Sagas has helped me develop and understand how Germanic magic worked and what the culture was like.  As a witch I have found this knowledge and information immensely helpful and informative.  I have gained much wisdom from those practices.  Yet it is not the only part of my heathen practices.

So what makes me a Heathen?  Worship of the Aesir, Vanir, and Jotun.  I have accepted the Nine Nobel virtues as part of my moral and ethical guidelines.  The Germanic tribes had a concept of Fate of sorts called Wyrd.  There is a lot about Wyrd I am still trying to understand and evaluate for myself, I am not discouraged by it though.

The Norse were very much a warrior culture.  For them it was about honor and the battle.  Yes they had head hunting and other practices that today are considered “Barbaric” but to accept the deities with out accepting an understanding of the culture which worshiped those deities is meaningless.  Yes.  The Germanic tribes were considered barbarians to the Romans & Greeks, but so were the Celtic tribes.  It is only by understanding or trying to understand the culture in which the deities were worshiped that we can truly understand how the religion and spirituality of those times worked.

My interest as an anthropologist really plays into why I work so hard to reconstruct what I can.  It is actually through historical sources such as the Sagas of the Kings and warriors and the few archeological finds that we have any concept of what that culture was like.  The practice of heathenism also plays deeply into my desire to connect to something from my blood ancestry.    For me it was sort of embracing a part of my history and understanding where my family origins were.

What my heathen practice entails

I have not fully developed a comprehensive unified product of witchcraft and Germanic paganism.  While witchcraft is a part of my worship and practice of Germanic paganism, there is a lot more to it than that.  My heathen practice entails doing a specific form of ritual called a Blot to the Gods.  It involves prayers and obviously magic.

I am looking into learning more about rune lore so I can try my hand at runic magic.  Working with the runes would also allow me to learn the mysteries of the Runes.  Rune magic is actually one of the priary forms of magic used in Germanic paganism.  It was gifted to Odin after he sacrificed himself to himself on the tree of knowledge and wisdom.  There were several sets made I know of one for humans, one for the Gods, and one for the Dwarves.

My practice also entails a lot of study.  There is probably more study than worship at times, and that works for me.  My worship is actually often times more impromptu than it is for specific holidays or occasions.  I have even developed my own ritual structure for their worship which they don’t seem to mind which is a combination of a Blot and a typical religious witchcraft ritual.  One of the reasons I study so much is there is a lot of lore to pour over and assimilate and there is also a lot of history and multiple translations of sacred texts to read.

The path to wisdom is never ending.  This is just one place you may also be able to find wisdom and truth.

 

    ,

A: Altars Phase 2-specific practice and path requirements

Last week my post was dedicated to the beginner and the start of building an altar.  As I said building an altar can seem very overwhelming to a beginner.  The same problem can be seen to occur with people have have been on their path for a while or have finally chosen their specific paths after a lot of exploration.  This post here is going to address how a more advanced pagan can develop altars specifically dedicated to their paths.

Phase 2:

Path specific altars and specificity

Last week I mentioned that some paths have very specific altars and there are some times reasons why you may need to change your altar for a specific sabbat, spell, rituals or activity.  The more you read and research the more ideas and concepts you may want to try.  For this reason it’s important to understand the rituals and the magical practices you are exploring .  You may need to have different supplies from those supplies that you started with.

This post will cover a few specific points on the topic of seasonal, magical, and path specific points.  Each one of these points will illustrated why there really is no wrong way to set up your altar unless you are on a very specific path.  Like I said in my previous post exploration, trial and error are going to be all you need.

The topics covered here will be:

  • Eclectic witchcraft altars
  • Brittish Traditional Wicca altars
  • Traditional witchcraft altars
  • 8 sabbat altars (Wicca and witchcraft)
  • Ceremonial magic
  • Asatru altars and items used
  • Hellenic (Greek worship)
  • Religio Romano (Roman worship)

Each of these paths have very specific altars and ritual tools.  Each of these paths have specific ritual forums for which their altars are designed.  Each of these altars has a different use and different specific ways to be used in the altars.  I’ll start with what I practice myself.  That way I can ease into the paths I have explored but have little to no personal experience with.  I am always studying and I am always willing to try something new, but lets start with that which I know.

Eclectic Witchcraft Altars:

Eclectic altar 1

As an eclectic witch there are really no real limits and style for the altar.  However there are some common themes in the altar set up.  Ultimately each witch has to choose how to make their own altar based on what works for them and how they worship the God and Goddess or the spirits they work with.  This is where the comments of my last post and directions of my last post come into play.  I will however list a few of the common traits and guidelines I have come across for more dynamic and specific worship set up.

Altar direction:

One of the most confusing things about an altar can be what direction it’s supposed to face in ritual.  Some authors say the altar should face north.  Other say it should face east or west.  Very few authors I have encountered over my studies have suggested that the altar should face south for fire.  When a seeker or an advanced practitioner may set out to set up their altar for ritual they still may ask themselves where they should place the altar in the circle and if they want to have the altar face a certain direction.

I have found for myself that ideally my altar would be placed in the center of the circle facing no specific direction.  While yes the altar will ultimately be facing a direction I find no reason for me to be worrying about if my altar faces the wrong way.  For me the altar is the center of my worship structure.  It is there where I place my offerings and where I place my tools during the altar.  Which is why I would prefer to have it in the center of my circle.  Unfortunately that doesn’t always work when you have limited space for ritual and moving all the furniture is not a reasonable option.

One of the other reasons I like having the altar in the center of my circle is that during ritual if I am going to use ecstatic practices such as dance, scourging,  movement, or even the basic circle dance it becomes much easier to move around.  It also makes it easier for me to define a very specific ritual area and I’m able to work ritual with in that area thus creating such a special sacred space.  For many reason this makes it easier for worship and magical practices.

Elemental symbols on the altar

Most of the books out there mention that as part of ritual and practice there should be some basic symbols of the elements on the altar.  Much of the modern witchcraft philosophy plays into the thought that each of the elements is involved in every part of magic and worship.  Many witches believe in the Gods and elemental spirits that rule the winds and the powers of those elemental. This practice was firs seen in the Golden Dawn.  Since modern witchcraft as we know it has its origins with the OTO and other forms of ceremonial magic as well as the local natural magic and folk practices of the Isle of man I can understand how Gardner (father of the witchcraft renaissance) formed the practices together.  I appreciate this practice and have come to my own understanding of the elemental spirits and guides.

As a witch or magician there are many ways to work with the elements in magic and ritual.  For many people there is a red candle for fire, a bowl of salt for earth, a bowl of water for water, and some form of incense for the representation of air.  In my early days on my path this was something I had chosen to do on my own. It was simple and it was a very effective mode for my early years and some of my time when my living arrangements were less than grand for  my religious and spiritual practices.

Aside from symbols that are literal representation of the elements there have often been tools used in ritual to invoke and call in the elements during the practice of circle casting.  Sometimes the water and salt mentioned above are used in the invocation, but more often than not there are other tools involved within the rituals.  Typically these are the athame (ritual dulled dagger), the wand, a bell,  and occasionally the drums.  There will be more talk of the elements and the common elemental tools when I make my post on the elements.  For now I’ll post an altar that has the elements mentioned and get on to the next type of altar, a traditional Wiccan altar.

My semi typical Eclectic witchcraft altar

My semi typical Eclectic witchcraft altar

British Traditional Wicca Altars

There are only a small collections of  BTW traditions.  The traditions that are identified as BTW are:

  • *Gardnerian
  • *Alexandrian
  • *Mohsian
  • *Central Valley (a collective term for the traditions named below)
    • -Silver Crescent
    • -Kingstone
    • -Daoine Coire
    • -Assembly of Wicca
    • -Majestic

    there are some very specific structures to the altar and it has to be set up this way.  One of the reasons for that is that Wicca is a tradition defined as:

  • *Inititory
    • *Lineage
    • *Oathbound
    • *Orthopraxy
    • *Mystery
    • *experiential
    • *fertility
    • *witchcult

It is the orthopraxic nature of Wicca which is addressed in this post.  The set up a BTW altar is going to be very specific.  While they may change with various rituals in general the set up of BTW altars is set up a specific way.  This plays largely into how they work rituals and how it’s vastly different than how eclectic practice rituals and use their altars.  BTW is a coven based religion as such there would only be the coven’s set of tools on the altar and personal tools would be on your person.

BTW altar

There are different set ups for initiation and different sabbats.  The Farrar’s in their book A witches Bible they had diagrams for the various altars that they were using.  While it’s true that there are oathbound practices and lore, the Farrars gave enough information to get the concepts needed behind the placement and purposes of the items that a seeker would be able to have some concepts behind what they were exploring.

I have never been initiated into a Wiccan coven.  So I have nothing more than the understanding of a seeker.  I have a few friends that are initiates and I have been seeking more and more.  While I am not specifically seeking Wicca at this point I am seeking truth and wisdom found in witchults and witchcraft traditions.

Traditional Witchcraft

Traditional witchcraft is yet another form of witchcraft.  The basic difference between those who identify as Wiccan and those who are practice the common form of Eclectic witchcraft is that Traditional witchcraft is more focused on the practices of witches that occurred pre-Gardner.  Traditional witchcraft focuses on folklore from various cultures and the central theme is ancestral worship (which is discussed in my other blog).  In many ways the tools and the actual worship is more land based and more nature oriented than the typical eccelctic path as it explores in depth all aspects of life and creation as well as death and destruction and the relationships between them.

This is reflected often in their altars.  There are two ways traditional witches can set up their altars.  The first is:

altar in a more traditional sense

altar in a more traditional sense

The second type of altar is the prefered style of many traditional witches.  Traditional witches in many ways prefer to have their worship outside as the conection the the land is much more powerful.  Even a few of their sacred space techniques would be much more powerful outside than inside.  It’s the nature of their practice:

Stang as an altar

Traditional witchcraft altar

The third image is what the second image often starts out with during the initial prep.  Instead of a table the Stang (the forked staff) when planted into the earth is used to hold ritual tools and items as well as be the center of the worship.  The stand is often associated with the world tree and thus is a central part of the worship in traditional witchcraft.

I have a stang and a staff.  One day I will use them in ritual together.  For now I have other influences from traditional witchcraft in my path which I will get into little by little in these posts or in my other blog.  My main influence from traditional witchcraft now aside from my underworld views, is having an ancestral altar:

My ancestral altar

My ancestral altar

Now I am on the last topic that is directed specifically towards the nature of witchcraft religions and practices.  This last practice is tied directly into the lore of each of the sabbats and how each witch practices those sabbats.  So here we go,

Altars for the 8 sabbats

The 8 sabbats in the various forms of religious witchcraft are one of the primary ways they connect with and worship their deities. Each sabbat leads into a key point or mystery of the nature of the universe and the cycle of life from birth to death to rebirth.   The sabbats also go over the nature of the dynamic relationship of the God and Goddess they worship.

Each sabbat will there for have a unique altar setting.  In many witchcraft traditions the winter solstice or Yule is considered to be the start of the cycle.  I however feel that the cycle actually begins with the midwinter holiday of Imbolc.

Imbolc

Imbolc has always been associated with the birth of new animals.  There is the symbolsim of milk being the first food for mammals and it’s prcesseses.  Here we are able to really plan for the start of the year and the growing season to come.  Its where in ancient times Farmers would finally start to have a source of income from the milk and cheese which would provide needed nutrition and additions to the diet that has been upon them since the last harvest.

I see this as where the God is born of the Goddess.  That is why I believe the wheel of the year starts here at Imbolc.  The altars at this time of year are decorated with signs of the light really returning and plans for the future.

Imbolc Altar

Altar 7 Imbolc& Spring Equinox Altar

Ostara: Spring Equinox

The next sabbat in the cycle is the sppring equinox.  The sun has really returned.  The day and night will be of equal length.  The light has been increasing slowly since Imbolc but now it has returned.  Here is really the symbol of rebirth.  The trees have spread their leaves and there are more buds coming from the ground.  Planting is in progress and the animals born at the time of Imbolc are starting to be more independent (baby chicks and bunnies for example).

Ostara Altar

Here at Ostara the Goddess is as a maiden young and innocent and the God is a boy of around the same age (I typically picture between 4 and 7).  They are just starting to explore and understand the world.  This sabbat is essentially about the freedom of inspiration and imagination that is often lost after childhood.  Its about growth and development hopefulness and a zest for life.

Beltaine

This is one of the highest holy days in many of these traditions.  Here sex and sensuality are explored and celebrated.  In the cycle of the year the God has reached sexual maturity and is going to be taking the maiden he met at Ostara and enjoying the nature of sexuality and sexual contact.  This is also known as May day.  Here the God will give the Goddess his seed and she will be carrying his child (to be born at Imbolc).

Beltaine Altar

Litha: Summer solstice

Litha is the height of summer. Its the summer solstice.  The light is in full swing.  Crops are starting to be grown and some are being harvested already.  The Goddess is pregnant with growth and glowing with maternal pride.  The sun gives her fertility for growth every day.  As the sun heats so do the crops grow and develop.

Summer solstice altar

Summer solstice altar

Lammas or loaf mass:

This is the first of the three harvest festivals.  The summer is reaching it’s end.  The grains of the summer are ready to be harvest at this time.  This will be ground and separated into feed for the animals and flour for bread and biscuits and the like.  Some fruits are enjoyed and loved at this time.    The rituals here are typically around harvesting the first hard work of the spring and enjoying the fruits of that labor.  There are a lot of rituals involving the sacrifice of grain and the blood of the “sacrificed king”.  It is believed that the God is sacrificed here so that the land will remain fertile between now and the end of the growing season.

Lammas altar

The lord of the grain has been given up so that the lord of the animals and winter could take over the land slowly.  The blood spilled will nourish the land.  This can also be seen in how the sun seems to be dying at this time of the year.  The difference in light has started to be more noticeable with more night starting to be more in control.

This summer I experienced that change and power during the camping trip that I mentioned in my welcome back post.  I was able to forget everything and just revel in the power of nature and the dying of the sun enjoying the last of his life before the darkness takes control and his real underworld journey to be reborn begins.

The wheel continues to turn and we turn to where the light and the dark are equal.

Mabon: The Fall Equinox

Mabon is the second harvest.  The majority of the harvest is being harvested and enjoyed.  There is plenty of food to go around.  In many ways this harvest has been described as the witches thanksgiving and I wold have to agree that that is true.  The god’s essence is being given to the people through the food they eat.  The Goddess is mourning the loss of her love and is nurturing his son growing with in her womb.  Here the focus starts to be more on the animals.  This is the time of year when hunting and gathering would truly begin.  This is why we have hunting seasons to this day.

Mabon Altar

Mabon Altar

Samhain/Halloween/Ancestor night

This is the most famous holiday of witches.  Many of the traditions associated with the Halloween stories and decorations have roots in various witch lore and history.  The green skin, the crooked teeth, the hat, and many more come from witch trails and lore as well as other folk lore.  The dressing up as goblins or other “scary” spirits was done when traveling from place to place at this time to scare away malevolent spirits crossing over.  The essence of the “haunted season” is in that spirits of all sorts are more active on this week.

This is also the last harvest festival.  It also the night where the ancestors can cross over and visit their living loved ones.  This is why there are so many traditions relating to crossing over at this time of year.  The veil between the underworld and the world of the living and life as we understand it is at its thinest.

Samhain altar

Samhain altar

As you can see the altar both represents that which is alive and that which is dead.  The seeds of the harvested plants can be gathered and prepared as the stalks and leaves fade and dye.  The  seasonal leaved trees have almost all lost their leaves while the evergrees are still vibrant.  Life and death are equal here and now.

The God has descended into the Underworld and is ready to start his journey to be reborn.  Part of his essence remains in the land and in the forest as the Lord of the wilderness and in the Goddess as the Lord of the sun and grain yet to be born).

Yule: Winter solstice

This is the final sabbat in the wheel of the year,  This sabbat is the day when the night overcomes the day.  Here we are now in a time of the underworld.  Nothing can really grow at this time of year and we are dependent on the food that was stored during the harvests.  The animals have been slain so that now only the strongest and best remain.  It is the time to reflect on everything that was done that year and to start thinking about how the new year will bring new opportunities and will be a time for changes of what will be needed.

In essence the spirit of the God is reborn with in the people.  They feel the sun and inspiration and hope for the future growing with in them.  They also start to understand that even though some real tough times are ahead until planting begins they can get through it.  It will be the last time they can really celebrate and renew themselves for the next year.

The sun is reborn on the morning after the solstice as it is from that that we know the sun will overcome the darkness.  This is how we know the God lives and will exist again.  His shadow is still slightly in power as the symbols of this time are reindeer and evergreen forests.  These are symbols of the God as the Lord of the Hunt and the Lord of the animals and how they live together.

The first altar will be one of my own Yule altars and the next altar will be one for a generic concept of the season

My Winter Solstice Altar

My Winter Solstice Altar

Yule altar

Yule altar

Now the wheel turns and brings us back to Imbolc which was the first seasonal altar I posted.  I hope this gives you and understanding of how different altars can be made and created for specific holidays and celebrations,  Now I will get into the last real magic and directly Occult type of altar I planed to discuss.

Ceremonial Magic

Ceremonial magic is one where the altar has direct symbols for the elements and is focused on a connection with the God head.  In many ways it is often connected with Christianity and Christian mysticism.  The truth is the early forms of ceremonial magic were based on Christian Occult and mystery practices.  Here was where you could find the practices of “Christian Magic”.

Many of the rituals are based on calling in the arch angles and the invocation of their power into the magical space and to help empower the magical actions being taken.   This rite can be traced back to the Ritual in short hand known as the LGBRP which means the Lesser Greater Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.  I am trained in this ritual and have used it many times. This is a complex ritual which I will go over in length when I have my post on ceremonial magic. In essence you call in the four arch angles to protect the space while vibrating the various names of Yaweh to sanctify the space and prepare it for magical ritual and practice.

I have said before that I practice a form of dragonic witchcraft and magic.  This is very true.  That practice is very ceremonial.  The opening ritual is very much designed after the LGRBP.  I call upon the dragon guardians and guides that I have a relationship with rather than angels.  The symbolsim is in the structure of the ritual, the tools used, and the altar.

The tools mentioned in the eclectic witchcraft altars can trace their origin to the LGRBP and many other rituals performed by the OTO.  Gardner who was the one who crafted the new form of religious witchcraft as we know and see it to day was a member of the OTO and other occult practices.  This played into how he crafted the religion of Wicca.

The altars I have shown above may very much resemble this altar:

Diagram of ceremonial magic altar

Diagram of ceremonial magic altar

Ceremonial magic altar

It is what I would use more often than not in the presence of a Christian friend who wished to attend my ritual.  This is also where the heremetic philosophies of the Kyballion allow for there to be witchy changes and views.  All of them are essentially the same practice, but the rituals are designed to be related to be specific to that path and that practice.

Draconic altar

Draconic altar

Finally I can start getting into some of the more path specific altars regarding more culture specific altars.  This next section is directed more towards those who have found the deities and the paths they follow.  Some of these are more recon style (recreating in modern day to the best of their ability the ancient religions of various cultures) and some are still semi inspired by previous eclectic practices.

Asatru & Other Germanic faiths

Asatru is the recon of the Norse beliefs and religion.  The focus is typically on the Aesir.  The primary sources of their lore is the poetry and the sagas of the Norse and Germanic people.  These inclde the Poetic and Prose Eddas, the Sagas of the Icelanders, The Vinland Saga, and many more.  The altars and worship style is very simple and elegent.  Their rituals are known as a Sumbel or a Blot depending on the content and the like.  Both of those are other topics I will bring up over the course of this year.

I have two sample altars to show you:

Asatru sample altar 2

This is an altar that some one shared online.  The tools are simple and the ritual is still rather joyous and intimate.  The next altar shows what each item is called and as I said I’ll be going over this in more depth when I discuss Blots.

Asatru sample Altar

The next two religions are often discussed together as they are very much associated.  The first is Greek reconstruction often known as Hellenismos and the second is Religio Romano which is the reconstruction of the Roman paths.  There are some very substantial differences between the two paths.  To be honest I haven’t explored either of these paths as indepth as I would like.  While I do have an interest in both of those as they were the first deities I met and worked and worshiped as a teen my path and practices have lead me in other directions.

Hellelnismos

Hellenic Altar

Hellenic altar 2

Both altars are dedicated to the Olympic or Cthonic Gods.  There are very interesting cleanliness restrictions of these rituals and in their worship that in some ways to me is ridiculous.  However they also had the most sophisticated sanitation and irrigation systems than any other cultures of their time.

Religio Romano: Roman Reconstruction

The altar in the traditions of ancient Rome was called the larium,  There are specific designations for what goes on the larium and in the practices of their religion.  They also have very strict cleanliness requirements.  They also hold that if there is any mistake in the performance of a ritual they must cleanse themselves and the larium and start the ritual over from the begining.    It is a orthopraxic religion much like Wicca though they focus on any and all of the Roman Gods.

Religio Romano Altar 2

Religio Romano Altar

As you can see there are some very different altar structures and set ups for the different paths one may encounter as they seek.  You may find yourself attracted to one culture and want to learn more about how they were worshiped in ancient times and then find that you may find it’s to strict for you so you do something inspired by them.  That is why the first post was about seeking and basic introductions and the second post was mostly directed at specific paths and how they are different.

A: Altars-Phase 1- 6 key points and exercises to building an altar

This is the first post of the new year.  Once again I will be participating in the Pagan Blog Project.  The Pagan Blog Project involves one post a week on Friday based on the prompt of that week which will be a letter of the alphabet.  With 52 weeks that means each letter will be done twice.  So it’s appropriate that my first post of the year be a part of the project which got me writing and developing my audience.  With out further Ado:

Pagan Blog Project week 1: A

Altars:

The simplicity and the complexity

One of the first questions that many seekers ask themselves and look for an answer when they read a book is how to set up an altar.  To be honest this is something I have often asked myself.  Every path has a different style of worship and a different type of an altar.  This is why altar creation is often a confusing topic for seekers.

I have found that altar creation often goes and works in two phases.  The first phase is one of basic simplicity and progress of development spiritually, magically, religious or what ever.  The second phase is one of more specificity.  Here the path and orientation of the altar is more specific and designed for a specific path and practice.  While a person develops spiritually they may end up going through both phases multiple times to expand horizons and to develop the way they wish to.

So with out further ado here are the seven key tips and pointers I have found for altar creation and development during the first phase of the altar and spiritual guidance.  As a person evolves in their spiritual path their altar and how they use it will evolve with them.  The first stage may see a lot of changes rapidly and that is completely normal.  It’s important you try to be like water and adapt.

Seven points of Phase one

  • Define Altar
  • Figure out what style of altar you have in mind (ceremonial,shrine,easily hidden, permanent, easy up&Down, travel, indoors, out doors) each of these types of altars have different things to take into consideration.
  • With no specific deities or altar set up in mind let the altar build itself until you get a feel for where you are going (maybe start with a candle and some incense a statue, things that relate to your path, ect)
  • Tend to the altar regularly (spend time working with it, using it, making things for it, cleaning it, ect)
  • The Gods and spirits will guide you-let them
  • Experiment till you find what works for you

So let’s start with the first point as it then gets into the second point.

1) Define Altar

Any person who has spent any time reading books on meditation, psychic development, witchcraft, magic, spirituality, paganism, occult philosophies, magick and the like has read several different definitions of what an altar is and why it is used in that manner by that path.  For this I can understand why it can be difficult to try and understand how to develop your own altar and what you might want to put on it.

Here is my definition of an altar:

1: A work surface for magical workings (spells, crafting magical obejcts, consecration, ect)
2: A place for placing offerings for spirits and deities
3: A focal point in ritual to direct and manifest energy to be sent out during worship
4: A place dedicated to a very specific spirit or deity where prayers and rituals are offered

When I am working a ritual I typically use all four definitions at one time.  I often feel that in my religious and spiritual practices as well as philosophical experiments and practices I find a way to implement and use all four definitions.  In that way I have an altar for every need including two for a two very specific types of spirits (Dragon and ancestral).

Exercise 1:
Take a piece of paper and at the top of the page write out your concepts and ideas for what an altar is.
Include diagrams of how you might picture your own altar or altars

This brings us up to point 2:

2:  Figure out what type of altar you would like

In my outline and introduction I mentioned that there are many different types and styles of altars.  There are altars outdoors, altars set up in Temples, altars that take up a wall, simple altars, complex altars, path specific altars and many more.  In many cases books will provide some diagrams for altars, or can provide altars that look so complex and overwhelming that a new seeker and practitioner will get overwhelmed.  That’s why before any one starts to form an altar they need to have their definition and an ideas.

So remember those sketches I had you do?  You might have ended up with a diagram like this

Altar 8 simple and ceremonial altar

or this:

Book Altar Diagram

The important thing is that you may have some sort of idea in your mind.  This is great.  Part of coming up with your definition of an altar was coming up with how you were going to be using your altar in your spiritual and religious development.  With your definition you now have some idea where to start.  The second point here is to decide exactly what type of altar you are going to construct.

When you consider what type of altar you are going to build there are many considerations.  For one do you want to have an altar outside or do you want to have it inside?  Is your altar going to be up permanently or is it going to be put up and taken down when you need or desire to use and work with your altar?  Is you altar going to be open for any one to see or is it going to be hidden?  Before one can construct an altar they need these questions answered.

Exercise 2:
On a new piece of paper (or the back of the same paper) answer the following questions about your altar
Inside or out?
Hidden or open?

Permanent or only when needed?

Once that is done we can get onto the next set of questions related to figuring out what type of altar you are going to be setting up.  How you answered the above questions is going to dictate what happens next.  For example I myself want to have an outdoor altar but I don’t have one because I can’t.  For years I had to decide if I wanted to hide my altar or if I wanted it open and there was a time when it had to be hidden.  There were times when I could keep my altar up all of the time and there were times when I had to dismantle it after a ritual and setting up the altar actually became a part of the ritual.

Third exercise:
On the same piece of paper under the last three questions answer the next set of questions
Is my altar going to be ceremonial?
Is it a focal point for energy in ritual?
Do I want something simple or something complex?
Does my path require something specific at this point in my studies?

Now that you have decided on how you ultimately are going to set up your altar you can get on to point 3.

3: Let the altar Build itself

Now that you have an idea and decided what you want to do it’s time to start letting the altar build itself.  The first step is choosing where to place your altar.  If the altar is outside figure out where and how you are going to use it.  Think about if it’s going to be environmentally friendly (if permanently established outside or in a closed area).  Once you have that it’s time to build your altar.

Here you need to think about what you actually want to put on the altar.  As a starting point you may want a candle holder and and incense holder.  You may also want to put on any objects which seem to be spiritually important to you and help you focus.  What you start with may be impacted by your location and supplies on hand.  Never forget that you can use household candle holders and the like for your altars and rituals.

The simplest altar I have:

Altar 4

Here you can clearly see a single candle in a candle holder and two religious symbols one for the God and one for the Goddess.  You can also see that I am simply using the top of my dresser as the altar.  It’s a simple altar for basic daily affirmations and meditation exercises.  It was also used for focusing energy towards the spirit of the home and land before I could give the offerings to the spirit in person.

Some people freak out when they see an altar like this (not mine):

Altar 9 Complex Altar

Early in my seeker years the above picture is how I always figured a magicians and witches altar would look like.  I never felt my small altar (like the one pictured above) would actually work for magic.  Though all the books I read stressed the importance of making sure that your altar reflected yourself and what you had, I never felt comfortable and that I was doing it right even though I was doing what seemed to feel right.  This goes into the next exercise I have for you:

Exercise 4:
Find where you are going to build your altar and clean it.
Gather up the items you are going to place on your altar and place them to the side of the location.
As you put the items on the altar focus on the altar and it’s new purpose and keep an image in your mind of what you are using the altar for.
When done stand up and say something like a dedication prayer:
“I now call this my altar and it shall be consecrated and dedicated to all my spiritual, religious, and magical pursuits”. 
Focus your energy into a ball and “throw” it into the altar
Now that you have an altar built and established it’s time to talk about the fourth point which is tending to your altar regularly.

4: Tend to the altar regularly

Tending to an altar seems like a simple task right?  Well it’s not that simple.  Tending to an altar can be simple but it can also be very complex and require time and effort.  This ties into the first point about understanding and defining an altar and then figuring out what you are going to be using the altar for.

An altar that is dedicated to a specific spirit type such as a Dragonic Altar:

Dragon altar

Tending to the altar is a daily task.  The management of these altars is the primary way to  maintain relationships with these beings.  Here you will give offerings, keep the place clean, offer prayers, focus energy in worship, and use as an aid in both magic and spiritual endeavors.

A meditative and simple focal altar like the one on my dresser are simply tools for practice and serve specific purposes.  Maintaining them is about using them to build practice and strengthen your meditative and trance practices.  They are primarily magical tools and working with them exercises those magical mussels.

Altars set up for generic rituals, and specific sabbatts are designed to be created and maintained as part of worship and a development of a relationship with the Gods and spirits.

Sabbat Altars:

Altar 5 Winter Solstice Altar

Exercise 5:

Once your altar has been established spend about 5-10 minutes a day working with your altar.
Fondle the items on the altar, light the candle,  give a prayer, etc.  Build energy and focus the energy into the altar.
Record each day your experiences.
After two weeks feel the energy of the altar before you begin your altar maintenance and after.  You will be seeing how an altar starts to develop ts own energy and persona.  Take that energy and mix it with your own and put the new combined energy into the altar.
Record and repeat.

This brings up to the fifth point of developing an altar.

5: Gods and spirits will Guide you, Let them

As you begin to build your altar and your relationships with the spirits involved you may start feeling the Gods, Goddesses, and spirits directing you over time as to what may and may not belong on the altar.  It is important that you listened to these voices.  The altars I have posted above are always evolving and changing.  With each change I try to capture a photo of it that I can eventually place into my BOS for prosperity.

 

worship altar 1

For that reason there the final point of this essay is important.

6: Explore and Experiment

Over the years my altars have been experimental.  Sometimes the layout and the rituals just failed.  Sometimes the ritual worked, but the altar layout failed and didn’t make any sense.  It’s through these trials and errors that we finally start to figure out what works for us and our path as well as the spirits and deities that we are involved with.

The experimentation should also reflect growth and trials for new things and development.  You need to be willing to fail and willing to try something before putting it aside.  You need to have the courage to develop on your own.  You can use what others have shown and have it be a base, but in the end you need to make it your own.

As you evolve the different aspects of your spirituality may evolve and start to merge together into one cohesive path.  This is what starts and evolves into a tradition.  Things that were separate blended together to make one, a syncretic path.    A key way to discover this and see how they are becoming one is to watch you altar over time (this is why the pictures are important).

As I understand my deities and my path I hear their voices and my instincts have started to guide me in developing my altars to reflect my path.  Every once and a while when something doesn’t sit right a new altar is created and it allows for new insights and different types of worship.

That is the essence of exploration.  Now my path has three distinct altars one for dragons, one for ancestral and home spirits, and one for worship.  With out exploration I would have never found that this was the best balance for me.  The worship altar does change as I have a different sabbat altar than I would a ritual and prayer altar.

My Dragon altar evolved from God and Goddess with a Dragon too being it’s own altar:

Altar 7 Imbolc& Spring Equinox Altar

Dragon altar

Exercise 6:Once a month try a new set up to your altar.

Draw a diagram or take a picture of the differences and record the physical changes.

During the month continue the maintenence exercise as above and record the differences.

Notice any changes that occur in your energetic field. 

If something feels wrong change it and record the changes.

  If you feel more powerful or more positive record the changes and start to expand and understand the way the energy works. 

You may find that one setting is better for you than an other

I hope that this outline and guide has helped you as a seeker.  As I said this only covers the first phase and part of altar making and development.  The second phase is a bit more indepth and will be the focus of next week.  If you have any questions or thoughts please post them in the comments section.

~Loona Wynd 1/5/2013 12:01 am~

 

 

 

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