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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in home altars
We're the Keepers of the Flame: Hestia's Hearth Altar

Vesta is the Roman cognate of the revered Greek goddess, Hestia, “first of all divinities to be invoked” in classical rituals. In Greece, they had public hearths called prytaneums that came under the domain of the most revered Hestia, protector of “all innermost things,” according to the great philosopher Pythagoras, who also claimed that her altar fire was the center of the earth. The altar of Vesta in classical Rome was tended by the Vestal Virgins and was also believed to be the very center of the earth. The insignia for the goddess Vesta was an altar table with flames at both ends, forming the Greek letter “pi,” which is the numerological symbol for the Pythagorean sect.

 The Vestal Virgins were the keepers of Rome’s eternal flame. It was believed that if the fire of Vesta’s altar went out, the Roman Empire would fall. In the fourth century, C.E., Christians extinguished the vestal fire and began the process of erasing pagan religions and symbols.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The anything goes altar...

An altar is a very personal thing and I firmly believe that unless you follow a strict tradition that sets the layout for you that you should ‘go with the flow’ with your altar and put things on it that your intuition guides you to.

An altar doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to be fancy, just a vase of flowers on a window sill is good enough to be a focal point for your altar.

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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
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 Culture Blogs
Keeper of the Samhain List

Each year, sometime in the early part of November, a scrap of paper appears on my home altar.  On it is a single name of someone I know--or the parent or partner or child or sibling of someone I know. It's the first and last name, usually. 

That's the beginning of the Samhain list.

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