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Author Topic: Do you keep your altar out in the open?  (Read 2922 times)

rubyred

Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« on: March 19, 2017, 03:05:25 pm »
I am rearranging my house because of space issues and the only place I am able to put my altar now is in the front area/living room right by the kitchen. I love the idea of having it out where I spend most of my time anyway, but my only issue with this is that guests will see it. Which isn't a huge problem, since I don't try to hide my beliefs or anything, but I'm also not trying to be like "hey everyone! Look at how interesting and pagan I am!"

Also, my altar is a small desk that I sit at so it's not just a little shelf or anything. It's a full on workspace filled with all my candles and incense and tarot decks and runes and crystals , an obviously spiritually dedicated space.

I've seen on many websites not to have your altar out in the open or within view from anyone who wouldn't "appreciate" it, whatever that means. I don't know if I agree with that or not, since what does it matter what other people's opinions are on my spiritual practice? So do you guys keep your altars hidden from view, or do you not care either way?

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Re: Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2017, 03:45:48 pm »
Quote from: rubyred;203925
I don't know if I agree with that or not, since what does it matter what other people's opinions are on my spiritual practice? So do you guys keep your altars hidden from view, or do you not care either way?

 
Mine is a shrine (usually not set up with all the tools that would make it an altar by my definitions) and is in my bedroom, but at various points I've had one in more public spaces.

I also don't usually have people over much, which can change your decisions (if you don't have people over a lot, adjusting a couple of times when you do is different than if you have people over all the time.)

The big two things are: "Are people going to have negative reactions to your altar (or you for having one)?" And secondly, "Are people going to do things like put empty soda cans on your altar/shrine"

You can do stuff to help discourage the latter (by design, available space, talking to people, etc.) but it's going to depend a bit on who will be around it, and how attentive they are to things like that.
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Re: Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2017, 03:51:14 pm »
Quote from: rubyred;203925
what does it matter what other people's opinions are on my spiritual practice?

 
Theoretically it doesn't.

But if you live in a place where your landlords might evict you if they find out you're pagan...it kind of does matter, a lot, because their opinions holds sway over whether or not you have shelter.

(That is my current main reason for keeping my shrines mostly locked away in the office and not in an area that's easily visible from open doors or when they need to walk through the living room to get at the furnace or hot water heater.)

Another thing to consider: keeping your sacred spaces hidden from folks who won't appreciate them isn't just about opinions; it's about behavior. I've had people walk right over to my altars or shrines and just start manhandling things on them, and I had an ex who consistently put his car keys or coke cans on my altar. My mom puts her wine glasses on my shrines, at which point I steal them away from her and tell her she doesn't get any more wine, because she just gave it to the gods. She still hasn't stopped doing this.

Basically in my experience people have been disrespectful assholes about my shrine and altar spaces, so in order to reduce my chances of going nuclear on them, I keep my spaces mostly hidden from view. (I have also severely limited my list of "who is allowed in my home", as much as I am able to.)
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Emma Eldritch

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Re: Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2017, 05:19:00 pm »
Quote from: rubyred;203925
I've seen on many websites not to have your altar out in the open or within view from anyone who wouldn't "appreciate" it, whatever that means. I don't know if I agree with that or not, since what does it matter what other people's opinions are on my spiritual practice? So do you guys keep your altars hidden from view, or do you not care either way?

 
Like Morag said, depending on your living situation you may want to consider things like whether or not your landlord will flip if they happen to look in. If that isn't an issue then it really does boil down to who you are likely to have in your home.

I personally have my stuff out all the time. My old apartment was a glorified bachelor suite - there really wasn't much room to hide things even if I had wanted to. I have a decor sense that is frankly a bit creepy in general, which results in my entire living space looking witchy. Honestly, what would give me away more than an altar or shrine was my bookshelf - the goat skull on the mantel could just be me being me, but a shelf of stuff with titles like "Occult Experiments in the Home" is less easy to write off as eccentric taste.

I currently live with my sister in a larger space, so in theory I could hide my altar. I don't. My bedroom used to be a dining room, so I just leave it set up in there on an antique wooden minibar I found in an alley. It's on a small rug so I can pull it into the middle of the room when I wish. I suppose it might look a bit odd, but again - creepy. The living room is perfectly mundane but it has skulls and apothecary bottles and candles all over the place.

I have not had a problem with people messing with my things. My friends are my friends for a reason, and are not disrespectful to anything in the house. They don't grab stuff off my altar any more than they would paw through my medicine cabinet. On the occasions we have legitimate strangers in the house I can just close my doors and trust nobody's going to go poking around in my room. If I was truly concerned, I could tuck away the personal bits inside the altar itself, and move the other stuff so it looked purely decorative.
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sevensons

Re: Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2017, 04:11:14 am »
Quote from: Emma Eldritch;203931
Like Morag said, depending on your living situation you may want to consider things like whether or not your landlord will flip if they happen to look in. If that isn't an issue then it really does boil down to who you are likely to have in your home.

I personally have my stuff out all the time. My old apartment was a glorified bachelor suite - there really wasn't much room to hide things even if I had wanted to. I have a decor sense that is frankly a bit creepy in general, which results in my entire living space looking witchy. Honestly, what would give me away more than an altar or shrine was my bookshelf - the goat skull on the mantel could just be me being me, but a shelf of stuff with titles like "Occult Experiments in the Home" is less easy to write off as eccentric taste.

I currently live with my sister in a larger space, so in theory I could hide my altar. I don't. My bedroom used to be a dining room, so I just leave it set up in there on an antique wooden minibar I found in an alley. It's on a small rug so I can pull it into the middle of the room when I wish. I suppose it might look a bit odd, but again - creepy. The living room is perfectly mundane but it has skulls and apothecary bottles and candles all over the place.

I have not had a problem with people messing with my things. My friends are my friends for a reason, and are not disrespectful to anything in the house. They don't grab stuff off my altar any more than they would paw through my medicine cabinet. On the occasions we have legitimate strangers in the house I can just close my doors and trust nobody's going to go poking around in my room. If I was truly concerned, I could tuck away the personal bits inside the altar itself, and move the other stuff so it looked purely decorative.

 
I am very secretive of my beliefs and don't have an altar. what I have done is purchase items like jade wood metal and crystal carvings and put them around my computer desk and in the cupboard. it is more of secret spells every where that people who see haven't got a clue. The only gods I have are Kali and Ganesh.

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Re: Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2017, 04:59:45 am »
Quote from: rubyred;203925

I've seen on many websites not to have your altar out in the open or within view from anyone who wouldn't "appreciate" it, whatever that means. I don't know if I agree with that or not, since what does it matter what other people's opinions are on my spiritual practice? So do you guys keep your altars hidden from view, or do you not care either way?

 
I have a shrine in my sitting room which is pretty discreet. Many people wouldn't recognise it for what it is. Like a previous poster it's my bookcases that will give me away.

I am lucky enough to have a temple room which has a much more explicit shrine. Entry there is by invitation only (other than the boiler man who needs to access the control panel. I throw a cloth over the large mounted ram skull an put the ancestral skull in a box but I have forgotten a time or two and he's never said anything.)

I don't believe in permanent altars, they get stale and dusty so my working altars are set up when needed  and taken down 24 hours later. The are never seen by anyone not taking part.

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Re: Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2017, 06:30:24 am »
Quote from: rubyred;203925
So do you guys keep your altars hidden from view, or do you not care either way?

 
When I was still living with my ex I didn't have a shrine or altar. He was an atheist (which is fine with me) and he mocked my beliefs (which is not). So I had my tarot deck hidden away in my nightstand and only the occasional rock or feather that had meaning tucked somewhere behind a knickknack.
Since he left I have the place to myself and I have finally been able to erect a shrine to my Lord. It is smack in the middle of my living room on a large dressoir. I walk past it when I move to my usual sitting place on the couch. When I'm in my reading chair its directly in my line of sight.
I have had friends and family, and even my ex, over since having the shrine up. My friends and family are all Roman Catholic by belief but none practice as far as I know. I also had some visitors over for other matters, like a lawyer for the asbestos case I'm involved in, and a real estate agent. None commented on the shrine.
My ex did pick up the Valentines day card and read it halfway before asking me if he was allowed to read it. Arse.



Hanging from the stick, from left to right:
A braided cord made from horsehair from my own horse and a piece of string I found in the barn attached to a walnut from the tree in the backyard. I was wanting to use it as a pendulum but it's too rigid, so I put it up on the shrine. Next is a very old key I found hanging on a nail in the barn. I don't know what its for but its part of the history of the house. I keep it at my shrine to honour the house. On the right, and it might be difficult to see, are two necklaces with stones. I hang them from the stick to recharge when I'm not wearing them. One is an amethyst, the other an aragonite. With that is a little antler replica I bought at Christmas. Apparently antlers were hot this year so I stacked up one some as they represent my Lord to me.

The cup on the right is an old tin cup that I inherited from my grandfather. He was a hunter and the cup depicts a deerhunt. I find it very fitting for a shrine dedicated to Cernunos. I use it to keep stones and bits I pick up on walks.

The two Buddha's holding up most of the sticks and stuff were a housewarming gift from a friend of mine. In the crook of the left Buddha's arm is a tiny Buddha statue I've been given for my birthday with the explicit wish of the giftgiver to bring me good fortune and good health. I'm not a Buddhist but I am open minded and Buddha's given as a gift are said to bring good luck.

All the flowers and sticks and things have been found in the woods and fields surrounding my house. I love the area I live in, it's full of wiildlife and it reminds me every day of my Lord and my connection to nature.

Surrounding the shrine are items that are dear to me.
The plate on the wall is a poem my great grandfather wrote. When my mother and her siblings went through my great grandfathers belongings after his passing they found a note with this poem folded up and tucked away underneath a drawer. It's about daring to live and be free. My mom had it printed on an aluminium plate to put up on the wall as a Christmas gift.
On the left are the Valentines day card and my Happy Birthday card I got from my loved one over seas. It's the only solid proof I have of his existence. They're precious to me so they're up on the dressoir.

Sorry for the very extensive post. I got writing and couldn't stop. :o
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Re: Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2017, 08:57:07 am »
Quote from: rubyred;203925
I've seen on many websites not to have your altar out in the open or within view from anyone who wouldn't "appreciate" it, whatever that means. I don't know if I agree with that or not, since what does it matter what other people's opinions are on my spiritual practice? So do you guys keep your altars hidden from view, or do you not care either way?

 
I have had open altars on and off since I started my practice.  Currently, I am married, and hubby is atheist, while son just decided he was agnostic (no longer atheist like he used to be).  But, they both know what I do and believe, and are fine with it.  So keeping open altars in the house is not an issue for me.  I have one on my desk (a little shelf over my computer, where I spend the vast majority of my time), and one in the bedroom.

We don't entertain a ton of people, but my in-laws come over (nominally Catholic, though I don't know that I've ever seen them go to church), and we have had hubby's work friends over, and son's friends come over regularly.  I have tarot decks out all over the place right now (as my focus for the year is divination).  I have never had a problem with people getting upset at my things.

However, when I lived at home with my parents (in high school and college), I kept my things discrete.  And, when we lived in a tiny trailer in a very small country town, I didn't keep an obvious altar (for landlord reasons).

I have had people in the past grab things off my altar.  I've never had one in a place where it would be convenient/logical for people to put things on it, so that has never been a thing for me.

I definitely think it's personal preference.  If it bothers you to have your things out where people might touch them or say judgemental things (or where it would negatively impact your life), then you might want to go for a more discrete look.  If it doesn't bother you, then there is no reason (in my opinion) not to have your altar however (and wherever) you like it.
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Re: Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2017, 05:02:40 pm »
Quote from: Dynes Hysbys;203948
I am lucky enough to have a temple room which has a much more explicit shrine. Entry there is by invitation only (other than the boiler man who needs to access the control panel. I throw a cloth over the large mounted ram skull an put the ancestral skull in a box but I have forgotten a time or two and he's never said anything.)

 
The boiler man has seen some shit. Nothing shocks him anymore.
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Re: Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2017, 05:06:46 pm »
Quote from: Emma Eldritch;203964
The boiler man has seen some shit. Nothing shocks him anymore.

 
I would not be surprised if that was true of a lot of maintenance people. This is, at least, how I reassure myself regarding my messy apartment. That worst out there exists.

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Re: Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2017, 06:28:34 pm »
Quote from: Emma Eldritch;203964
The boiler man has seen some shit. Nothing shocks him anymore.


I think you are absolutely right! At least he comes back each year.

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Re: Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2017, 06:42:44 pm »
Quote from: Jenett;203927

The big two things are: "Are people going to have negative reactions to your altar (or you for having one)?" And secondly, "Are people going to do things like put empty soda cans on your altar/shrine"

 
I live in a studio apartment, so ... yeah, my shrine is out in the open. The rest of my family is pretty religion-indifferent so they've never commented on or disrespected the shrine itself ... but they don't seem to have a clue that the rug in front of the shrine table is also a part of my shrine space.

I avoid stepping on the rug unless I'm doing something shrine-related, so seeing someone else standing around on it is just ... ack. I haven't said anything to them since they only come over a couple times a year.

I admit that at one point when I had a job with a Definitely Christian boss, and also lived in housing provided by said boss, I was careful to pack up my shrine when not in use. Boss was already sexist, racist and ageist, so probably wouldn't have reacted well.

AsraiDouglas

Re: Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2017, 10:15:36 pm »
Quote from: rubyred;203925
I am rearranging my house because of space issues and the only place I am able to put my altar now is in the front area/living room right by the kitchen. I love the idea of having it out where I spend most of my time anyway, but my only issue with this is that guests will see it. Which isn't a huge problem, since I don't try to hide my beliefs or anything, but I'm also not trying to be like "hey everyone! Look at how interesting and pagan I am!"

Also, my altar is a small desk that I sit at so it's not just a little shelf or anything. It's a full on workspace filled with all my candles and incense and tarot decks and runes and crystals , an obviously spiritually dedicated space.

I've seen on many websites not to have your altar out in the open or within view from anyone who wouldn't "appreciate" it, whatever that means. I don't know if I agree with that or not, since what does it matter what other people's opinions are on my spiritual practice? So do you guys keep your altars hidden from view, or do you not care either way?


I have a few small altars that are somewhat "stealthy" and simply look like shelves of pretty things.  I use invisible-mount knick-knack shelves that are big enough to hold pillar candles and nice bowls, but small enough that my cat won't attempt to jump up on them.

My tools are spread out between three of these shelves: one is for daily offerings and small rituals, and the other two function as "storage" and showpieces.  When I'm ready to do a larger working requiring all the paces, I have a nice wooden folding table that comes out of the closet that serves as a larger, sturdier altar space.

While many of my close friends know about my religious beliefs, I work for a Catholic organization.  I'd like to think they nobody would really care (and there are lots of other non-Catholic employees, and even openly pagan person) but I still try to keep my practice low-key.

I also live with a Christian woman who is a little, shall I say, sheltered?  My next living space will be solo, and I'm planning on having a room dedicated as a sacred space.  I do find the "get everything together, put it on the table, then put it back" process a little time consuming and occasionally aggravating.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2017, 10:16:26 pm by AsraiDouglas »

Oskar

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Re: Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2017, 05:23:08 am »
Quote from: rubyred;203925
I've seen on many websites not to have your altar out in the open or within view from anyone who wouldn't "appreciate" it, whatever that means. I don't know if I agree with that or not, since what does it matter what other people's opinions are on my spiritual practice? So do you guys keep your altars hidden from view, or do you not care either way?

I keep mine fully set up in my side room. This way I can choose whether to show it to people who may at least respect my beliefs or not. I like having a designated room where I can feel at peace away from my busy looking house. Also I can choose when to let my cat into the room. So far he has not interfered with it - fingers crossed - even though it has some lovely feathers, sea urchins and fox tail reeds which might tempt his interest..
« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 05:23:44 am by Oskar »

rubyred

Re: Do you keep your altar out in the open?
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2017, 09:42:45 am »
Thanks all for the interesting replies! I never thought about people messing with it and putting stuff down on the altar. That could definitely happen. My landlord is my mother in law and she hardly ever comes over, if she did though she wouldn't care about seeing an altar. Some other family members though, maybe.

Maybe I'll do like others suggested and keep my altar things in a somewhat hidden place, then take them out when I plan on using them. I suppose an altar table without my tools on it is just a table.

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