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Author Topic: Altar Position and Feeling Lost  (Read 1341 times)

Stormy

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Altar Position and Feeling Lost
« on: July 27, 2015, 07:09:59 pm »
I am very new to the practice and I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I'm alone in my research and I've had trouble finding answers.

I am slowly finding and buying items for my first altar and was having trouble finding an appropriate area. I've read about altars facing north, with the top of the pentacle pointing north, unfortunately with my setup the altar would be facing north with the top point pointing south. Is this setup okay and could I simply move the altar to the floor facing the proper way everytime I'm going to do my work? (the altar would be on a bookshelf attached to my bed so I have to be on my bed if I were going to use it there.)

I have also been feeling quite lost as I do not know which deity I truly connect with. My whole life I had been raised Catholic so I always had someone to 'follow', now I feel more connected to the elements, the universe, and nature. Animals, the forests, and the moon especially. I'm not sure if following a specific goddess would work with me because I'd be too wary that I was not worshiping her in the 'correct' way or keeping up with specific rituals.  

Was finding a deity or perhaps not finding one at all difficult for others? How does one go about having an altar or doing spells/rituals without a goddess or god? What would I possibly put at the point of my altar for "spirit" if I decide nature as a whole is who I connect with?

elysium

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Re: Altar Position and Feeling Lost
« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2015, 07:27:56 pm »
Hi Stormy,  there's no 'wrong' direction for your altar, many people have their altars pointing north but you can point your altar any way you need to. I live in a very crowded basement apartment and my altar is facing a wonky north east. People orient their altars to different degrees to achieve different correspondances. If you're dealing with earth energy when working magic, you can orient your altar north to tap into some earth energy.  The orientation can change per spell if you have a mobile altar. It's all about what feels right.

As for your Goddess searching, doing some research might help you connect with a specific Goddess. Again there's no real 'right and wrong', some people actually change Goddesses and Gods as their lives change. I personally follow  the Greek pantheon, and I felt I was 'called' to the God Hades during a siezure. But don't worry you don't need to go through a scary experience like I did to find the right path. Maybe you'll be reading up on some mythology and you'll get a little tingle in your spine etc.
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Re: Altar Position and Feeling Lost
« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2015, 08:08:49 pm »
Quote from: Stormy;177855

I am slowly finding and buying items for my first altar and was having trouble finding an appropriate area. I've read about altars facing north, with the top of the pentacle pointing north, unfortunately with my setup the altar would be facing north with the top point pointing south. Is this setup okay and could I simply move the altar to the floor facing the proper way everytime I'm going to do my work? (the altar would be on a bookshelf attached to my bed so I have to be on my bed if I were going to use it there.)


There are lots of arguments about where to put an altar, and many of them depend on the underlying symbology of your ritual workings.

For example, many specific witchcraft traditions put the altar in the north because north is the element for earth in those traditions, the altar is the group tool of earth (as a staff is air, a cauldron is water, a sword is fire, though there are other variants out there). Some traditions put the altar in the center, often with specific layouts to direct and focus particular energies or goals.

However, you might want to take a step back, and consider some other things. Many people have a shrine (which is not just for deities) for small daily devotional acts, and then set up a separate altar for the duration of their working.

Some people do this on top of a chest or box or portable table, for example. Some people do it on the floor, though be very careful of that if you have candles. This can often be a very effective method of dealing with limited space, or a space that is not ideally aligned to the directions for every day work.

My current shrine faces east, because that is a convenient place to put it in my current apartment, and if I were doing formal ritual, I'd move things around and make the actual altar space in the north, where my particular tradition wants it for specific reasons. (I haven't actually done full blown trad-based ritual in this apartment since I moved in a couple of months ago.)

I've got some more thoughts on altars and shrines on my website, which has a lot of other info you might also find helpful in figuring out specific practices - the altar page is at http://gleewood.org/seeking/practices/altars-and-shrines/.

Quote

Was finding a deity or perhaps not finding one at all difficult for others? How does one go about having an altar or doing spells/rituals without a goddess or god? What would I possibly put at the point of my altar for "spirit" if I decide nature as a whole is who I connect with?

 
In my training, there were deities who were invited to group rituals, but we also went through a series of exercise to help us get familiar with a wide range of deities - partly because that often helped people develop a closer relatonship or interaction with one, and partly because if you're going to community events (as was also part of our training - we were somewhere with a sizeable Pagan community and regular public Sabbats), it's sort of handy to have a nodding acquaintance with the deities who come up a lot.

The end of the altar and shrine page I linked aboe has links to the two deity learning pages on my site.

Witchcraft has lots of applications - but you may find that the models that use more formal ritual make less sense if you are stepping away from deity-centered practice (for a variety of reasons, which I can probably try and explain, but probably not tonight.) Mostly, though, you might want to look for resources that are more about other forms of practice than Wicca. (I would suggest, for example, Marion Green's "A Witch Alone" as a possible starting place for you.)
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RecycledBenedict

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Re: Altar Position and Feeling Lost
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2015, 08:14:11 am »
Quote from: Stormy;177855
I am very new to the practice and I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I'm alone in my research and I've had trouble finding answers.

I am slowly finding and buying items for my first altar and was having trouble finding an appropriate area. I've read about altars facing north, with the top of the pentacle pointing north, unfortunately with my setup the altar would be facing north with the top point pointing south. Is this setup okay and could I simply move the altar to the floor facing the proper way everytime I'm going to do my work? (the altar would be on a bookshelf attached to my bed so I have to be on my bed if I were going to use it there.)

I have also been feeling quite lost as I do not know which deity I truly connect with. My whole life I had been raised Catholic so I always had someone to 'follow', now I feel more connected to the elements, the universe, and nature. Animals, the forests, and the moon especially. I'm not sure if following a specific goddess would work with me because I'd be too wary that I was not worshiping her in the 'correct' way or keeping up with specific rituals.  

Was finding a deity or perhaps not finding one at all difficult for others? How does one go about having an altar or doing spells/rituals without a goddess or god? What would I possibly put at the point of my altar for "spirit" if I decide nature as a whole is who I connect with?


You don't need to use an existing pantheon or use traditional names of deities, if you are not drawn to do so. Why not just talk to Mother Nature, Moon, Forest, Air, Earth, Water and Fire just like this?

If you are interested in philosophy, try to find out if your worldview is Pantheist, Panentheist, Pandeist or Panendeist.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is worthy of reading at least once.

The Stoics (Cleanthes, for instance) personified Nature as Zeus, but during the Imperial Age the goddess Physis became more important in this regard. In the Chaldean Oracles, the Soul of Nature is not the Supreme Being, but part of a chain of existence.

The Unitarian Universalists sometimes use the phrase Spirit of life, a way of speaking even Agnostics feel comfortable with.

Some pagan religions prefer to put the altar in the direction symbolising Earth. Although North is the most commonly used direction for this symbolic purpose (due to the climate in Egypt 2000 years ago), in some systems South (because of the Zodiac) or West (because it is the opposite of East/Air) symbolises Earth. Which system do you feel comfortable with, and which makes sense for you?

Someone else mentioned an altar in the middle of the room, symbolising Spirit.

It is not unknown among some esoteric orders with two altars: One between West and Centre, one close to the East.

Some persons have two altars: One for devotional-contemplative purposes and one for intercession and magic. The altars are placed according to the symbolism the practitioners have chosen to make use of.

veggiewolf

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Re: Altar Position and Feeling Lost
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2015, 11:08:23 am »
Quote from: elysium;177856
Hi Stormy,  there's no 'wrong' direction for your altar, many people have their altars pointing north but you can point your altar any way you need to. I live in a very crowded basement apartment and my altar is facing a wonky north east. People orient their altars to different degrees to achieve different correspondances. If you're dealing with earth energy when working magic, you can orient your altar north to tap into some earth energy.  The orientation can change per spell if you have a mobile altar. It's all about what feels right.

As for your Goddess searching, doing some research might help you connect with a specific Goddess. Again there's no real 'right and wrong', some people actually change Goddesses and Gods as their lives change. I personally follow  the Greek pantheon, and I felt I was 'called' to the God Hades during a siezure. But don't worry you don't need to go through a scary experience like I did to find the right path. Maybe you'll be reading up on some mythology and you'll get a little tingle in your spine etc.

 
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Re: Altar Position and Feeling Lost
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2015, 11:26:51 am »
Quote from: Stormy;177855
I am very new to the practice and I'm trying to learn as much as I can. I'm alone in my research and I've had trouble finding answers.

I am slowly finding and buying items for my first altar and was having trouble finding an appropriate area. I've read about altars facing north, with the top of the pentacle pointing north, unfortunately with my setup the altar would be facing north with the top point pointing south. Is this setup okay and could I simply move the altar to the floor facing the proper way everytime I'm going to do my work? (the altar would be on a bookshelf attached to my bed so I have to be on my bed if I were going to use it there.)

I have also been feeling quite lost as I do not know which deity I truly connect with. My whole life I had been raised Catholic so I always had someone to 'follow', now I feel more connected to the elements, the universe, and nature. Animals, the forests, and the moon especially. I'm not sure if following a specific goddess would work with me because I'd be too wary that I was not worshiping her in the 'correct' way or keeping up with specific rituals.  

Was finding a deity or perhaps not finding one at all difficult for others? How does one go about having an altar or doing spells/rituals without a goddess or god? What would I possibly put at the point of my altar for "spirit" if I decide nature as a whole is who I connect with?

 
I have had altars facing many different directions over the years.  I too, started out trying to orient to north, but in some places I have lived that simply isn't possible.  For example, in my college dorm, it was a round building so our rooms were sort of pie slice shaped (with the point cut off), and none of the walls faced any particular direction.  Right now, my altar is in the south side of my bedroom.  I have also had times where I had no permanent altar, and just brought out my things when I needed them, and then set up my 'altar' wherever I wanted.

I definitely fall into the 'go with what works for you' camp.  Open yourself up to what you feel (and try to let go of what you have been told or what you think you should feel).  Let yourself consider your altar where it is and see how it makes you feel.  How do you feel when you work at it?  If something feels off, change it up until it feels right.  And don't be surprised if it feels right for a while, then starts to change...because you change!  I have had things set in one place for a long time, then one day it just doesn't feel right anymore and I have to change it.

As for deities, when I started, I did really want to work with particular deities, but I also wasn't sure who.  Most of my early rituals worked with the elements and the Lord and Lady (or God and Goddess...I used both terminologies).  Basically I worked with the divine feminine and masculine, and read up on other, more specific deities.  As I found deities I resonated with, I did more reading and started to work with them in actual rituals and meditations.  Some have stuck with me, some I haven't worked with in years.
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