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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Altars

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An Altar at Lucky Mojo Curio Co., Forestville, CA

This post I hope to be another of a series of writings about magical objects, tangible items that have meaning to and are used by Pagans of various stripes.  I’ll work from the more immediate (altars, clothing, incenses, masks, etc.) to the broader (temples, nemetons, sacred spaces).

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

Coven Trismegiston Lammas Altar 2013

At a recent seminary graduation ceremony I attended I noticed the altar.  It wasn’t an altar like the altars I’m more used to seeing. 

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Acts of Devotion: Worshiping at the Altar

The altar is in your home, ontop the piano, the mantle, your bedside table. Its the dashboard of your car, the rim of your bathtub, and the window ledge.

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The altar is the prayer card you carry in your wallet depicting a beloved Saint, your cat drenched in the morning sun, your two year old's toes.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

For many, the Summers Solstice is a time for Sun, Sea and Sand, the longest day and the official start of summer in the West--a good time to create a shadow box altar to honor this turn of the wheel.

Before we get started, I want to tell you why shadow boxes are important. They are not only seasonal reminders of our 8 holy days, but they take concentration and focus. By thinking about the elements that go into the box, you are also centered on the meaning of each box. What represents Beltain? Should I include a maypole? What can I use from my environment to honor the gods at Imbolc? (The image below is a Beltane altar--in miniature!--and made from clay, beads and found objects.)

 b2ap3_thumbnail_Beltane-altar-closeup.jpg

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Friday evening I drove to Point Reyes Station to hear David Abram give a talk.  Ever since I had read his first book, The Spell of the Sensuous,  Abram has been on my shortest list of authors to read, reread, and recommend to anyone I meet. Including you, dear reader. (But unless you are a serious student of philosophy, skip chapter 2.) It was particularly fitting that I could hear him just a few days before Earth Day.

As a graduate student, Abram hoped his skills as a sleight of hand magician, and consequent heightened appreciation for how perception worked, would give him special entry into the worlds of traditional shamans.  He traveled to Indonesia and Nepal to do his research, and found they were indeed interested. He also, as he put it, got in way “over my head.”

His second book, Becoming Animal,  delves more deeply into the implications raised by his first, but for Earth day in some ways Spell of the Sensuous is the most important.  (See here for my review of Becoming Animal.  )

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An altar is one of those basic necessities within Hellenismos, and it differs from a shrine. Where an altar is a 'work space', dedicated not so much to a specific deity, but used to do the bulk of the (daily) rituals, a shrine is a devotional area where an altar might be located. In ancient Hellas, the shrine was usually a temple, the altar an actual altar, standing outside of it. Household worship took place at a multitude of shrines.

Labeling something a shrine, does not mean you can't sacrifice at these spots in your home; every Hene Kai Nea and Noumenia, I offer libations of mixed wine and incense at my shrine to Apollon, Hermes and Hekate, every Noumenia, I offer mixed wine and incense to Zeus Kthesios at His shrine in my kitchen, and ever Agathós Daímōn, I make a libation of unmixed wine at His shrine. As explained previously, I don't have an outdoor altar; I have one indoors, and it also houses my continual flame to Hestia. It's at this shrine I do the bulk of my worship--it's my hearth. It has my offering bowl, and is very deity-neutral, just to make sure everyone I give sacrifice to might feel at home at it. It's located in my bedroom shrine--the actual space, decorated and kept clean for the Theoi.

My altar is not the altar the ancient Hellens would have used. For one, it's not outside--something I'm grateful for as it's snowing outside at the moment--and for another, it's not made of stone. I don't make a fire on top of it--a good thing, seeing as it's made of wood--but have to use a bowl to do so. In ancient Hellas, an altar was called a 'bômos' (βωμός)--properly signifying any elevation--with an 'epipuron' (ἐπίπυρον)--a movable pan or brazier--used on top of the bômos so it could serve as an altar for burnt-offerings. The household hearth was used to make sacrifices as well, and thus served as an altar of sorts. It was named after the Theia of the home and hearth: 'hestía' (ἑστία). Some state-owned altars--especially when they were simply large fires--were named 'hestía' as well.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Gold and Red..Imbolc is Coming

We spent part of the afternoon at Mother Grove rearranging the entry room--a tiny space I call the "lounge." We moved the coffee-and-tea tables onto another wall and covered them in some plain black fabric. Looks sleek and modern.

Since there were several of us playing interior designer, a couple of us started stripping the main altar and replacing tealights on the other three.  The Ancestors had been exiled in their niche, covered with a black lace veil with no candles or wine or treats and it was also time to open up their area and fill their goblet and out a little something sweet on their plate.

It's time now to move all the Brigid stuff from the South altar and honor our gold-red Woman.  We're big on our Bridey at Mother Grove--She's one of the reasons we decided to work on creating a Goddess temple here.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

The path towards what we consider Sacred, towards what we consider Magic, can vary greatly from Pagan to Pagan; for some, big altars make them feel connected and empowered, while others prefer a much simpler, zen-type reminder of their beliefs, or even no altar at all; some Pagans are truly transformed by wearing ritual clothing, while others worship in jeans and a t-shirt, and others don't consider worship a need at all; all of them can be equally true ways to grow as a human being, which I think, in the end, that it's the only important thing.

For me, the path towards Sacredness, towards growth, is creating. Through learning how things are made, from spinning a single thread of yarn to understanding how herbs work together to create a healing medicine, I get closer and closer to Spiritual balance, to inner peace, to my idea of serving Nature and the Spirits that live in it, to mysticism and unity.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Carolina Gonzalez
    Carolina Gonzalez says #
    Thanks so much Taylor!
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    I look forward to reading your blog. I do a lot of work with art and magic as well.

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