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Author Topic: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side  (Read 7226 times)

Liadine (dragonflyeyes)

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Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« on: February 13, 2015, 10:13:08 am »
I'm in the process of setting up my altars/shrines again after a move, which got me wondering how other people set things up in a practical sense. I can't stand for long periods of time, and kneeling is out, so ideally I'd have everything at a good height for sitting in front of in a chair. Something about that feels a little off, though, and I'm not sure why.

So, the practical side of things:
- Do you sit, stand, or kneel? What would be ideal?
- Do you prefer to have your altar/shrines at a certain height?
- Do you have storage for bits and pieces you don't currently use?
- If you do work at your altar (magical, crafting, etc), is your altar big enough to work at easily, or do you have extra space (like a table) which is functionally part of the altar?

Any other thoughts are also welcome!
We owe it to each other to tell stories [Neil Gaiman]
night's a good herd [my religious tumblr]

Jainarayan

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Re: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2015, 10:58:38 am »
Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933
I'm in the process of setting up my altars/shrines again after a move, which got me wondering how other people set things up in a practical sense. I can't stand for long periods of time, and kneeling is out, so ideally I'd have everything at a good height for sitting in front of in a chair. Something about that feels a little off, though, and I'm not sure why.

So, the practical side of things:
- Do you sit, stand, or kneel? What would be ideal?
- Do you prefer to have your altar/shrines at a certain height?
- Do you have storage for bits and pieces you don't currently use?
- If you do work at your altar (magical, crafting, etc), is your altar big enough to work at easily, or do you have extra space (like a table) which is functionally part of the altar?

Any other thoughts are also welcome!

 
My altar table is about waist high. It's a set of plastic storage shelves covered with a white cotton table cloth that hangs down. On the second shelf, covered by the cloth is where I keep my incense, cups, bowls, candle holders, beer and ale (yes, I use them at room temp.),  etc. I would like a real table that has doors and a drawer, but that's down the road. On the altar itself is a bottle of mead, a statue of Thor, my drinking horn I use for offerings, a candle, incense holder, my seax (dagger), hammer, small picture of my parents, and a small decorative tree representing my family tree and ancestors, my small box of runes. The table top is about 21" x 21". Everything pretty much stays in place during my worship, except of course the horn which I drink from, so I don't really need work room.

I stand, but I don't spend more than 5 or 10 minutes at a time there. In the morning it's probably 1-2, just to greet the day and the Gods and put on my hammer. At night when I offer a drink, I spend a little more time with prayers and just being there. Occasionally at other times I just stand there for a few moments, or when I pass, I make the hammer over my heart and nod my head..

In Ásatrú there are discussions of just how the Norse prayed... did they stand, did they kneel, did they bow... ? etc. No one really knows. I stand, arms open, but then I get down on one knee, right fist over my chest (clenched fist and arm looks like a hammer), bow my head and say a few words of my own, or I just stay like that for a few seconds without saying anything. I think Thor likes my show of reverence, but any more than that, like bowing or prostrating would probably piss him off. He's impatient with displays of subservience.

When I had a Hindu altar I tried making it on a low table, but I cannot sit on the floor. A bench or stool didn't feel right either, nor did a chair. So I stood. Even when I used to attend a Hindu temple, I stood while everyone else sat on the floor.

I think you do what is right for you, and what you think your Gods prefer.
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

Chatelaine

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Re: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2015, 08:38:21 am »
I'm no longer pagan, obviously, but very little has changed on the practical side.

Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933

- Do you sit, stand, or kneel? What would be ideal?


As a rule, I stand. My regular morning and evening devotions are 5-10 minutes, but occasionally I do reader services for feast days that may last up to 2 hours; then I alternate standing and sitting.

Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933

- Do you prefer to have your altar/shrines at a certain height?


My first permanent altar was on one corner of my desk. Later (and currently) my shrine has been living on top of a chest of drawers. I like looking slightly down at the surface, whether I'm standing or sitting, but having everything within easy reach. I'm looking forward to covering the wall above with icons, though. :)

Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933

- Do you have storage for bits and pieces you don't currently use?


The top drawer of the aforementioned chest is dedicated to my devotional equipment (candles, incense, service books, headcoverings, etc). It helps me not go overboard by buying so many candles that I'd need a second drawer. :D:

Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933

- If you do work at your altar (magical, crafting, etc), is your altar big enough to work at easily, or do you have extra space (like a table) which is functionally part of the altar?


I copy out liturgical texts by hand as a spiritual exercise. Naturally, I use my desk for that, but I have a mini shrine-space (little diptych icon and tealight) on it, so it becomes pretty much an extension of my worship corner.
'You created us restless, O Lord, and we find no rest until we rest in You.'
~St Augustine~
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Sobekemiti

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Re: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2015, 09:59:15 am »
Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933

- Do you sit, stand, or kneel? What would be ideal?


I usually stand, because I can't sit on the floor or kneel comfortably. I also don't have room to sit on a chair, either, so standing is the most ideal right now. My rituals aren't usually very long, though, so standing isn't a problem. Since my shrines are in my room, I also use my bed for meditations, because it's more comfortable.

I mean, I would totally love it if my joints would let me sit on the floor, or even kneel, so I could do henu gestures properly, but my dodgy knees + wooden floors = ow. So standing it is.

Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933

- Do you prefer to have your altar/shrines at a certain height?


Yeah, standing height. :D Well, really, any shrine that is tended has to be at a height that I can work at it. That's usually standing height, but really, as long as I can stand and work at it comfortably, that's the right height.

Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933

- Do you have storage for bits and pieces you don't currently use?


Yep, there's a space under my main shrine table where I store all my things. I have a couple of big wooden boxes, and some other assorted things, like my sewing box, and my box of beads, and a couple of other things. I also have a small squarish bookshelf in the corner beside my main shrine where I store books, files, my incense and other things I regularly use.

Because I have limited space, I do try to keep these things cleaned out so it's only the stuff I am actually using and is useful to me. It does keep things focussed, though, if there aren't the stray traces of ritual items from my (long-ago) Wiccan days, or books that aren't relevant to my practice anymore. I still have some of my old BoS things, because I think it's important to keep some things associated with my religious development, but I'm very harsh on what I do keep, because there's just no room for surplus things.

Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933

- If you do work at your altar (magical, crafting, etc), is your altar big enough to work at easily, or do you have extra space (like a table) which is functionally part of the altar?


Well, I have several shrines in my room, apart from the main shrine. I have enough space on my main shrine, small/narrow though it is, to do the work I need to do. If I ever need a larger space, I can either use my desk, or go outside, and work there, but most of the time, the space I have for each shrine reflects the work I need to do there.

Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933

Any other thoughts are also welcome!


I have noticed that the older I get, the more I dislike cluttered shrines. Part of it is limited space, but also, urgh, cluttered shrines. I need space to work, not to have ALL THE THINGS all over my working space. If there's no reason for a thing being on a shrine, it gets put away. I don't have room to keep ALL THE THINGS, either, so if it's not useful to me anymore, it gets passed on. I op shop a lot of things that way, both buying and donating. No point in keeping things I'm never going to use.
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Sophia C

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Re: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2015, 09:27:01 am »
Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933
I'm in the process of setting up my altars/shrines again after a move, which got me wondering how other people set things up in a practical sense. I can't stand for long periods of time, and kneeling is out, so ideally I'd have everything at a good height for sitting in front of in a chair. Something about that feels a little off, though, and I'm not sure why.

So, the practical side of things:
- Do you sit, stand, or kneel? What would be ideal?
- Do you prefer to have your altar/shrines at a certain height?
- Do you have storage for bits and pieces you don't currently use?
- If you do work at your altar (magical, crafting, etc), is your altar big enough to work at easily, or do you have extra space (like a table) which is functionally part of the altar?

Any other thoughts are also welcome!

It's very important to me to be able to sit. My embodiment is part of my religion, and I am trying to reaffirm my identity as a disabled person whose embodiment is welcomed by my deities, as it is. I don't need to wish I could do this or that pose for them. Self-acceptance and all that! So I drag a chair over to my altar space for worship (there's no room for one there the rest of the time). I also have a fold-up table that I can open up nearby and do readings etc without moving away from the shrine area.
"We're all stories, in the end. Make it a good one, eh?"
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Darkhawk

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Re: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2015, 01:44:48 pm »
Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933
I'm in the process of setting up my altars/shrines again after a move, which got me wondering how other people set things up in a practical sense. I can't stand for long periods of time, and kneeling is out, so ideally I'd have everything at a good height for sitting in front of in a chair. Something about that feels a little off, though, and I'm not sure why.

 
I don't have an altar.

My set-up shrines of the moment include 'a corner of the desk', 'a bookcase shelf', 'a shelf over the bed', and 'under four feet of snow unless it's drifted more than that because it's in a hollow'.  I have a notion for how I want to set up the household shrine but it hasn't been done yet, and that'll go on a counter-height table.  I need to fix the Hetharu shrine ('on top of the wardrobe') but that is part of the room-cleaning extravaganza....

For what it's work, shrines are not significant workspaces as I practice, so there's no significant question of standing/sitting/whatever in relationship to them.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
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we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Yei

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Re: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2015, 04:02:41 am »
Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933
I'm in the process of setting up my altars/shrines again after a move, which got me wondering how other people set things up in a practical sense. I can't stand for long periods of time, and kneeling is out, so ideally I'd have everything at a good height for sitting in front of in a chair. Something about that feels a little off, though, and I'm not sure why.

So, the practical side of things:
- Do you sit, stand, or kneel? What would be ideal?
- Do you prefer to have your altar/shrines at a certain height?
- Do you have storage for bits and pieces you don't currently use?
- If you do work at your altar (magical, crafting, etc), is your altar big enough to work at easily, or do you have extra space (like a table) which is functionally part of the altar?

Any other thoughts are also welcome!

 
I have actually been thinking about what the best display/storage would be best for myself. Of course seeing furniture is always different from actually using it. So far I've been using a small bookshelf with all the items on the shelves but that does not give much privacy. So I've been thinking...

Has anyone had any luck with IKEA furniture?

Sobekemiti

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Re: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2015, 04:27:40 am »
Quote from: Yei;171268
I have actually been thinking about what the best display/storage would be best for myself. Of course seeing furniture is always different from actually using it. So far I've been using a small bookshelf with all the items on the shelves but that does not give much privacy. So I've been thinking...

Has anyone had any luck with IKEA furniture?


You could do far worse than IKEA furniture, tbh. Pick up some Ivar stuff, maybe a cabinet or two with solid doors, and you could hide it all away if you don't want your stuff to be visible. Ivar has always made reliable shrines for me because it's just so customisable. I can build exactly what I need. Plus you can paint or stain it whatever colour/s you like.
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Re: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2015, 04:45:16 am »
Quote from: Yei;171268
I have actually been thinking about what the best display/storage would be best for myself. Of course seeing furniture is always different from actually using it. So far I've been using a small bookshelf with all the items on the shelves but that does not give much privacy. So I've been thinking...

Has anyone had any luck with IKEA furniture?
I've had good luck with the Expedit shelves - I know they're called something else now, with a K, but I don't recall what. I liked the cubby holes for shrine spaces.
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Re: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2015, 05:43:26 am »
Quote from: Yei;171268
Has anyone had any luck with IKEA furniture?


Yes! I have an altar cabinet from IKEA. It has three sections, all of which can be covered by cupboard doors. I've put doors on two of the sections, but one is a see-through door. It just gives enough privacy without cutting me off from my shrines entirely. The third section is my main hearth altar which I leave always open (but if I ever change my mind about that, I have a spare door I can put back on whenever I want). The versatility of IKEA furniture *really* helps with altar/shrine setup, especially if you want things closed off some of the time.

See here for a picture - sorry it's not a better pic (my carpet's being cleaned as we speak, and I can't get in the room to take a better one). Hopefully it gives you an idea!
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Re: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2015, 12:16:11 pm »
I have had a lot of altars and shrines over the year..so I'll talk about what I have going on now and then some things I have used in the past that I really liked.

Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933

- Do you sit, stand, or kneel? What would be ideal?
- Do you prefer to have your altar/shrines at a certain height?


My main altar right now is a small bookshelf, a good height for standing.  This is where I do nightly prayers.  I also have a small shelf on the top of my computer screen that is a shrine area.  I have to look up when I am sitting, but I can still see most of it (I can't see some of the shorter stones, statues or my rune dice, but I can see the rest).  This shelf is also a good height when I stand.

I tend to prefer to sit or kneel however, if I am doing a big ritual.  For something more formal/ornate, I lay down a blanket or a circle of stones or cards and do ritual in my living room or on the bed.  Everything I need gets moved to where I want it, then put away after.

Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933

- Do you have storage for bits and pieces you don't currently use?


Definitely!  I have things stored all over actually.  My main magical storage is my bedside table, which is hollow with a door.  The bookshelf I use as an altar has some stuff in in, there is a box of nothing but candles in the closet (and candle overflow on top of one of the bedroom bookshelves).  My hubby works some crazy hours, so I keep some little stuff out by my desk to have on hand if I want to do something spur of the moment while he sleeps.  I have some extra offering bowls (seasonal ones) in a drawer as well.

Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933

- If you do work at your altar (magical, crafting, etc), is your altar big enough to work at easily, or do you have extra space (like a table) which is functionally part of the altar?



I sort of talked about this already, that I often will make ritual space in my living room.  But I also work all over the house.  My computer desk is technically in the kitchen (and it is one of those monstrous corner desks, so pretty good sized).  So I can do a lot of things at my desk.  If I want to keep a candle burning, the kitchen table is right behind me (I am very wary of keeping lit candles by my computer), and I set them there.  I also tend to use the kitchen table when I am doing something involving cooking or cleaning.  In the bedroom, the top of our dresser is covered in candles (for ambiance mainly) and if I am doing a more involved ritual in the bedroom and need more space than my little altar top, I can expand onto the dresser with just a little rearranging.

Quote from: Yei;171268
I have actually been thinking about what the best display/storage would be best for myself. Of course seeing furniture is always different from actually using it. So far I've been using a small bookshelf with all the items on the shelves but that does not give much privacy. So I've been thinking...

Has anyone had any luck with IKEA furniture?

 
I haven't used IKEA, but I've used a pretty broad range of furniture over the years.  The bookshelf I am using right now for my main altar is only three shelves, plus the top.  It has glass fronted doors, and my great-grandmother used to use it outside to keep garden tools in!  I gave it a little sand and a fresh coat of varnish and I absolutely love it.  It has a very well used look to it.  I love having the shelves inside, I keep some of my magical books, many of my divination cards, and other odds and ends inside.  I taped some inspirational pictures to the glass doors several houses back, when we lived in a tiny trailer and our landlord was always stopping by...I preferred to keep my private things private.  So right now, you can't see through the glass at what lies behind.  There are several hooks on the front, so I have places to hang amulets or other tokens.

Another piece of furniture I used that I really liked was an old vanity table.  It had three flat top spots, the middle was slightly lower than the two sides, three drawers, and the back was mirrors.  I loved that I could section my altar up, and have clearly defined spaces, as well as the addition of the mirrors.  I could also hang things on the mirrors (or over them if I wanted a particular cloth backdrop)

At one time I used a large wooden chest.  I'd really like to get a new one, as I adore chests.  It was slightly inconvenient if you wanted to get into it frequently as you had to remove all the things on top to open it.

In college, I was in a two person dorm room.  The beds were just wooden platforms, with drawers built in, and then there was a cork board on the wall behind the bed.  I didn't have a room mate for one semester, so I took the mattress off the other bed and used it for an altar.  The cork board was really nice, I hung pictures for the elements and my main deities, and could add things I was working on too.

One final thought:  I have a small curtain rod, hanging in one of my bookshelves (inside the shelf).  I use it to keep necklaces on, but you could also put one of those small curtains on it and keep it closed when you don't want people to see your shrine, but open it up when you are alone.
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Liadine (dragonflyeyes)

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Re: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2015, 08:16:43 pm »
Quote from: Kylara;171292

 
Thank you for replying, everyone! I really love reading about the practical ways people structure their practice. (I've got my altar/shrines set up now so I'll probably respond to my own question eventually.)
We owe it to each other to tell stories [Neil Gaiman]
night's a good herd [my religious tumblr]

Liadine (dragonflyeyes)

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Re: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2015, 08:23:02 pm »
Quote from: Yei;171268
I have actually been thinking about what the best display/storage would be best for myself. Of course seeing furniture is always different from actually using it. So far I've been using a small bookshelf with all the items on the shelves but that does not give much privacy. So I've been thinking...

Has anyone had any luck with IKEA furniture?

 
Definitely. I mean, in an ideal world I'd have the funds for some gorgeous custom-made thing, but in the meantime I find IKEA works best for me.

So far I've had altars/shrines on waist-height Billy bookcases (not sure if they still make those, mine is definitely at least twenty years old), mini shrines in the upright DVD/CD cases, and on the shelves of a basic bookcase. (Nobody goes in my room but me, so I don't have to worry about privacy, but I know they make doors for the Billy bookcases.) Pretty sure Kallax is the line that took over from Expedit (same thing, but the outer rim is thinner to save on wood) - it's what I picked up to use as my current altar/shrine space.

The nice thing about IKEA, particularly in the context of this thread, is that most of their lines are super-customizable, as well as coming in a wide variety of shapes/sizes. My Kallax, for example, can either be long and low to have space on top (what I did), or can be anchored upright if you want to keep shrines in the individual box-shelves. I know you can also get doors for the box-shelves, so if you kept a shrine in one you could close that up but still have open space in the other shelves.
We owe it to each other to tell stories [Neil Gaiman]
night's a good herd [my religious tumblr]

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Re: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2015, 09:10:28 pm »
Quote from: Sobekemiti;171270
You could do far worse than IKEA furniture, tbh. Pick up some Ivar stuff, maybe a cabinet or two with solid doors, and you could hide it all away if you don't want your stuff to be visible. Ivar has always made reliable shrines for me because it's just so customisable. I can build exactly what I need. Plus you can paint or stain it whatever colour/s you like.

 
Wow. IKEA really do make everything.

These responses have actually been quite heartening. I think I'm might have a closer look at of these.

Thanks for the help.

Redfaery

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Re: Altar/shrine setup - the practical side
« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2015, 01:25:47 am »
Quote from: Liadine (dragonflyeyes);170933
I'm in the process of setting up my altars/shrines again after a move, which got me wondering how other people set things up in a practical sense. I can't stand for long periods of time, and kneeling is out, so ideally I'd have everything at a good height for sitting in front of in a chair. Something about that feels a little off, though, and I'm not sure why.

So, the practical side of things:
- Do you sit, stand, or kneel? What would be ideal?
- Do you prefer to have your altar/shrines at a certain height?
- Do you have storage for bits and pieces you don't currently use?
- If you do work at your altar (magical, crafting, etc), is your altar big enough to work at easily, or do you have extra space (like a table) which is functionally part of the altar?

Any other thoughts are also welcome!


My worship area is in my bedroom. Right now, the "shrine proper" is a turn of the century washstand, a vintage endtable, and a pair of corner shelves. I'll post pictures. They all work so nicely together! I prefer to have things at waist height or higher, so the end table is actually a little low for me. I don't have a very good reason for this; it's simply aesthetics - though having everything off the floor keeps my kitties from using the small items as toys. The unused bits - stray candles, incense, etc. - get stashed in the cabinet under the washstand.

I like to sit in seiza on a meditation cushion when I worship. I've got a lovely red silk one that's nice and squishy. I also do a lot of bowing and kneeling, so I'm glad I've got a good, soft carpet. :D: I don't do much "work" per se; I mostly read sutras and meditate. So, that nice squishy cushion is very important! When I'm reading I usually drape a kata (a silk scarf) over my head, to block out distractions. This isn't like veiling, since this isn't a Buddhist thing. It's a "me not wanting to be distracted" thing. :ange:
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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