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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Altars

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Altars #ThePaganExperience

Keeping altars is probably one of the most consistent things we do as Pagans in our personal practice; though "altars" (and if you insist on using this word, please spell it with an "A"; "alters" is a process of forcing change) would not technically be the correct word.  What we keep are actually "shrines," places where we make images of the Divine and our spiritual practice, worship and make offering.

b2ap3_thumbnail_2015-01-16-11.03.20.jpgI keep an awful lot of altars myself.  My household altar is now located in the centerpiece of my living room, which is a beautiful mirrored china cabinet gifted to me by my mother-in-law.  It contains my ritual tools, statues of the Deities appropriate to the time of year, antlers to honour the Horned God, pine cones to honour the Earth Goddess.  The image you see at the top of the page is the central top shelf of my household altar, which currently is adorned with the pentacle of my tradition (which I'm pretty proud of; it's solid copper and was handmade by one of our founders, Mistress Leia,) an image of Osiris (to symbolize the God who was dead and is now reborn,) and the Star Goddess (which was a white clay figurine I purchased and then painted.)  In the center you'll find my personal pentacle (handmade by me,) a terra cotta incense burner with a turtle (placed there for feng shui value and also for a Terry Pratchett reference,) my Moon Crown (purchased several years ago from Lobelia's Lair in Nanaimo) and behind these, underneath the tradition's pentacle, my wand (also handmade with a lot of personal symbolism I don't care to publicly share at this time.)

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    I think you and I (and probably myriad other pagans too) are on the same page when it comes to altars - Lovely piece. http://witc

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_va1.jpgWithin Vanatru, there is a lot of room for diversity of belief and practice - nature itself is diverse, and thus different ways of doing things are seen as natural and organic, as befits a living tradition.  As such, there is no Vanapope who will swoop down from on high proclaiming that you're "doing it wrong" if you don't do this or have that.  However, the very "do it yourself" approach amongst most Vanatruar can be confusing and even frustrating for newbies, who are full of questions about how to get started.

One of the things that I tend to recommend people do when they first start out, is set up an altar.  This is not mandatory or absolutely necessary - I know plenty of folks who get along just fine without altars.  In my own case, having an altar is helpful because it's a visible, tangible reminder of the Powers, is a way to express Their energy and presence - which can be a tool to better get to know Them and connect with Them - and is a place to leave offerings and perform rituals and magick.  And as such, I think that building an altar can be a valuable beginning step, a way to establish a connection to the Powers.  

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Altars - A ritual in the making

I recently wrote a piece about Pagan tattoos. Hundreds of people posted pictures of their artwork and many more folks told the stories of how those designs came about and why they were so compelled to etch them indelibly into their skin.

And this got me thinking - Tattoos are altars, of a kind. They are permanent representations of a moment or a belief or a particular rite of passage. These permanent, personal altars are like touchstones to those important times. In most cases, they are carefully thought out. They are planned. The placement, the design, the colours, the images and the symbols are all considered. Then there's the actual "building of the altar" itself.

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  • Linette
    Linette says #
    A number of years ago I taught a class on altars. Many of the participants said they had no idea where to begin with an altar, or
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Linette - Yes. So much this. I love the simple, everyday altars that we all instinctively create.
  • Asa West
    Asa West says #
    This post is lovely. Thank you! When I first read it, I thought, "well, I only have one altar in my house--my working altar." But
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Hello Asa, I think that's it exactly. I realized that I have even more altars than I thought. There are several in the front and
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Oh Elizabeth, it makes a great deal of sense! What a treasure that altar is and such a brilliant way to highlight that altars are

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Of Ancestors and Devotion

So here I am at Samhain-tide again. Like many Pagans this is the "big one", our month when we get to be as witchy as we want and it goes mostly unnoticed because everyone out there in the Western world is hanging up skeletons and foam cut outs of owls and black cats.

It's also the month where I find myself running from pillar to post, organizing and priestessing all sorts of Samhain-related events. As is often the case, I'm part of the organising team for the 35th annual Reclaiming Spiral Dance in San Francisco. I'll be part of North Bay Reclaiming's Samhain ritual and this year I'll be at a four day retreat in the Mendocino Woodlands called "Mysteries of Samhain". I'm fortunate to be a busy witch.

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Thank you Annika - It's that lovely liminal space, you know. Not this. Not that. Now
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    Thanks for the post. I love this season, too, especially the fact that I sometimes pass as "normal" during this time. Also fascina

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Bastet-188x269.jpg

We stroked his head and ran our hands along his body. He purred. We looked at him directly in the eyes and we sang songs. He purred. We told him of mice and birds and long summer days that would not end. He purred. We held him close, so very close, as the needle pierced his skin. The purring stopped. 

The last few days have been filled with tears and with fond remembrances of our dear cat, Bear Claw. He lived for almost twenty years. I have children that have never known a time before Bear Claw. Simply put, he was part of our family.

I spent the last year of his life as a care giver of sorts. As his health failed, I cleaned up after him. I helped him up to his favourite perches around the house. I carried him out into the warm sun on my shoulders and made sure his "apartment" was warm and comfortable. He and I spoke about how and when his life would end. We had an agreement that when the good days were outnumbered by the bad days, we'd part ways mercifully and quickly.

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  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Thank you Archer - As an update, Bear Claw's ashes are now on our Beloved Dead altar. Seems that there's more for us to do with ou
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    I appreciate the insight that animals have something of the divine in them--consider how they survive, thrive, communicate and mig
  • Gwion Raven
    Gwion Raven says #
    Thank you Francesca. How lovely and fascinating that our work in the world seems so much in alignment. Life, with all of its wonde
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Indeed, indeed!
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Sorry to hear of yr loss. Blessings on yr family and departed kitty. I read your bio here. It sounds exactly like what I have tau
PaganNewsBeagle Earthy Thursday August 21

It's Earthy Thursday, full of stories that emphasize our connection with Mama Gaia. We've got a giant volcano stirring, tiny altars, drawing strength from Nature, cleaning up after gatherings, fossilized forest fires, and indigenous farmers meeting to plan for climate change. Have a great Thursday!

What's an Earthy Thursday without a report of a huge volcano in Iceland threatening to erupt? Well, if you haven't heard of (Anglicized spelling) Bardarbunga yet, check out the story here. (Includes two great slideshows of previous Icelandic eruptions.)

Why we should have little altars everywhere. (Hint, its to connect with both inner peace and Mother Earth.)

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  • Tara Miller
    Tara Miller says #
    Thanks, Ann, for mentioning my article "Drawing Strength from Nature" at the Staff of Asclepius. There will be two more articles s
Creating Sacred Space with Pagan Prison Inmates – IV

Altars

As I mentioned in a previous post, our altar went from a 24” square of white cloth with two pillar candles, a leather pentacle about 4” across, a stick of incense, a bowl and a shaker of salt to one with larger purple altar cloth bearing a Celtic design, an abalone shell, some feathers, and a chunk of amethyst crystal.

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