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HomeBeginning Wicca, Classes, Witch Lesson 2; Altar Basics Part 2


Lesson 2; Altar Basics Part 2

Erin

<— Continued

Message: Thalada,
Author: Cainte – Daven Iceni

Date: Apr 28, 2000 12:22

Yes, I understand perfectly where you are coming from.  I too carry a “Sacred Space” around with me all the time.  I have my altar in my head, as well as a Shrine, and a “crash kit” for emergency rituals.

However, let’s start at the beginning.  That’s a pretty advanced attitude that takes years to develop.  Baby steps before driving a car….

LOOHTA  (Laughter of one heart to another)

Message: Druid Shrines
Author: DJW – OllahmLaoich Urchurdan
Date: Apr 28, 2000 19:02

Daven Said:
“As to Druidic practice, I have no idea.  I would assume from archeological evidence that the Druids used SOME kind of Altar during their worship, but there is little evidence that I know of.  (If anyone has evidence supporting this, please let me know about it.)”

The only thing that comes to mind are the ‘Nemed’, probably more in line with the shrine concepts than the altar. There’s not much to go on concerning altars. But there were holy places. Places seen as ‘between’ were important (where water meets land, caves, wells, etc). There are instances of offering pits (some going for many meters underground), and certain spots in rivers where offerings are found. Also, trees have been repositories for gifts, eg. colored cloth.

I think there may have been altars, but more as a convenience (so they don’t have to bend down too far to pick up the tools 🙂

Some people think the Celts didn’t view their gods anthropomorphicly, in which case they may not have needed indoor altars or shrines. I wouldn’t be too sure of that. But I think they used the kitchen table for family rituals (or something along those lines).

The Celts/ Druids certainly had amulets/ talismans, so they may be portable shrines (also thinking of the Crane Bag).

OllahmLaoich

Message: Druid Altars
Author:Daven Iceni

Date: Apr 29, 2000 13:29

Okay, Amulets and Talismans are more portable spells that you can hold in your hand rather than portable shrines.

And you must understand the time period we are speaking on here.  The Druids were the Priest Class of the Celts, and as such were the sole people responsible for ALL rituals.

In fact, this was so ingrained with the culture that Caesar commented on it when he was writing back to Rome to get more support for his troops in Britain. He said “The Druids control the entire religious aspect of the Celts.  They MUST be present at every rite or ceremony so it is conducted correctly.” Or words to that effect.

There may have been some prayers to the Gods in the average person’s home, but no ceremonies or rites held.

The reason that I said they must have had altars in their ceremonies is exactly for convenience.  That’s pretty much my surmise too.

As to offering locations, They are scattered all over Britain.  That is undisputed.  The colored cloths were prayer cloths.  An especially important prayer was spoken and the cloth was tied to the tree or bush, in the hopes of attracting the notice of the Gods with it’s fluttering and moving, and thus they may be intrigued enough to come to where the cloth was to hear the prayer and possibly help.

Please remember some things.  All of the evidence that Caesar wrote about in his reports were third hand.  He never personally saw any rites or ceremonies up close, so he has no knowledge of the true way they were conducted.  Also, he was writing for support for his campaign in Britain, support that Rome was reluctant to give.  As such, he could have colored the facts a bit to make the Celts seem more vicious and blood-thirsty than they were.

Also, one of the goals of this thread is to make it pan-pagan.  No matter the culture, nor the peoples, and I think we are getting locked on the Celts.

Now, this is not necessarily bad, since a lot of Paganism takes it’s roots from there.  But we do need to keep our focus on other groups too.

For instance, Altars only seem to crop up in societies that have indoor rituals.  As such, it is probably that the Druids did not use altars for their ceremonies, except as a convenience.  But the Egyptians, however, did.  As well as the Romans, and the Greeks.  But the Native Americans (from circa 1500’s) did not.  But the Aztecs and Incas and other societies there did use Altars for their rites and ceremonies.  The Japanese and Chinese did and did not.  They had shrines, but no altars.  The African tribes did not have altars nor shrines.  Nor did the bushmen of Australia.

Altars are really only important if you have a definitive priest class, who have advanced to a point where indoor ceremonies are the norm, as well as having that priest class somewhat removed from the populace in general and there is a need for a “Sacred Space” to be created indoors, as opposed to having that sacred space be wherever the priest happens to be.

Anyone else?  This is a good discussion.

Message: Africans
Author: DJW – OllahmLaoich Urchurdan

Date: Apr 29, 2000 18:51

Daven Wrote:
“For instance, Altars only seem to crop up in societies that have indoor rituals.  As such, it is probably that the Druids did not
use altars for their ceremonies, except as a convenience.  But the Egyptians, however, did.  As well as the Romans, and the
Greeks.  But the Native Americans (from circa 1500’s) did not.  But the Aztecs and Incas and other societies there did use
Altars for their rites and ceremonies.  The Japanese and Chinese did and did not.  They had shrines, but no altars.  The
African tribes did not have altars nor shrines.  Nor did the bushmen of Australia.”

Actually, the African comment makes a good point for innovation or evolution. The diasporic religions (Voodoo, Santeria, etc) use altars today, but as you point out, didn’t used to. I remember reading a book on West African Voodoo that had photos of altars being used around Togo (W.Afr.), but I think that was due to later foreign input.

OLU

Message: A teeny bit late…
Author: – Fleury CuChulainn, Patron

Date: Apr 29, 2000 19:20

Here is the alter, such as it is, I hope this is a better visual… for explanation as to what every thing is, please see my last post. 🙂  Oh, and sorry about the white background, I didn’t save just the picture, but the whole damned paint thing… whoops! Unfortunately, I don’t have time tonight to go back and fix it.  I’m actually pulling myself away from the computer and venturing into the real world for a while. *EG*  It won’t be long though… LOL

Oh, and I took an African History course a year ago, and although we didn’t get into any real depth on religious practices, we did look at it a little.  Historically, the various African religious practices were conducted by a limited number of people, much like the ancient North American Native traditions.  There was usually one person with the extensive knowledge, and usually psychic gifts and then a number of apprentices who helped during rituals and whatnot…  They did not have altars and shrines until the rise of Islam in the 6th century AD, and then colonization in the 1800’s.  The homes of the ‘priests’ housed all the holy implements but they weren’t usually set up in a shrine kind of situation, more like being stored in their appropriate places awaiting use. 🙂  That’s all I’ve got for now, but I’ll be back to this one for sure! 🙂

Message: Well, it’s good to know
Author: Relieved… – Message: Well, I got permission to post
Author: stunned –
Daven Iceni, Patron

Date: Apr 30, 2000 13:20

the notes I have been receiving from Nantonos Aedui.  Here’s the first one:

I appreciate that “Pagan Basics: A teaching thread.” is a private, invitation-only thread so I have not posted to it, but I think that you go a bit far in asserting that no-one other than the Druides ever conducted any ceremonies or rites or anything. That would be incredibly unusual, anthropologically, especially in times when religion was so intimately mixed with everyday life.

The quote that you are trying to remember, ‘”The Druids control the entire religious aspect of the Celts.  They MUST be present at every rite or ceremony so it is conducted correctly.” Or words to that effect …. ‘ is given as the introduction text on the Glade of the Carnutes thread.

I checked this link out and it is there, silly me.  I’m getting SOOOooooo lost.  LOL

In fact you seem to have argues that they did *not* use altars, either … although “offering platforms” at the edges of pools, springs, and marshes are attested in the historical record.

Do you consider that all of the hundreds of separate votive deposits for healing at the sources of the Seine were deposited by druids and by no-one else?

Clearly, in the Gallo-Roman period, altars were used (after the Roman and Greek fashion, though with substantial regional variations – the Loire-Atlantic-Pyrennes region and the Flemish region springing most obviously to mind).

Yes, you can post my original note (and indeed this one), with attribution.

Perhaps that is true, but I still believe that it was not a common practice, but we shall never know.  The offering platforms were a form of shrine, as were the Prayer Cloths, and many other things.  But I believe that the use of Altars by the Druids was an uncommon practice.

But, once again, I’m not sure about it.

Message: Here is an example of a shrine…
Author:Rona Cumhaill

Date: May 3, 2000 23:33

http://www.peachtree.druid.org/dedicants/shrine.htm Looking forward to comments on this!

Message: Good shrine info.
Author: DJW – OllahmLaoich Urchurdan

Date: May 4, 2000 02:06

Thanks for the URL. Some good info on the basics of shrine and altar building. Worth considering along with Daven’s excellent writing on the subject.

Message: Here we go…..
Author: questioning??? – myst Niall

Date: May 16, 2000 01:21

with all those questions bursting out from the lips.  LOL I have read all the posts on this thread and the one thing I have a problem with is the alters. Why do we need to have one? For me, I have a circular grove of five old growth cedar trees outside my back door. Inside these trees is the most awesome feeling of power and peace. Can I not use this? Or is there a path for tree worship? I only ask this because you said the only stupid question is one not asked!*smiling*

Message: Just a little comment……
Author: Ollamh Cainte – Thalada Parisii

Date: May 16, 2000 06:03

realizing how difficult it is to present the epic of history in three posts and the span of time and thought in a concise way.  It is most important to walk away from Daven’s discussion with a sense that there is a ton of truth out there waiting to be uncovered and each piece of truth serves to develop one’s thinking.  If there is anything a student should take away it is that they should feel compelled to challenge each piece of ‘fact’ they are presented with.  They should research and read and when they are done that they should do more.  There is no substitute for improving the process of learning better than the process of learning.

Daven, I don’t think you judged neo pagans harshly nor do I think you judged at all.  I agree with your views on Satanism mostly because I view it as an intrusive and reconstructionists religion…like many proselytizing christian religions.  With regard to Druidism it is unfortunately necessary to ‘interpolate’ where fact has been reduced to supposition.  Much was lost but the logic I think remains intact.  With that logic it is possible to deduce the philosophy of the Druids if not the precise religion.  As far as I am concerned that is the more important of the two anyway.

And perhaps a cut at Myst’s question as I happen to agree with her.  I’m not sure there is an absolute need for an altar but there is a need for a gateway to the power of place.  An altar, i think serves as a ritual gateway, the keys to which are embodied in the symbolic items and arrangement.  Following a ritual path allows one to unlock the door in a controlled, and I might add, safe way.  The grove might also have been used in this way by the Druids….it is the way I use it now.  But the ritual is still carried within us and the need for mastery and control is as important as ever.  Power is neither a good or bad force but it can manifest itself in ways that might be perceived as either good or bad when one does not have the ability to control the power.  Ritual, through an altar or through a trained mind, is the governor and steward of that power.

Message: Well said Thalada.
Author: Instructor – Daven Iceni

Date: May 16, 2000 22:24

The ritual and the “creation of the sacred space” and the “bringing the infinite to Earth” is the most important thing that we are trying to accomplish.  The props, or tools, don’t matter.

Use an altar if you wish to, or don’t as you wish also.  It is the mindset that is being perused here.  The frame of mind that says “This is a holy time, and a respectful time, a time where I am in connection with the ALL, and a time when I can be myself, without any masks or walls.”

Many in rituals, think that it has to be solemn, serious, and quiet.  It is this way with not only organized religion in chapels and temples, but also in more than one grove or circle.  And it really spoils the mood when someone trips over their robes.

If it were me, I would rather laugh at that point, when it is appropriate, and let the anger and the frustration wash away with a few hearty laughs, than to let the embarrassment of the moment kill the mood.

Anything that promotes the mood of joyfulness, celebration, awe, closeness, love and togetherness, is to be sought after, and embraced when encountered.  These are the states of mind that you are trying to create.  Don’t fear a laugh from a child, or a laugh from yourself, or a hearty “BLESS IT” when you spill wine on the Book of Shadows.

And if using a tree stump is right, within a circle of trees, do so.  If putting everything on the ground is even better, do it.  An altar is really only a convenience, nothing more.  It is a tool, just as the athame or the cup or cauldron is.

The reason I was harping on them so much was simply because they are in common usage amongst most NeoPagan/New Age/Wiccan groups.  Lots of the ceremonies and the words and symbols have been stolen (yes, I said stolen) from Ceremonial Magicians.  An Altar was one of those things taken.  But it really is not necessary.

One thing that I MUST drive home to each and every one of you is that religion is a personal path of self-discovery, a philosophy, a way of living your life, as you see fit.

Me sitting here in my home, typing these words cannot tell you the secret to life, or the nature of the universe.  That is something that you have to find for yourself.  I can tell you what I have found, but it will mean nothing to you without you discovering it for yourself.

It has been said that one who knows who he is, and where he came from, and what comes next, has no need for religion, or for philosophy, or for the secrets of the universe.  This is because he who has found all of that is already in possession of the answers that those things are trying to give you.  The only people who will understand the answers of the universe are those who have found those answers already.

So, use an altar if it will help you, or do not if you don’t think it will.  Whatever you need to promote that attitude you take into the Circle, use.  If it detracts from that attitude, don’t use it.

Symbols only work if they have meaning to you.  Words only work if they mean something for you.  These things are only important if they evoke an emotional response from you.  If a pentagram is meaningless to you, being told you have to have 50 or more of them around you in your rites, will do nothing for your state of mind, except distract you.

But if one sea shell, which you found on a beach when you were 3, and that your mother kept for you all these years, evokes the emotion that those pentagrams are supposed to evoke, the not using it in your ceremonies is a crime, in my opinion.

There are so many things I want to say and I want to teach now, that my mind is full to bursting….

But, another assignment.

“Grounding and centering” is a term that is thrown about in the Neo-(whatever) groups in recent years.  I first encountered this term in a book by Mercedes Lackey, and I have used it ever since.

This is the act of coming to peace inside your heart and head, and letting unwanted emotion drain away.  Centering, is the balance that one gets from things like meditation, sitting and relaxing, prayer.  It is a “wholeness” and a concentration on yourself and the area around you as part of a whole, not separate from it.  Grounding is to let anger, hate, envy, fear, and other negative emotions drain into the ground.  TO stay there, and never come back to you.

There are things that you can do to help with this.  One is to just listen.  I have several examples are:  listening to the stars sing, hearing the wind talk to the water, and hearing the water answer back, listening to the brook babble on about what it has seen, feeling the air blow all of the energy out of you, feeling the Earth spin on it’s axis, sitting with your feet in the lake, listening to the thoughts of a baby.

All of these are a type of centering.  Just doing these actions, and feeling the peace that comes with it is good.  And there are different triggers or helpers for each person.  My most powerful one is listening to the music the stars make.

I want all of you to practice this.  Find your helper or trigger.  Do it often, and do it for a long time.  Meditate if you wish, but get that “Connection” to Life in the Universe.  Feel that peace.  Post your reflections and your thoughts and insights if you wish, but do this.

Feeling that connection is the next step in all of this, because if you can’t feel it when you are doing it yourself, how can you know if you have created the same thing in the ceremonies, or how can you feel the energy you are raising?  You have to separate yourself first, and know what is you, and what is not you, before you can sort what is outside of you.

Let me know how this is coming with all of you, and then we will move on to energy work.

Message: It is so hard to believe
Author: tears of joy – myst Niall

Date: May 16, 2000 23:57

what you wrote Daven. I read and re-read it as I wiped the tears away. All my life I have listened to the wind whispering to me, the trees imparting their great wisdom, water laughing and chattering non-stop like naughty children. I have lain on the grassy knolls and felt the pure energy from the earth come up and envelope me like a safe cocoon. I hear the moon calling to me and in the quiet of night I hear it all come together. That is hard to explain ,it’s just a thing I know.*smile* To know this is the way I am supposed to be and not looked at sideways and hear people say ” nice lady, but a bit off you know.”  Well, all I can say is Thank You so very much. It is so very good to learn. Bless you!!!!

Message: Regarding the mindset principal….
Author:EponaDawn Catuvellauni

Date: May 19, 2000 02:30

Daven, I agree with what you said about mindset being the most important thing in ritual.  I have a make-shift altar that is by no means elaborate and use tools some people think are strange as opposed to the usual.  My athame is a letter opener given to my father by his company after he retired.  He is now deceased and I gain great power in holding it in my hand; I feel as if he is guiding me.  I am disabled, as well, so I find that performing some of the more strenuous rituals to be a strain.  But instead I have found true strength in simple meditation, pathworking, and visualization techniques.

I am curious to know if anyone here has done any pathworking as well.  I have met and conversed with deceased relatives whom I never met in life and faced fears I never knew I even had.  I know these are techniques are used by psychologists as well, but I often wonder if the philosophy of an earth-based religion might better serve to enhance this experience.

Even before I became Wiccan, I was doing things that would have been familiar to those practicing the craft, even though I didn’t know I was doing them.  I would lie down holding my cat closely (he actually liked it *g*), listen to his low-pitched purring and rhythmical breathing, and drift off into a trance-like state.  In this state I could see my everyday problems more clearly and more than once came away with solutions to them.

We should use whatever props get us in the mood for whatever undertaking we desire to carry out. I suppose the most basic teaching that Wicca has taught me is the rule of 3….I have learned very quickly just how true that is!

Message: Well, my comments on Myst’s and EponaDawn’s
Author: Master of Serpents – Daven Iceni

Date: May 20, 2000 01:24

posts are here:

EponaDawn:  I have heard of pathwork, but have no experience with it, other than living a lifestyle.  That is what I do.  No formal training in anything, other than what I have read and experienced.  But I am willing to tell you what I know as soon as I understand what you are refering to as “pathwork”.

myst:  I’m glad that my post touched you so strongly.  I did the same thing with Fleury in another post on another thread.  LOL  Seems to be a talent of mine.

But, I never said we weren’t weird.  To be “weird” you must deviate from the “norm”, and to do that we have to figure out what normal is.  Who defines “normal”?  Society does.  So what is society like?  Messed up.

If being happy and at peace with myself and the people around me make me weird and not normal, then I can put up with the snide comments, and the sideways looks.  No problem.

I would rather be happy instead of dead of a heart attack in about 6 years, or having a wife and daughter who dread seeing me, along with a bunch of co-workers who stick knives in my back.

I am weird, so are you.  So let’s be weird together and tell the world to take a hike off it’s own perceptions.  And let’s be happy.

Message: Kinda like daydreaming….
Author: the drowsy – EponaDawn Catuvellauni

Date: May 20, 2000 01:54

Sorry for the confusion y’all….Pathworking is just another word for daydreaming. My favorite one is to visualize a hedge maze, like the ones described in those good ole gothic novels. Enter and walk the maze. No need to worry about getting lost because you can end the visualization at any point. Just walk around and see who or what pops up. It’s doubtful anything really scary will happen as you are the one in control of this fantasy. If you come to a passage that you just don’t feel right about going down, just don’t. Theoretically, psychologists will say these paths we refuse to go down represent fears we are afraid to face. When the person doing the pathworking is ready to face that fear, the passage will no longer feel wrong to pursue. I sometimes fall asleep doing this and that’s ok too.

Nothing supernatural about any of this; in a relaxed state I find it easier to let my true feelings, wishes, and expectations come through. The people and objects you will meet in the maze represent only what’s most prominently on your mind.

At any rate, even if all of this is pure fantasy, it’s relaxing and can cure insomnia 🙂

Stars light your path.

Originally posted 2013-10-14 16:03:56. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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HomeBeginning Wicca, Classes, Witch Lesson 2; Altar Basics


Lesson 2; Altar Basics

Erin

Altar Basics

Message: While we are waiting for the assignment
Author: Teacher – Daven Iceni

Date: Mar 30, 2000 01:11

to bear some fruit that we can look at, let’s go on to another basic lesson.

Altar Basics 101

There are many parts to this, and much backtracking that will be necessary so that the proper perspective is presented.  The first part of this is the Tools.

The Tools are the implements that are on the Altar itself.  These are the things that (normally) would be used in a ritual.  They are usually things like your Athame (ah-THA-may) or magickal knife, the candles, the incense and other things.

In and of themselves (IMOHO and my learning) they don’t do anything.  They are simply objects.  Nothing more, nothing less.  The only meaning that they have is what you give to them.

A typical Altar will have the following items on them.  (And I am pulling from my own experience here, not all Altars will have these items on them, or even be used by the Pagan in question).

Candles
Ritual knife
Incense
Libation dish
Salt
Water
Chalice
Some sort of representation of the Gods
Ritual book
Pentacle
Sword

Sometimes associated with Altars, but not necessarily on the Altar except when needed are these items:

Staff
Cauldron
Carving knife (sometimes known as the White-handled knife)
Kerfan (to cut herbs with)
Cords
Scourge
Flowers (or other seasonal decorations)
Horned helm
Flowered headdress
Other tools to be consecrated
The Phallic Wand

All of these above are to do one thing: focus your attention.  (And I’ll probably be thrown out of the Pagan guild for giving this secret up.  LOL)

The tools are not there to do anything, but they serve the role of being an attention getter.  While your concentration is focused on the movements and gestures that are necessary to the ritual, and keeping the proper tool in your hand, all of your attention is on the ritual itself.  You are not daydreaming about your lover, worried about the problems in your life, wondering if you have enough money to get to payday.  Your attention is where it belongs, on the ritual itself.

It’s a crutch, granted, and one that most never get over, but it works.  It does its job of keeping your mind where it should be.

It also puts you in the mindset of spirituality when you are setting the things you need out.  Just the act of setting up the Altar “gets you in the mood” as it were.  This is also a benefit of having the tools and altar.

The tools themselves.  I will list the tool, and tell you a bit about it.  The correspondences we can leave for another lesson, but I will try to be brief.  *S*

Athame:  The Ritual Knife.  It is your main magickal tool.  You will use this for almost everything, including stirring things, and threatening to kill someone with it.  Don’t worry, you probably won’t have to follow through with it.

Candles:  Illumination (duh) and to represent Fire.  Or the Holy flame of the Gods.

Incense:  Smells good, and represents Air.  Carries the prayers up to the Gods in some Trads.  (Trad is a shorthand for “tradition” or a Pagan Denomination.)

Libation Dish:  Simply a bowl to put the food and drink offerings to the Gods in so they can be carried outside later.

Salt:  Bitter, to remind us that’s how life is.  Tastes like Semen (or so I’ve heard) and since fertility is important to many of these rites and rituals, you make the connection.  LOL  Also represents Earth.

Water:  Represents water (duh).  When mixed with the Salt, the combination is sacred water, and also can stand for the Sea, from where we all came.

Chalice: also Goblet, Horn and many other names.  A drinking glass with wine to toast the Gods with.

Representation of the Gods…. to represent the Gods?  Ummmm any problems with this concept?

Ritual book:  This is the book that most Pagans write the ceremonies down in, also spells, thoughts, feelings, insights.  Also called a Book of Shadows, The Tree, and other names.

Some Pagans split the Journal part of their BOS and the Ritual and ceremony part into different books.  The journal part is then called (in my experience) the Book of Mirrors, to reflect the soul.  This is what (ultimately) your notebook will become.  In this will be poems, thoughts and so on that you feel are special.  Many argue that these books should be hand-written, but I feel that it is alright if they are digital too.  Just so long as the information is preserved for you, if no one else.

Pentacle:  This is usually just a pentagram (a five-pointed star with a circle around it).  I use mine as a paperweight (comes in handy on windy nights) others use it for various reasons.  Mostly it’s there to represent all the elements.

Sword:  This is the Howitzer version of the Athame’s pop-gun.  It is simply an Athame for a group of pagans.  Usually a Coven.  It is usually handed down to the next generation of Pagans when it is necessary, and thus the power in it grows.

I can expand on the rest of the Tools, but I will leave that for another lesson.

Questions or comments, post here and I will respond as I can.  And then on to another lesson.  *S*

Message: Okay, next part:
Author: Teaching still – Daven Iceni

Date: Mar 31, 2000 00:30

Altar Basics 201: Symbology.

The tools, while important, are not all that you need to look at when assembling an Altar for your use.  You also need to decide what each tool will represent.

(and Fleury asked a good question today.  I am not saying that you MUST assemble an Altar now.  In fact, if you can get the basics for the ritual you will perform, you can wait to get the Tools you want for later.  I am still assembling my personal Altar, and probably will be for many years.  That way I can get EXACTLY what I want, but for now, I make due.)

As we know, there are four basic elements in the modern Wiccan tradition.  There are differing numbers in other paths, like Druidism which has three to nine, but Wicca has so influenced modern Paganism that you need to have at least a passing familiarity with the “party line”.  LOL

Earth
Air
Fire
Water

and I go as far as saying there is a fifth element too, Spirit.  Happily many modern Pagans are also adding this element to the mix.

Part of what will be happening in any ritual or rite is to try to invoke these elements into the rite.  (Invocation is to bring an internal quality out. Evocation, or summoning, is to bring an external quality in.  I break it down to say Invoking=inviting, evoking=forcing.)  Most modern Pagans will agree that even if Elementals don’t exist, that the element in question has a “will” or a “spirit” that is part of it.  When invoked, you are asking a friend to show up and help you if it chooses.

This is what the “Call to Quarters” or “Calling the Watchtowers” is all about.  Most working groups evoke (from my personal experience) these elements, forcing them to be present.  And there are arguments for and against this.  But a slave will never give his help unasked.  This is why I invite them, and never force them.

To the end of attempting to invoke, the Altar Tools have definite meaning.  I discussed this in the last lesson to a point, but each can also represent other things.  Such as

Incense can represent Air or Fire.  It burns, it is on fire.  It smokes, it represents Air.

Salt represents Earth, but since all the mineral salt on the land ultimately came from the Sea in the first place, it can represent Water too.

The Goblet can represent Water, or it can represent Earth for the Grapes that went into making the Wine.

The Pentagram represents all the elements…

The BOS represents Air from the ideas you have written down in there, and also Earth from the Trees that the paper makes up.

and so on….

My favorite multi-representational Tool is the Athame.  Many say it represents Air, since this is what it cuts, some say Water since this is what it is cooled in.  Others say Fire since that is what it was forged in, and still others say Earth since it is made from Iron.  Some say Spirit since you channel your energy through it.

But my read on this one is that it represents all of these elements for all of the above reasons.

So, you have to decide just what the H^&%^$%^ these tools mean to YOU personally.  You are the only one who can make this decision.  And once you have made this decision, don’t let anyone shake you from it.

Once you have decided what the various tools mean, and have assembled at least temporary items that you can use for that tool until you get ones that you are comfortable using in that role forever, you need to arrange your Altar.

Hang on, there’s more.

You must decide if you want your Altar oriented in a specific direction.  Oh, yes, direction plays an important part of this too.  You see, each element has a direction that it lives in too.

Betcha didn’t know it was so complex, did you?

What will follow is the normal and usual correspondences that occur with the directions and the elements.  Many practice this differently, and there are strong arguments in favor of changing the orientation.  I will give you what most modern Pagans believe, and then I will give you my directional correspondences, and my arguments for it (Don’t worry, I’ll make it brief) and I’ll let you decide for yourself.  Normal directions are:  North = Earth, East = Air, South = Fire, West = Water  and my directions are North=Air, East=Water, South=Earth and West=Fire.

You must understand that each element is associated with a gender, and a “feel” for the element itself.  What I believe to be the correct directions are this North=Air, East=Earth, South=Fire and West=Water.

I use the elements in the directions that I use them in is kind of easy, it’s the nature of the element in reality.  If you think of Air, it is usually associated with the North in many legends and stories.  As such, if you think of a Compass Rose, and place Air there, the logical place to put Earth is beneath it.  Earth supports Air.  Air rests on Earth.  Air is not under the Earth, but on it.  Air cannot mix with the Earth, and if it were not for Earth, Air would not be (see plants and giving off oxygen) and without Air, the Earth would not be fertile.

The same holds true for the Water-Fire arguments.  Water can mix with Air, and Water rests on the Earth, it is between them.  Fire is fed by Air and by the combustibles of the Earth.  Fire creates Air, and fertilizes the Earth, Water can make Air (in the form of Water vapor) and it nourishes the Earth, and so on.  It’s Hobson’s choice as to which direction specifically you place the Fire and Water on the Rose.  I put them where I did due to the life cycle when I made this directional association.

Air is the realm of the spirit.  It is where you are before you are born.  Once in a body, you come out of the Waters of Life, or the amniotic fluid of your mother.  As you grow, you become involved in the Earth and the prosperity and fertility of your life.  As you age, you become knowledgeable and older, and your body begins to burn out.  Like the canvas-cleaning fire of another post.  Once dead, you return to the realm of the Air, to start over.

But this is my opinion.  I will give you links to other places that have other arguments for the different directions.

Once you decide which element each tool represents, then you must decide which direction to put the element in on your Altar.  Then you need to decide the orientation of the Altar itself.  You will be facing one direction most of the time while you are doing your rituals, so you need to decide WHY you orient your Altar in a particular direction.  Are you hoping to increase your knowledge, the point it to the North and the Air.  Hoping for fertility in your life (either in a job or in prosperity, or as in having a child), then point it toward the direction you have chosen for Earth.  But make sure you are facing that particular direction.  Then all you have to do is to lay your tools out in a pattern that you wish to.  Usually it is based in ease of using.

Normal Altar

This is what a “normal” Altar’s setup would be.  As you can see, the “fire” representation, or Candle is in the upper area of the Altar.  If one assumes that this is oriented on the North, the the Fire is in the North, the Air (censer) is in the South, the Salt (earth) is in the West and the Water is in the East.  I know that both the Salt and the Water are on the right side of the Altar, but work with me here….

Daven's Altar

This is my Altar.  It is laid out a bit differently from most simply because I have two representations of the Fire here.  One for the Lord and one for the Lady.

I have not really set it up with elemental correspondences since the Athame holds all five elements in it already, and any more is redundant.  I laid this out for ease of use.  The Athame is missing because it would normally be on my belt, or in the place of the Tree, or my Book of Shadows.  Normally I don’t work with a fixed ritual, I go with what feels right.  I also went for an aesthetically pleasing layout.

But this is entirely up to you.

Now, Assignment number two:

Design your Altar layout, and draw it out.  Place the tools you will be using on the Altar itself. Tell me why you decided to put this particular item there, and what it represents to you.  If you can, put it here digitally in your WebPages so I can look at it.  Or if you have a scanner, scan the picture in, and do the same thing.  But I want to see it.  You can even do it this way:

_______________________________
|           Candle             |
|                              |
|  Salt                Water   |
|                              |
|           Censer             |
|______________________________|

and so on.  Just so long as there is a representation of what you want it to ultimately look like.  Write this and draw it in your notebook, and be sure to say WHY you put this here, and that there, and what it means.

Keep in mind, that if using a particular item or tool is not what you want to do, you have that option.  Don’t use it.  If it makes you uncomfortable to have a Sword on your Altar, don’t put it there.  This is what you will be working with.

There is no time limit on this, but I would like to see it in about three to four weeks.  Do it as you have time to do it.

Next lesson, I will go more into depth on each tool, and the materials of the Altar itself.

Message: Lesson: Next
Author: Still going….. – Daven Iceni

Date: Apr 2, 2000 21:36

Altar basics 301: More detail

Okay, here I will give you some information that just about any Priest or Priestess of a Pagan tradition has, and none ever think about.  And if you asked them these questions, they would probably look at you as though you were insane.

MATERIALS OF THE ALTAR ITSELF

In a word, anything your heart desires.  But some materials are more preferred than others.

To get the most out of your Altar, it should be of the materials found in nature.  Wood or stone work best, but wood is best of all.  A stump outside is good (very) and a wooden table inside is alright.

I find that some of the residual energy that was part of the tree in life lingers after death.  So a wooden table that has been lovingly crafted into a specific shape will retain more of that energy than most any other kind of table.

You must understand a basic concept here.  Energy, metaphysical energy, is a real thing.  It can be held, thrown, played with, shaped, and wasted.  But it’s real.  This energy is in every living thing, and a lot of things that aren’t alive too.  Nothing is dead, so far as metaphysics is concerned.

With that in mind, the energies in crafted things are part of the craftsman.  By taking the time to make an object, he invests a part of himself into the object he is making.  This happens all the time, and most don’t realize it at all.

Think for a moment, haven’t you ever sat down and crafted something, spent time and effort working on it, and felt some connection to that object ever afterwards?  That is this principal in action.  It can only be done if you decide to take the time to work on it to the exclusion of most of your life.  And only if you focus and concentrate on making that object (or poem or story, etc) the best that it can be.

So, a hand-crafted table is one step down from a stump in the yard, what about a mass made table?

Well, that’s okay.  Wooden and well cared for.  And if you can’t get that?  Use anything that you need to for your Altar.  A desk, a piece of wood between some cinder blocks, a metal card table.  Any of those will work.  It’s the symbol in your mind that makes the Altar special.

And if you look around garage sales and such, you will find a lot of items that you may not think of as belonging on an Altar.  I found many things in places like that.  You can usually get them fairly cheep too.

So, if anything will work for an Altar, why am I talking about what the Altar is made of as being important?  Well, once again, it gets you in the “mood”.  If the Altar is special, then getting it out and setting it up will send a signal to your unconscious mind telling it to get into a “reverent” attitude.  And this is all for the good.

That plus having the Altar that has some energy in it from when it was alive will help you have more of a “spiritual connection” with it.  This is one of the reasons we work on our tools when we decide to use them and then consecrate them too.

What do I mean?  Consecrate?  Work on?  Whaaaaaa?

THE TOOLS

Working on your tools is recommended for many reasons.  You may have to jury rig an object that you found in a yard sale to look like what you want it to.  Like pasting flowers on a glass hurricane lantern, for decoration.  Or coloring a King from a chess board brown for the Lord, and so on….  It is this connection that will make these more special to you, and make it easier for you to do your Work in the Circle.

If you make no alterations to anything else, you should at least make some kind of alteration to your Athame.  It will channel your energy, so anything you do to it will make that transfer more efficient and more personal.

Now, having touched obliquely on it, let’s discuss the tools themselves.

Athame, Sword and Wand:  As far as rituals are concerned, these are interchangeable.  It does not matter which you choose to use, for they all do the same thing, channel energy from you to somewhere else.  Different symbols mean different things, and that is the only distinction between them.

Working in a group setting, one would use the Sword for energy channeling where everyone is focused on the same goal.  However, in that same setting, if you were doing this energy work for a personal reason, you might choose to use your Athame to channel the energy you absorbed.  The want (in my experience) is only used in specific rituals to represent the Phallus.

Specifically, the Sword and the Athame should be double-edged.  This multiple cutting edge represents the fact that this tool can be used to harm or heal.  One edge is used to destroy, but the same knife can cut out a cancer too.  In Dune, Frank Herbert brings up the “Philosophy of the Knife”:  “Cutting off that which is useless and declaring ‘now it is complete, because it ends here'”.  That is what the double edge represents.

Never knew that EVERYTHING would be some kind of symbol, did you?

Staff, Spear:  These symbols are for general use.  To mark the Circle outside, one would use either of these and simply draw a Circle so that the borders are defined.  But, the Staff is also used in some traditions as a substitute for the Athame or Wand.

White handled knife, Bolleen, Kefran, Carving knife:  These are utility knives, but you can easily substitute your Athame for any of these.  The Kefran and white handled knife are the same thing.  It is for carving symbols on candles, amulets, cutting string, cord or any other “utilitarian” use that you want.  I personally think this is silly.  Why have multiple knives when one will do?

The Bolleen is used for cutting herbs at the proper time.  It is a specialized knife, usually curved in the blade and able to be used by one hand.  A sickle is a good example.  But once again, why?  The Athame will do just as well.

And in my opinion (but this is a minority opinion in the Pagan community in general) the more you use your Athame for everyday mundane tasks, the closer your connection to it, and the stronger your energy when you use it in ritual.

Cords:  These are spell-cords of the old style that you read about in the literature of the Witches.  The ones that supposedly contained the wind?  You know these cords….  Well, here they are again.  You can store power in those knots you make in the Cord to be released later.  We will cover this more in depth once we start talking about spells.

Scourge:  Well, here is something right out of the Inquisition.  The Catholic Church holds that mortification of the flesh will release the spirit.  In some ways they are right.  This is exactly what the scourge is used for.  Except instead of striking hard, it’s swung lightly to move the blood away from your brain and to other parts of the body.  Gardnerinian and Alexandrean traditions use this to achieve “spirit sight” and Astral Projection.  But they have someone with them, and someone who has gone through this before.

Before use, each of these need to be consecrated or blessed and dedicated to the service of the Gods before it is used in Circle.  You don’t have to consecrate things like the Candles and the Incense, but the re-usable things you do.

I’ll give you the specific consecration later when we begin the section on Rituals.

These objects that are on the Altar will pick up the energy that you create in the Circle as part of your Rites.  You can’t help it, and this is good.  Like attracts like.  Objects of Power (like your Athame and your Sword) will start drawing energy into them and acting as a “battery” for that energy.  You will be able to tap into it at any point and use it for what you decide to.

That’s the end of this section.  If you have questions, post them here.  I can go two ways from here.  I can either post about the History of Paganism, or I can post about Energy.  I leave it up to you to decide, but you will have both eventually.  😉

Message: My Altars
Author: DJW – OllahmLaoich Urchurdan

Date: Apr 23, 2000 19:45

I currently have three altars, but am thinking of a fourth. The main one I keep up all the time is my ancestral altar. It has a resin skull with Celtic motifs all over it. There’s a statue of one of our soldiers (lest we forget), an apple (symbol of life) and a wreath I created for a departed friends funeral in the shape of a triskel.

When doing the four Holy Days (Samhain, Lughnasadh, Imbolg, Beltane), I put up a temporary altar in the back yard (so I can use the BBQ for the fire aspects).

In the past I’ve also had the traditional tools set up on a specific ‘work’ altar.

OllahmLaoich

Message: My altar pictures didn’t turn out
Author:Rona Cumhaill

Date: Apr 24, 2000 10:49

and I don’t know why, since I usually take good photos. It occurred to me that maybe I’m not supposed to capture these images on film. So I will just describe my two altars and hope my words work better than the camera did.

As I mentioned before, I have 2 altars. The smaller and more informal of the two is in the hall between my living room and kitchen, in the most heavily traveled part of my home. I use this altar more as a reminder, a touchstone in my everyday comings and goings, and it is very user-friendly: that is, sometimes my friends, no matter what their spiritualities, will pause in front of it for a quiet moment, or even bring an offering to add to it. Being an artist by profession, I have made this informal altar into a kind of personal collage of my spirituality, with bits and pieces of meaningful stuff I’ve found along my path. When an object loses its meaning/purpose, or when I feel I’ve outgrown it, I take it away. The table is actually an art deco pedestal, round and pillar-like, about a foot in diameter. The only object that remains permanent is a four inch tall terra cotta statue of the Venus of Willendorf, whom I call “Big Mama.” Right now, there is a vase holding a few daffodils behind Her, a large seashell that holds a smudge stick, two jasmine-scented white candles that are almost burned down (from Spring Equinox) on either side of the vase, an owl feather I found in a special place on a special day, and cluster of quartz crystals. Right now there is also a photo of myself when I was five years old holding a cluster of dandelions, and “Big Mama” is decorated with a tiny necklace of yellow and green beads that were specially made for her by a little girl who visits me quite often. (she always talks to Big Mama and it is not unusual for her to bring presents *S*) On the wall behind this altar hangs a mirror, which is connected with it in a way. When anyone stands there, they are always looking back at themselves. *S*

My private altar is in the bedroom and is set up for my own rituals and meditations. Two white candles are on either side to the back of a wicker table. The table is covered with a piece of pale green silk right now – I change it to match the color of the seasons. On the wall behind the altar hang two small clay plaques which I made myself, representing the God and Goddess, in the style of cameos. On the western side of this altar is a silver bowl which I fill with Water when in use. The altar itself faces magnetic north, by the way. A large geode sits between the two candles for north and Earth. On the eastern edge of the altar is my incense burner and a large feather to fan the charcoal or sage as it burns. (Air) And to the front (south) is a round, fat flame-colored pillar candle, scented with cinnamon for Fire. I do not use an athame or metal blade in my rituals, instead there is an obsidian arrowhead which serves me just as well. Under my altar I store my other ritual tools: a supply of assorted incense, extra candles & holders, essential oils for anointing, a box of sea salt, the book into which I copy rituals and notes, a scrying mirror, a special plate for feast-food *S* and a special cup for libations.

So I guess that’s it. I should add, at this point, that before I entered Daven’s class I was taught for two years by other teachers who obviously have a slightly different view – but I don’t see a huge clash in their respective “traditions”. I thought I should mention their influence, however, because they are the ones who guided me in setting up my first altar.

Message: Rona, that sounds lovely
Author: Teacher – Daven Iceni, Patron

Date: Apr 25, 2000 11:58

Rona's Private Altar

and I think this is what you were describing?  I got it as close to what you said was there as possible.

This is what, from your description, your private Altar would look like?  The other altar, in your hall, could more properly be called a shrine to the Spirits of the House.  Or the house Kami (sorry, I’m re-reading Shogun).  I take it you are leaving small offerings, and changing them out as you need to?  Perhaps some incense burning all the time?  Or perhaps a candle?

Okay, from what I also read, your elemental associations are Air=East, Fire=South, Water=West, and Earth=North.  Interesting, may I ask you why?

It’s good that you have representations of all the elements on your altar.  I am glad you did that.  And thought about it enough to make those associations.  Well done.

Have you thought about making the cameo pictures of the Lord and Lady for sale?  I know I would be interested in getting some like that.  Right now, mine are small pictures (photocopies and not even wallet sized) in small frames sitting in front of the Lamps.  LOL

What colors do you change the cover to at what point in the season?  Do you have a particular cycle that you go through?  If so, what is it?

Share, please.

Good job other than that.

Message: Okay, here goes…
Author: taking a deep breath – Fleury CuChulainn
Date: Apr 27, 2000 16:26

I got inspired to do the first set of my altar last night. It was the final break down and purchase of a small African sculpture that I’ve coveted for some time that gave me the inspiration. The sculpture is small, about the size of your hand, not quite as wide, and thin when turned sideways. Its is entitled Mother and Child and it dawned on me that she was the goddess image I’ve had in my head. So, with sculpture in hand, off I went. I tried to draw it this afternoon but it didn’t turn out, so I’ll describe it and make another artistic attempt tomorrow. 🙂

My alter itself may change, for its rather low to the ground. It is an antique blanket box that smells wonderfully of old wood when you lift the top. Its about two feet long and one foot wide. At the back, in the centre is my goddess statue. She’s carved out a beautiful forest green stone. On either corner at the back are candles. They are forest green and are in crackle glass candle holders… the holders will change when I find something more appropriate, but its attractive for now. 🙂 Slightly forward and between the goddess and candles, on either side, I have two medium sized abalone shells. I will use the smaller one for salt and the larger one for libations. In the front corners, I have two strange stones that can be used for cutting. They’re hard to describe but they are thin (about 1/4 of an inch thick) but have a very flat, wide, smooth surface. They are a beautiful shade of blue and the patterns within the stone actually look like waves in the ocean. One is bigger than the other but both have sharp edges and can quite adequately cut things (I tested them *G*) In the centre of the altar, centred with the goddess but closer to the front, I have a deep green crystal ball on a dragon stand. The only pentacle I have at the moment is a silver charm on silver chain. I don’t wear it all the time so I brought it out and looped the back of the chain around the goddess and the front around the crystal ball where it rests against the stand, so the pentacle hangs down in front of and below the ball. On either side of the crystal ball, between it and the stones is my chalice and incense holder. To the west is my incense holder, a golden cone holder but I may interchange that with my plain wooden stick holder depending on what incense I’d prefer to use. To the east will be my chalice but I’m not sure what that will be yet.

So if that’s any kind of visual… Now I’ll explain where it is and how its positioned. Its in my living room, beside my sofa. It faces South. I’m not sure why but I’ve always felt more grounded when I thought of South… its always represented the Earth to me but I can’t say for certain why. Perhaps I live far enough north that I think of all the land to the south *LOL* Who knows. North to me has represented Air since the first awe-inspiring time I saw the aurora borealis. ’nuff said! *S* East has always represented Water to me, since I was born on the other side of the Atlantic ocean… it is the great water to the east that stands between me and my birthplace. That pretty much leaves the West with fire… kind of a default I guess. *G*

Any other symbolism to me… um, the abalone shells seemed poignant for holding salt and libations. The stones as cutting implements are interesting since they look like water but are solid enough to cut, but I’m not sure if they’ll remain there. They may just be interim. The crystal ball (to me) represents the spirit, for with it you can see into the heart of the truth…

I guess that’s about it, I apologize if this is a bit long… I’ll have a graphic up tomorrow, I promise. 🙂

Message: More on altars?
Author:Rona Cumhaill

Date: Apr 27, 2000 16:51

Thanks for making the illustration for me, Daven, it looked perfect the way you drew it. *S* Yes, I guess my one altar would be more of a house shrine, since there are offerings made there and it changes all the time. One of my friends who happens to be Haitian described it as “feeding the loa” so it is similar to that idea.

The directional associations with the elements I learned from my first teachers and they seem to make sense to me – North being the place of greatest darkness (Earth – caves & deep mysteries), East being the place of birthing & sunrise (Air – first breath), South being the brightest, hottest direction (Fire) and West being the place of sunset & change/death (Water).

Other people have asked me if I’ve considered making and selling the God/Goddess cameos. Maybe someday I will. It feels funny to think about putting a price on them, if you know what I mean.

I change the color of the altar silk 8x a year. Beltane will be a rich emerald green. Summer Solstice will be yellow, Lughnasadh gold, Autumn brown, Samhain black, Yule red, Imbolic white, then we’re back to pale green again. I picked these colors because they seem to harmonize with the times of the year.

Well, I’ll be moving into my new apartment, so I’ll be offline until after this weekend.

Message: Altars and Shrines
Author: DJW – OllahmLaoich Urchurdan

Date: Apr 27, 2000 20:35

How does each person here differentiate between an altar and a shrine. I’m thinking maybe in terms of activity, an altar being more active. Maybe my altars are really shrines.

OL U

Message: As usual it was wonderful….
Author: Ollamh Cainte – Thalada Parisii

Date: Apr 28, 2000 08:47

catching up…..there is so much richness in the thinking of people in general that to determine that any association is not valuable seems wasteful to me.  Still we must all follow the ones that call us most strongly and often that means leaving ones that call us less so.  Such is the nature of humanity.  The Wiccan way never called me, perhaps because at times of exposure to it  in my life I still suffered from the fetters of conventional christian thinking even though those bonds are lond dead.  Druidic philosophy has always called me, from my earliest life in the woods with my father, and I am gladdened that it is not so far apart from Wicca in the end.

I share Fleury’s deep concern with being true to my beliefs and the consequences to my self if I should act hypocritically.  Not to take away from the power of the symbology employed in Wicca but my philosophy brooks the existence of no gods (I often even have fits over capitalizing the word) and many spirits.  There is spirit to all things but no embodiment of divinity any more or less relevant than our own soul.  It can be said that, as I believe it, ‘I have found God and he is me’…which is I think exactly analagous to the principal philosophies of most major religions (Christian included when all is said and done).

My altar I carry with me….and I don’t mean that wholly metaphorically.  I am always with my pen and book for writing.  I feel incomplete without it.  I write down what I observe or feel, and later reflect on it.  It is all I need..that and the physical reality of a most beautiful world.  The power I believe is in the recognition of beauty and the single act of will that allows the underlaying energy of beauty to flow into you.  Doing something with it thereafter is another act of will that requires a trained mind to make the most of.  Tapping into energy this way has become the easiest of habits such that one need only remember something to get a boost from it.  Such as simple thing we all do and yet we rarely understand the significance.

But that is my own Druidic practice…there is both far more to it and nothing more to it than that.  The only difference is within the fulcrum of the trained and rigorous mind to discern truth and the vigorous will to act on it.

Message: Well OllahmLaoich,
Author: Dictionary Man – Daven Iceni

Date: Apr 28, 2000 12:17

I don’t really know how to describe the differences.  Mostly I go by how the Altar is used, and to whom the altar is too.

Right now, I am using Altar as a general term.  However, I will make it a definite distinction in a bit.

A shrine, in my estimation, changes a lot.  Things are added and taken away, offerings left, symbols changed as the mood strikes, and usually dedicated to one spirit or entity.  Thus, you could have a shrine for the Garden Spirit, the House Spirit, the Kitchen (Fire) Spirit, and so on.

On the other hand, an Altar, by my experience, is somewhat static.  Don’t get me wrong, an Altar changes just as anything else, just not as rapidly as a shrine.  An altar is usually dedicated to many Gods or Spirits, and it is used for ceremonies and rites, where as the shrine is generally left alone, or a quick prayer may be said at a shrine.

Altars are in Holy Places and centers of Worship.  Shrines tend to be in places of meditation and contemplation.

A Hospital chapel could be seen as having both an Altar and a Shrine.  It serves the functions of both, but usually the Altar will be one place, and the Shrine will be in another.  So too, can a Catholic Church be seen as having many shrines and one Altar.  The shrines are set up just before the alcoves where the Saint’s statues are.

A Voodoun has a Shrine, and no Altar.  The shrine is large, and the gifts to the Loa are placed there, and believe me, it changes rapidly.

The Buddhists have shrines, but I don’t know if they have Altars.  They might, but I don’t remember seeing them.  And the Shrines are spread all over the country.

Most Pagan (meaning Wiccan in this instance) groups have an Altar.  They are primarily used for holding the ritual objects.  In some traditions, however, they are also the throne for the High Priestess.  She is the only one who can sit on the Altar.  This activity, however, is generally only found in those traditions that venerate the Mother, to the exclusion of the Father.  And thus, the HPS is the leader, no questions.

As to Druidic practice, I have no idea.  I would assume from archeological evidence that the Druids used SOME kind of Altar during their worship, but there is little evidence that I know of.  (If anyone has evidence supporting this, please let me know about it.)

In general terms, an Altar is static used for ritual.  A shrine is dynamic, used for prayer and meditation.

If you wish, set up a shrine someplace special to you.  Visit daily, and spend a few moments there.  Feel the energies that you are trying to bring to that place.  Call a spirit to that shrine, and dedicate it to that spirit.  It should come and reside there, and make the shrine it’s place.

There really is no plan to a shrine.  Generally, there can be candles, flowers, pictures, and such on the shrine, but it is really (REALLY) up to what the spirit moves you to put up there.  If, for some unknown reason, you get a feeling that you should put some Vodka there, get a small bottle, open it, and put it on the shrine, and leave it alone.  What you put on the shrine is literally an offering to that spirit there.  Anything that goes there should be with the attitude that you do not need it back, and if it is removed, take it outside and put it in the Earth.

Most times, the spirits of the shrines get offended if you take something back that you have given them.

Have fun.

Continued —>

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