A is for Altars

So, I’ve signedup to The Pagan Blog Project which means, in alphabetical order no less, I shall be blogging weekly about Pagan stuffs. I should point out that this is going to be my own take on things and may not be that widely applicable!

Two weeks per letter means that I’m starting off talking about Altars, mostly mine.

One of the first things I found I did deliberately as a Pagan was set up an altar. I mean deliberately as in I thought about it, had read all the books and it was my concious physical action to get going down this path that so called me. I should also point out that I’m an Eclectic Wiccan. Some people are going to be confused by those terms other will have read them a million times in those books you find in the Mind, Body, Spirit section of Waterstones. I’ll explain as I go on I suspect, in the meantime feel free to read the wikipedia articles.

In accordance with everything I’d read about I had a main candle and something to represent the four elements (earth, air, fire and water) at each of the cardinal points. I had a lock of my hair as a promise to The Goddess since I had also dedicated myself to her and a picture of Cerridwen and a sculpture of The Green Man. It was set up on my windowledge which faced north-east – the beginning of my thinking that things had to be ‘good enough’ and not getting too hung up on absolute perfection – and there was an apple tree directly outside that often had blossom on twelve months of the year, that includes whilst it was fruiting.

It was a good spot for serious contemplation of magic and meditation on religion and over the years I’ve always set up a main house altar, but I’ve often set up specific ones as well so that there is a corner of the important rooms in the house where my mind will focus on the religious/spiritual elements of my life.

When I moved to Japan that was my first encounter with any other traditions than western neo-paganism having altars set up in the house. I’d had a lot of experience with Heathens and various polytheists encorporating ancestor worship as part of their religious practice but this was the first time I’d ever seen ancestors on a house altar. I liked it very much and I liked the different elements on a shinto household altar, encorporating their traditions. My experiences in Japan have lead to there not only being a representation of each god that my household is involved with on the house altar but also there being a small place for offerings to be left and candles to be burnt in front of them.

I like that my altar has grown over the years and as more traditions have been encorporated into my practice my altar reflects that. Each of my gods has representation on my altar, my wreath that I burn each Yule resides there. It is a place for reflection and celebration. My kitchen altar is a place for specific thought and magic and currently I’m lacking my usual centring bedroom altar. The house altar, though is no longer simply my own, my partner has his own gods up there and those that we both worship, the decorations on the altar at least attempt to change with the seasons, though as with many busy pagans we don’t always manage it. It does have it’s votives lit eight times a year and more as we celebrate and mark specific passings. My ancestors have not yet found their way up there but my friends helped me to set this altar up as a very specific part of my housewarming when we moved into this house.

It was the first focus of my Paganism and it remains a central physical focus, an outer expression and meditation on my religious practice and as it is a part of the central hearth a very central part of the house as well.

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