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Author Topic: Not so obvious altars?  (Read 1535 times)

MayaPapaya

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Not so obvious altars?
« on: September 30, 2015, 09:58:40 pm »
I know there is an altar thread, and there are some amazing and beautiful altars on there! But how do you go about creating an altar that isn't *obviously* an altar. For example, using geodes, stones, perhaps incense. I guess a more organic, non-traditional altar.

I don't know where to start if I'm not going by the template of "this element goes toward the north, this goes on the right..." If you build a non-traditional type altar, do you follow a set of rules? Do you start with a purpose and go from there?

Also, I'm pantheistic, so I'm not building an altar for a specific deity, should I use the elements as a basis?

Thanks in advance.

DawningFox

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Re: Not so obvious altars?
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2015, 11:26:52 am »
Quote from: MayaPapaya;180573
I know there is an altar thread, and there are some amazing and beautiful altars on there! But how do you go about creating an altar that isn't *obviously* an altar. For example, using geodes, stones, perhaps incense. I guess a more organic, non-traditional altar.

I don't know where to start if I'm not going by the template of "this element goes toward the north, this goes on the right..." If you build a non-traditional type altar, do you follow a set of rules? Do you start with a purpose and go from there?

Also, I'm pantheistic, so I'm not building an altar for a specific deity, should I use the elements as a basis?

Thanks in advance.

 
If you´re looking for a more discrete or quicker setup/travel altar, stones are always a good start, they´re easy to gather and pack up/organize. I personally always use incense for the air element, but! feathers (actual feathers, not novelty) are also a good substitute when the need calls for it.

MayaPapaya

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Re: Not so obvious altars?
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2015, 04:32:12 pm »
Quote from: DawningFox;180593
If you´re looking for a more discrete or quicker setup/travel altar, stones are always a good start, they´re easy to gather and pack up/organize. I personally always use incense for the air element, but! feathers (actual feathers, not novelty) are also a good substitute when the need calls for it.

 
Thank you for your reply! I'm thinking something along the lines of a geode stone or my amethyst, a candle, an incense holder, and something for water....maybe a shell? But putting it on the fireplace mantle and making it look like household decor.

DawningFox

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Re: Not so obvious altars?
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2015, 09:52:51 pm »
Quote from: MayaPapaya;180606
Thank you for your reply! I'm thinking something along the lines of a geode stone or my amethyst, a candle, an incense holder, and something for water....maybe a shell? But putting it on the fireplace mantle and making it look like household decor.

 
A shell is a good idea, or perhaps sediment from a local or favored water source? In an ornate jar. A mantle is a good place to have one, stable, high up from people bumping into it & such. You already have a good idea there going! :D:

Tana

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Re: Not so obvious altars?
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2015, 05:57:27 am »
Quote from: MayaPapaya;180573

Also, I'm pantheistic, so I'm not building an altar for a specific deity, should I use the elements as a basis?


You might want to find out first, what's important to you in such an altar.
Do you want a little reminder for yourself, that the divine is present? A place to make a quick re-connection in passing? Or a shrine to give little offerings?

Anything could be an altar. I don't think you need or should limit yourself by rules. Be creative! Creativity is after all the expression of the creative forces of the universe.
You like stones (man, I *love* stones, have a bazillion of them), do something aesthetically pleasing with them. You like shells? Put them there. Or paint a picture, make as statue - make art in any form.

I am sure, you'll think of something great. :)
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MayaPapaya

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Re: Not so obvious altars?
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2015, 08:06:40 am »
Quote from: Tana;180632
You might want to find out first, what's important to you in such an altar.
Do you want a little reminder for yourself, that the divine is present? A place to make a quick re-connection in passing? Or a shrine to give little offerings?

Anything could be an altar. I don't think you need or should limit yourself by rules. Be creative! Creativity is after all the expression of the creative forces of the universe.
You like stones (man, I *love* stones, have a bazillion of them), do something aesthetically pleasing with them. You like shells? Put them there. Or paint a picture, make as statue - make art in any form.

I am sure, you'll think of something great. :)


Thank you! This actually helps a lot. I appreciate your input.

MayaPapaya

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Re: Not so obvious altars?
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2015, 08:07:29 am »
Quote from: DawningFox;180623
A shell is a good idea, or perhaps sediment from a local or favored water source? In an ornate jar. A mantle is a good place to have one, stable, high up from people bumping into it & such. You already have a good idea there going! :D:


Thank you! I hope I come up with something soon.

Kylara

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Re: Not so obvious altars?
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2015, 09:11:11 am »
Quote from: Tana;180632
You might want to find out first, what's important to you in such an altar.
Do you want a little reminder for yourself, that the divine is present? A place to make a quick re-connection in passing? Or a shrine to give little offerings?

Anything could be an altar. I don't think you need or should limit yourself by rules. Be creative! Creativity is after all the expression of the creative forces of the universe.
You like stones (man, I *love* stones, have a bazillion of them), do something aesthetically pleasing with them. You like shells? Put them there. Or paint a picture, make as statue - make art in any form.

I am sure, you'll think of something great. :)

 
I think this is a really good point:  what does the altar mean to you.  I have a little altar space set up on my desk (I have a huge corner monstrosity, and it has this little shelf over my monitor) that I originally thought of as a secondary altar.  I have what I consider my primary altar in the bedroom, but my husband works odd hours, so some days he is sleeping and I can't go in there.  But over the years, my desk altar has become more of a 'throughout the day touchstone to the divine'...someplace I look at many, many times during the day.  

I started with candles, and they are purely for the representations (I am very nervous about lighting candles on top of my computer, so these candles never get lit unless I move them elsewhere).  I have also added small statues, some that I have bought or been gifted, and some that I have made (with sculpy or salt-dough).  There are stones, and right now bones.  Also a tarot card from last years Day of the Dead festival, and the rune-dice I use for my daily rune draw.

I wasn't overly methodical about how I built this altar.  I didn't really follow any of the 'rules' for how altars should be set up.  I just went with my own sense of balance:  I put there what I felt needed to be there, and from time to time I will look at it and move things, add things or remove things.
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MayaPapaya

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Re: Not so obvious altars?
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2015, 09:31:16 am »
Quote from: Kylara;180642
I think this is a really good point:  what does the altar mean to you.  I have a little altar space set up on my desk (I have a huge corner monstrosity, and it has this little shelf over my monitor) that I originally thought of as a secondary altar.  I have what I consider my primary altar in the bedroom, but my husband works odd hours, so some days he is sleeping and I can't go in there.  But over the years, my desk altar has become more of a 'throughout the day touchstone to the divine'...someplace I look at many, many times during the day.  

I started with candles, and they are purely for the representations (I am very nervous about lighting candles on top of my computer, so these candles never get lit unless I move them elsewhere).  I have also added small statues, some that I have bought or been gifted, and some that I have made (with sculpy or salt-dough).  There are stones, and right now bones.  Also a tarot card from last years Day of the Dead festival, and the rune-dice I use for my daily rune draw.

I wasn't overly methodical about how I built this altar.  I didn't really follow any of the 'rules' for how altars should be set up.  I just went with my own sense of balance:  I put there what I felt needed to be there, and from time to time I will look at it and move things, add things or remove things.


That sounds wonderful! I want to have a space that I see regularly and the fireplace in the living room is kind of the center of our daily family lives.
I'm not sure if I'll do rituals there or not, I guess we'll see.

I bet your desk altar is powerful.

Jenett

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Re: Not so obvious altars?
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2015, 11:11:25 am »
Quote from: MayaPapaya;180573

I don't know where to start if I'm not going by the template of "this element goes toward the north, this goes on the right..." If you build a non-traditional type altar, do you follow a set of rules? Do you start with a purpose and go from there?

 
Been sort of swamped the past few days, but wanted to come back and point out that there's a difference between an altar and a shrine, in many paths, and that might help you sort out what you want.

The way I define them, an altar is both a working tool and a working space: therefore, you want to have the other tools that you wish to use (whatever they are) laid out in a way that makes sense for the work you're going to do, so that when you want your whatever-tool, you know just where to put your hand, and you've worked out that if you put the thing with wine in it here, you won't risk tipping it over when you reach for the thing there, and that if you put the candle back over here, you won't set your sleeve on fire when you're reaching for that other thing.

Some of it's symbolic (for example, paths that work with a male and female deity, the altar is often divided in half with their symbols and related polarity. Paths that focus on turning the wheel sometimes do a circular altar in the center of the room, with an 8th of the circle representing each Sabbat, like a pie). Some of it's usually very practical. Some of it, if you're working in a tradition with other people, is so that everyone knows where the things are, and it doesn't change every time. If you're working on your own, that part matters less.

(Also, in paths that use altars as an explicit tool, it's less common for an altar to be set up all the time, or if it is, it's a 'these are the things I use for daily devotions/practices, not the full ritual set' and a different layout, because it's serving a different purpose.)

Shrines, on the other hand, are a lot more fluid and flexible. They don't necessarily need to convey the whole set of symbols in one place. You could have a shrine for the hearth and food in the kitchen, you could have a shrine for cleansing and refreshing by your bathtub, you could have an ancestor shrine in your living room, a shrine to deities or entities or archetypes you are focusing on in your bedroom. And each shrine could just have a couple of objects, or a few dozen, depending, where altars tend to be a little more limited because of the size and shape of tools.

I moved about 4 months ago, and I still am contemplating more shrines, but I have a main one up in my bedroom that holds most of my jewelry and a few smaller religious items - no specific deity iconography right now, no formal display of the elements, just stuff that's personally meaningful.
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MayaPapaya

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Re: Not so obvious altars?
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2015, 07:58:53 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;180648


Shrines, on the other hand, are a lot more fluid and flexible. They don't necessarily need to convey the whole set of symbols in one place. You could have a shrine for the hearth and food in the kitchen, you could have a shrine for cleansing and refreshing by your bathtub, you could have an ancestor shrine in your living room, a shrine to deities or entities or archetypes you are focusing on in your bedroom. And each shrine could just have a couple of objects, or a few dozen, depending, where altars tend to be a little more limited because of the size and shape of tools.

 
Ok, I'd never seen the two terms differentiated and described quite like that, but it makes so much sense. NICE! Thanks you :D

other-wise

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Re: Not so obvious altars?
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2015, 12:55:18 pm »
Quote from: Tana;180632
You might want to find out first, what's important to you in such an altar.
Do you want a little reminder for yourself, that the divine is present? A place to make a quick re-connection in passing? Or a shrine to give little offerings?

 
I also think this is a really important point. If your sacred space is aligned with your personal intention and tastes, most folks won't think twice about it.

My altar is unintentionally discreet. I tend to be drawn to natural objects like stones, shells and plants as well as figurines and small animal toys...so those are what comprise my altar space, but also what are tucked onto shelves and corners in other parts of my apartment. Most guests who aren't expecting to see an altar don't even recognize it as one, but just as a nicely curated set of objects.

I use corresponding natural elements and toy animals to represent the elements and current season. I also keep most of my working tools in a wooden box on my altar to keep things less cluttered for daily use, which lends an element of discretion (and ensuring that no one else handles my tools).

I like to leave my offerings in a small mortar and pestle, which is an ordinary enough object - but have also heard of people leaving offerings in a more private receptacle like a small decorative container.

Best of luck building your altar!

LunaStar

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Re: Not so obvious altars?
« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2015, 07:35:00 pm »
Quote from: MayaPapaya;180573
I know there is an altar thread, and there are some amazing and beautiful altars on there! But how do you go about creating an altar that isn't *obviously* an altar. For example, using geodes, stones, perhaps incense. I guess a more organic, non-traditional altar.

I don't know where to start if I'm not going by the template of "this element goes toward the north, this goes on the right..." If you build a non-traditional type altar, do you follow a set of rules? Do you start with a purpose and go from there?

Also, I'm pantheistic, so I'm not building an altar for a specific deity, should I use the elements as a basis?

Thanks in advance.


I like to place crystals and plants on my window sills for not-so-obvious altars, though I believe they are very powerful because they harvest sun and moonlight regularly.  Also, if you have a garden that is an excellent place to create discrete altars.

Freesia

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Re: Not so obvious altars?
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2015, 12:28:07 am »
Quote from: MayaPapaya;180573

I'm pantheistic, so I'm not building an altar for a specific deity, should I use the elements as a basis?

Thanks in advance.

 
My altar is in a small letter desk that opens up so I set it up each time I use it. I haven't used it in a while because I like the kitchen table.I plan on cleaning out a cupboard in the kitchen for a kitchen shrine. That way I can keep my altar supplies there instead of shuffle them around. However, my husband's mother likes to help out if she comes in to watch the kids and she tends to rearrange the kitchen when she's over. If I make a cat theme shrine she'll never know what it really is.  

The top of my piano has become a pantheist shrine with fossils, stones, clay bowls that my husband made, and other odd bits that find there way up there. Over the piano is an old painting we got as a wedding present of a cabin in the mountains. That's our dream house.

I thought of starting with the elements, but instead the focus was on ancestors with the fossils as representations.

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