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Altars: A Personal Connection

When you hear the term altar some people think of skulls, herbs, and tools of a witch but there are so many different kinds of altars that you can create. You've probably done it without realizing it. One of the more familiar altars to most people is a church altar. These are the tables that are placed at the front of the church which normally has candles, a cross or religious figure, and other objects that are prevalent in the church. These are altars that are used for religious rituals but that isn't the only type of altar.

So in basic terms, what is an altar?

The dictionary describes an altar as: a table or flat-topped block used as the focus for a religious ritual, especially for making sacrifices or offerings to a deity.

This definition in itself is right but the words used are slightly skewed by the understanding of the meanings. An altar doesn't have to be religious or even faith-based, it is a personal space that you divot to a certain use. You can have an altar of candles, herbs, water, and incense, there is no faith or religion to it, it is an altar devoted to your magick.

In this context, the term sacrifice is separated from offerings because sacrifice carries an air of negative reaction whereas offerings are more of a gentle term. When one thinks of an altar the word sacrifice tends to bring up images of chicken blood or killing an animal which is not always the case (though in some cultures this is still a practice). An offering is thought of as food or drink which is less menacing.

The thing that is most sacrificed at any altar is energy and time.

In this, not all altars have a deity. Many use altar's for their gods and goddess' but this is not the only kind of altar. We will look at the kinds of altars below but for the sake of breaking down this definition, an altar can be just for magick, for non-spiritual beings like the Fae, or even a divination altar.

The only two parts that hold true to this definition are that, yes, an altar is created on a flat surface and yes, it is used for a ritual of some sort. The rest is how you take the context.

With that out of the way, let's look at some alter types.

An altar that is being used for faith has a specific design to it but it is not concrete. You need balance and elements in order to fully and successfully practice faith and for this, you must have the same mirror of that balance on your altar. Before setting up your altar for whatever you need it for, consider what energy you are bringing into your ritual at that time. If you are needing masculine energy, then the god would be on the left. If you are in need of more feminine energy, the goddess goes on the left. Remember however that you always need to have that balance so whichever is not on the left will then go on the right.

A psychic altar can be for divination, the Fae, dragons, unicorns, guides, or an assortment of other things. These don't need as much balance because it is not faith, it is not god and goddess, it is psychic. In the same way, a Magick altar doesn't always have faith attached to it (unless you are Wiccan and use Magick in your practice). A Witches Altar will have the elements, with a firm focus on their specific following (Hedge Witch, Kitchen Witch, Sea Witch....)

One thing that links ALL of these together however is The Elements (Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and in some cases Spirit) are found on most altars that are used in both Wiccan, Psychic, and Magick workers. These elements can be represented by many different things. A shell can be water whereas incense can be air, there is no limit to what you can use to represent them. In the most direct way, however, a bowl of water, a bottle of dirt, candles, and a feather or again, incense, are the most commonly used for the elements. The elements connect us to the natural world around us, to Mother Earth, and to the primal existence of raw energy.

Altars are ever-changing as are the people who create them. The things you put on your altar when you first start your practice aren't always the things you need after months of practice. You can change your alter as often as the seasons or keep it as it is for years but at some point, you will change it. Also, there is no limit to the number of altars you have, just keep in mind you don't want to have too many in one space. An altar for the season, an altar for your faith, and a magick altar in a room is a lot of energy spinning around however, it seems to be a good balance for me (as I have these three altars in one space).

A suggestion is not to have one altar for a number of different things but you can mix some altars together. For instance, the season can be integrated into a god and goddess altar because it is a part of their story and also, it is an element that will help you with your faith. The seasons can be integrated into a magick altar because again, magick is not just a single-season practice. A deity altar can be mixed with a magick altar however not all deities are magick so that is one you have to know your gods and goddess' to know which will go well with it.

In the same aspect with psychic altars, you don't want to mix and match. Some of the spiritual beings you believe in do not mix with others and if you put them together you will end up not only losing your keys and will also have issues with other things too. For example, I would not personally put Fae on my divination altar.

Understanding your reasoning for your altar is always a good place to start. Also, an altar doesn't have to be expensive and perfect. There are so many people out there looking at low-budget Wicca, Witchcraft, and Psychic work that you can create an altar for under $100 if you know where to look.

If you are buying second-hand, make sure you cleanse the things you get so that nothing you don't want ends up in your sacred space. You don't have to spend $30 on a figure to represent your goddess when you can spend $10 on clay and form her yourself. At the same time, use the talents that you have, if you are creative then make the things for your altar. Your intention is there and it is the purest form of connection.

Whatever you wish to use your altar for is a personal thing. The creation, meaning, and energy you put into each altar are yours alone, that is why they are considered Sacred Spaces and for the most part, people don't touch them.

If you are interested in learning more about Altars or any of the topics that were covered in this post contact Mystic Mojo at 905-547-3626 and ask about your Psychic Studies or Wiccan Studies programs.

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