How do you make and keep altars and shrines?

pagan altar photo
Photo by Editor B
We’ve had a thread for showing off our altars and shrines for a while, and we’ve had several threads asking for help with altars and shrines. How about a thread digging into the specifics of how you use these magical/ritual concepts in your practice?

I recently set up a new desk that has a separate platform off to the side from the main one; I’ve been using it as an altar, on which I keep a few specific things. One is a speaker for playing music; another is a fountain through which I make water libations to my gods; and the rest are tools and magical items. It’s been satisfying to keep it clean and perform a simple cleansing ritual before it. I’ve also noticed that it serves a distinctly different purpose than my shrine, which is simply to house beautiful things and idols in honor of my Powers.

But the process of setting up this altar and starting to practice at it has gotten me thinking about just what purpose altars and shrines serve for modern pagans. For me at the moment, my altar is serving the purpose of helping me organize my changing practice and anchor it in simple rules and rituals at all times. As such, I have clear rules about what I keep on it versus what I keep on the shrine, and I make sure to perform a daily ritual of cleansing and offering there.

But I know that other people have different experiences, and I’m interested in learning about them. If you keep altars or shrines in your practice–what purpose do they serve? On what principles do you construct them? What rituals do you perform at them regularly? How do you take care of them? Do you merge them into one altar/shrine, or keep multiple separate spaces for different purposes and Powers?

May the 4th be with you: practices of the Jedi?

Jedi photo
Photo by hdiwan
The Star Wars franchise has a lot to say about the philosophies of both groups, but what about their practices? I mean, we see bits of their teaching methods and martial arts, but what about religious practices? Are there any?

The Jedi are sometimes called a religion, but do they function as one?

What do you imagine Jedi spiritual practices would be like? How about the Sith?

How Do You Describe Your Religious Identity In Public?

Identity photoA lot of us following pagan and otherwise non-mainstream paths find that we have to tread carefully around the topic outside of pagan spaces, or even outside of our own personal mystic spaces. How do you navigate that? What descriptors have you taken to using for your faith in various non-pagan circles?

As a bonus question: how are you able to interact with those of other faiths outside of pagan spaces using that presentation?

“Working” with Deity vs. Worshipping Deity

Goddess photoI must confess that I’ve always been a bit…confused by the tendency of pagans to say they “work” with a deity/deities. I always assumed that “working” with a deity related to working magic with the help of a God/Goddess, but I’ve seen pagans who do not practice magic use this expression.

What, exactly, does it mean to “work” with a deity? Is this a reference to prayer/reciprocity? Or something else?

What is the difference between “working” with a God and worshiping him/her?

Personally, I don’t claim to “work” with the Gods as that, to me personally, would imply some kind of even-footing. However, I think others may be using the term in a way I am not familiar with and perhaps I am misunderstanding. What are your thoughts on this semantic difference?

Modern Mythology: Trains to the Afterlife

Trains photoWhat is with the association between trains and death? Why, out of all vehicles, are trains the most common choice of afterlife transportation? (TVtropes has a whole page of examples).

What have trains got that, say, a bus doesn’t?

This has been on my mind because I recently got my hands on some model railroad supplies, and was undecided about whether to shell out for the expensive part (ie a locomotive) until it occurred to me that I could make it into an ancestor shrine, partly due to this trope.

Technology and Your Craft

Technology photoThis past weekend I bought a new phone (Google Pixel 2 for those interested) and I have noticed during my commutes that nearly every person has a piece of powerful technology in their pockets that can be used for different purposes: financial; musical; educational; medical; informational; and the list goes on.

These different purposes have me thinking as I was researching my different deities: how does one incorporate technology into one’s practice? And how does one balance that technology use with off screen time?

I’ll post my personal practices shortly.

Signs of Spring, Rays of Hope

Spring photoSo today it has barely cracked the freezing mark in New York City–another cold day in a brutal winter. And yet I’m finding signs of hope: When I walked out my front door today, I noticed there were buds on the street trees, waiting for their moment to bust open…the male mourning dove has started his rhythmic cooing…when I went to the gym this morning, it was dark, but for the first time in months, when I left the sun was up and light was everywhere (and, if I leave the office on time, there’s still some light in the sky now)…even I’m getting into the act, overwhelmed the past few days with a need to play my favorite “spring summoning” music, as if it might coax things along.

Any signs of impending spring yet where you are?

The Reconstruction of Beer

Beer photoI found this article on CBC the other day, about some brewers who made beer according to a fourth-century Egyptian recipe. Unfortunately it doesn’t go into detail, but I’m curious. And sad that they only made a small batch, because from the description, I think I’d enjoy drinking it.

Anyway, reconstruction: it’s not just for religions. Anyone else know of any similar examples

Book recommendation about Brigid?

Brigid photo
Photo by Editor B
I desperately need a birthday present for a friend. She loves Brigid and I’ve investigated which books she already has:

– Judy Harrow: Devoted to You
– Seán ó Duinn: The Rites of Brigid

Can anyone recommend an additional book?

My friend is neo druid, I think she would read historical accurate stuff as well as stuff from an UPG perspective or with practical stuff in it…

Does anyone have an idea what would be a good supplement to the books she already has?