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Author Topic: Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I  (Read 6214 times)

invincible_east

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Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« on: July 11, 2013, 01:13:57 am »
What are the proper ways of setting an altar?  This is a simple question, yet knowledge relating to altars are broad and extensive.

The first question is how many deities should we have in an altar?

Answer:  It depends on the size of your altar.  You can fit in as many deities as you like, but keep in mine the number of deities should always be odd number.  In the Taoist comology, everything is divided into Yin and Yang.  Yin and Yang are two dynamic and oposite principles in the cosmos.  Yin stands for negative nature of things and yang stands for the positive side of things.  Even numbers belong to Yin and odd numbers belong to Yang.  Deities having high status are usually emitting Yang spiritual energy, and so when we set up an altar, we should have odd number of deities.

In the picture below, you see a Buddhist altar, it has 17 statues.  In the middle and the highest place is Medicine Buddha, he is flanked by several Bodhisattvas, and the rest 12 frightful-looking statues are Yaksha Generals.  This altar demonstrate the correct number of deities in an altar.


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Re: Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2013, 01:28:53 am »
Quote from: invincible_east;115208
You can fit in as many deities as you like, but keep in mine the number of deities should always be odd number.

 
That's a very nice altar, but I'll point out that not everyone here finds the concepts of yin and yang useful and even fewer interpret it the way you do. (Some of us are quite fond of yin, for example.)

(Though actually all of my altars do adhere to this principle.)

Plenty of Wiccans, for example, work with only two deities, a goddess and a god, and emphasize balance. Therefore it makes sense for them to have two deities on their altar.
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Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2013, 03:46:07 am »
Quote from: invincible_east;115208
What are the proper ways of setting an altar?  This is a simple question, yet knowledge relating to altars are broad and extensive.

The first question is how many deities should we have in an altar?

Answer:  It depends on the size of your altar.  You can fit in as many deities as you like, but keep in mine the number of deities should always be odd number.  In the Taoist comology, everything is divided into Yin and Yang.  Yin and Yang are two dynamic and oposite principles in the cosmos.  Yin stands for negative nature of things and yang stands for the positive side of things.  Even numbers belong to Yin and odd numbers belong to Yang.  Deities having high status are usually emitting Yang spiritual energy, and so when we set up an altar, we should have odd number of deities.

In the picture below, you see a Buddhist altar, it has 17 statues.  In the middle and the highest place is Medicine Buddha, he is flanked by several Bodhisattvas, and the rest 12 frightful-looking statues are Yaksha Generals.  This altar demonstrate the correct number of deities in an altar.


Um... I'm in ADF and we have entirely different altar structures from this (to the extent that we have any guidelines about it at all). From my perspective, a good altar involves fire, well and tree symbols, doesn't need any deities if I don't want it to (those can be kept for deity shrines) and has nothing to do with yin and yang, which are not Indo-European concepts. As for my deity shrines, I shape those around what my deities want, rather than any idea of 'balance', which isn't relevant to my recon-light approach. I currently have an even number of deities on my primary shrine, because that's the number I honour. I doubt they'd be happy if I kicked one off for numerical aesthetics.

You'll find that there are many religious paths represented here, and that your 'advice' doesn't suit us all, as a result.
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Re: Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2013, 06:51:18 am »
Quote from: Jack;115209

Plenty of Wiccans, for example, work with only two deities, a goddess and a god, and emphasize balance. Therefore it makes sense for them to have two deities on their altar.

 
Of course, there's also a larger terminology issue - in my tradition, a shrine is a place where you have a dwelling place for deity, and an altar includes the actual working tools required to do ritual in the tradition's format (or one's personal practice format, if you're talking about something for personal use.)

Space with large number of deity statues would be a shrine for me. (Even if it included, oh, incense or an offering cup or something). The altar would have substantially more in the way of ritual tools.

To offer a comparison, my current shrine has a statue of my 'ancestor of profession' on it, a small offering cup, a collection of perfume bottles for daily blessing work, the holding space for jewelry I wear on a daily basis that is of religious significance, two divination decks, and a book. (It ought to have at least one more statute I haven't made yet, but it does not hold statues or images of my primary deity pair: they haven't wanted something like that: they are represented by the small offering cup.)

My tools of actual ritual - athame, chalice, pentacle, wand, etc. - are in their basket in my closet.
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Laveth

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Re: Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2013, 08:46:55 am »
Quote from: invincible_east;115208
What are the proper ways of setting an altar?  This is a simple question, yet knowledge relating to altars are broad and extensive.

The first question is how many deities should we have in an altar?

Answer:  It depends on the size of your altar.  You can fit in as many deities as you like, but keep in mine the number of deities should always be odd number.  In the Taoist comology, everything is divided into Yin and Yang.  Yin and Yang are two dynamic and oposite principles in the cosmos.  Yin stands for negative nature of things and yang stands for the positive side of things.  Even numbers belong to Yin and odd numbers belong to Yang.  Deities having high status are usually emitting Yang spiritual energy, and so when we set up an altar, we should have odd number of deities.

Currently my altar has a candle, some shark teeth, some rocks, my incense holder, and a bowl on it. And that's it. Seems to work well enough for me for the past several years.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2013, 08:47:31 am by Laveth »

Varian

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Re: Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2013, 06:23:38 pm »
Quote from: invincible_east;115208


 
The proper way of setting up an altar depends on what path(s) you're working with.

My altar is a statue of Anpu, a candle and a box that holds my prayers and hallowed jewelry.  Some would look at the simplicity and call it a shrine, but in the Kemetic tradition (someone please correct me if I'm wrong), a shrine is the God's home, the God is there...and I'm in no way ready for the level of responsibility that caring for a shrine would entail.

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Re: Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2013, 06:26:18 pm »
Quote from: Briar Rose;115293
My altar is a statue of Anpu, a candle and a box that holds my prayers and hallowed jewelry.  Some would look at the simplicity and call it a shrine, but in the Kemetic tradition (someone please correct me if I'm wrong), a shrine is the God's home, the God is there...and I'm in no way ready for the level of responsibility that caring for a shrine would entail.

 
A shrine does not necessarily contain an open statue.

I wouldn't call something an altar unless it was a workspace.
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Varian

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Re: Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2013, 07:31:28 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;115294
A shrine does not necessarily contain an open statue.

I wouldn't call something an altar unless it was a workspace.


Huh.  I guess it is a shrine. :o

dionysiandame

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Re: Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2013, 08:23:43 pm »
Quote from: invincible_east;115208
What are the proper ways of setting an altar?  This is a simple question, yet knowledge relating to altars are broad and extensive.

The first question is how many deities should we have in an altar?



I believe Sir that you are  mistaken. You see I only have one statue, for Dionysus, on my altar because I needed space for my nicely sized glass phallus.

In looking at your altar, I notice a distinct lack of cocks.

I'm more than willing to help you learn the real way to set up an altar but you will have to disavow yourself of these notions "yin" and "yang" and think purely in the terms of "dick" or "no dick."

So I'll show you mine and then you can show me yours.
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invincible_east

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Re: Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2013, 01:55:56 am »
Quote from: Jack;115209
That's a very nice altar, but I'll point out that not everyone here finds the concepts of yin and yang useful and even fewer interpret it the way you do. (Some of us are quite fond of yin, for example.)

(Though actually all of my altars do adhere to this principle.)

Plenty of Wiccans, for example, work with only two deities, a goddess and a god, and emphasize balance. Therefore it makes sense for them to have two deities on their altar.

 
Thank you for your information Jack.

Anyway, many people have the misconception that Yin automatically equals female, and Yang equals male.  However, I would like to point out that male or female can either be Yin or Yang, depending on a given situation.  For instance, a male is considered Yang when he is at home, and he is the head of a household, but he may be considered as Yin when he is at work, and that he is working under his employer.  In other words, when considering someone as Yin or Yang, we must look at a given reference basis.  Thus, if we are speaking about the level of spiritual energy with reference to ordinary human's spiritual energy, then both of Wiccan god and goddess are considered Yang, because both of them have much higher spiritual energy than ordinary human beings.

One may ask, I have two statues already, one is a god and another one is a goddess, then what should one do.  One can always have another identical god or goddess statue in the altar.  This makes three of them, which is a Yang number, right?

Anyhow, many of you may be very satisfied with your current altar.  You may say that you believe in the duality of a god and a goddess, and so you just want two in your altar.  That's fine and I respect your choices.  

Here, the reason I bring up the subject of proper altar set is to bring out the potential of altar's qi (spiritual energy).  Let us say an ordinary altar set up gives you 75% of the altar's power, isn't it preferable to bring it up to 100% of its power?  Having study Feng shui (geomancy), I offer my two cent tips of enhancing your altar.  

For those of you who heard about Feng sui for the first time, it is a knowledge about arranging environmental factors, which bring out the most positive energy from your environment.  This energy can have positive affects on you.  Having odd number of deities is just one of the factor.  I will explain further down the road whenever time permits.

Thanks to the rest of you who are giving your positive feedbacks.

invincible_east

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Re: Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2013, 02:09:55 am »
Quote from: dionysiandame;115315
I believe Sir that you are  mistaken. You see I only have one statue, for Dionysus, on my altar because I needed space for my nicely sized glass phallus.

In looking at your altar, I notice a distinct lack of cocks.

I'm more than willing to help you learn the real way to set up an altar but you will have to disavow yourself of these notions "yin" and "yang" and think purely in the terms of "dick" or "no dick."

So I'll show you mine and then you can show me yours.

 
"dionysiandame", please be civil, and keep your genitial remark to yourself.

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Re: Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2013, 03:09:09 am »
Quote from: invincible_east;115352
"dionysiandame", please be civil, and keep your genitial remark to yourself.

 
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As our rules clearly state, you cannot tell other members how to post. If you feel rules have been broken, you are welcome to report it to staff and we will deal with it as per the rules. In this case, while Dionysian Dame's post was perhaps crude, I don't see anything approaching a rules violation.

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Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2013, 03:41:43 am »
Quote from: invincible_east;115349
For instance, a male is considered Yang when he is at home, and he is the head of a household

Is he, now?

Seriously?
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Re: Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2013, 07:19:49 am »
Quote from: invincible_east;115349

Here, the reason I bring up the subject of proper altar set is to bring out the potential of altar's qi (spiritual energy).  Let us say an ordinary altar set up gives you 75% of the altar's power, isn't it preferable to bring it up to 100% of its power?  Having study Feng shui (geomancy), I offer my two cent tips of enhancing your altar.


Got to say: this approach is entirely irrelevant to my practice.

My altar is, as I've said, a tool. What gives my working meaning is not 'power' but 'connection' and 'usefulness'.

On my altar, I want to have the tools that are useful to me for the working, and that are meaningful to me and my Gods. No more, no less, no grasping for more 'power'.

Same reason I work a job that suits my life and my passion and my vocation, but does not exactly earn me a lot of money (a common representation of power in our society). Same reason I lay out the things I'm going to cook with when I have a big cooking session planned, but do not need Every Fancy Cooking Implement ever.
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Re: Proper Ways of Setting Up an Altar -- Part I
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2013, 07:59:52 am »
Quote from: invincible_east;115349
Here, the reason I bring up the subject of proper altar set is to bring out the potential of altar's qi (spiritual energy).  Let us say an ordinary altar set up gives you 75% of the altar's power, isn't it preferable to bring it up to 100% of its power?  Having study Feng shui (geomancy), I offer my two cent tips of enhancing your altar.  

For those of you who heard about Feng sui for the first time, it is a knowledge about arranging environmental factors, which bring out the most positive energy from your environment.  This energy can have positive affects on you.  Having odd number of deities is just one of the factor.  I will explain further down the road whenever time permits.

Thanks to the rest of you who are giving your positive feedbacks.

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There are two reasons that some of your posts on this message board are not being received as well as you might like.

First, many come across as articles/lectures which seldom do well here -- especially from new members who regulars do not know and therefore have no idea how accurate the lecture is likely to be.

Second, your posts assume that the way your religion does things is universal and applies to every other religion out there. Perhaps you believe that this is true, however, other religions have different ways of doing things which makes your chosen method wrong for them. You make no effort to acknowledge that your method is not the universial "one true way." This always gets a negative reaction from our members -- and it is a deserved negative reaction.

If you want to do well here, you need to start rephrasing your posts so they come across less like a lecture and make it clear that they are only your religion's way of doing things and not something that applies to all religions.
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