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Author Topic: How do you design your altar?  (Read 3715 times)
Fauna
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« Topic Start: January 28, 2011, 01:18:50 pm »

After becoming very frustrated when re-making my altar, I've come to your good people for advice. How do you design your altars (or shrines or any related sort of thing)?

Right now I have some nice symmetrical pieces, but nothing as a focal point (I used to have a candle but because my new altar is on bookshelves, putting a candle as the focal point means that it blackens the wood above).
« Last Edit: January 28, 2011, 01:26:33 pm by RandallS, Reason: Subject Changed » Logged

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« Reply #1: January 28, 2011, 02:45:41 pm »

After becoming very frustrated when re-making my altar, I've come to your good people for advice. How do you design your altars (or shrines or any related sort of thing)?

Right now I have some nice symmetrical pieces, but nothing as a focal point (I used to have a candle but because my new altar is on bookshelves, putting a candle as the focal point means that it blackens the wood above).

Depending on Whom it is for, there are a lot of options for a focal point. Statues, symbols, ritual instrument, or simply a bowl or dish were offerings are presented. Is it a shrine for one deity, a set of deities, or a general altar?

Helio
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« Reply #2: January 28, 2011, 04:11:29 pm »

Depending on Whom it is for, there are a lot of options for a focal point. Statues, symbols, ritual instrument, or simply a bowl or dish were offerings are presented. Is it a shrine for one deity, a set of deities, or a general altar?

Helio

It's for a few, not just one god. The problem with having one god-identifying symbol or statue in the centre means it doesn't feel 'balanced' anymore. I don't have an instrument and my offering bowl is too small and already has a place (if I move that I'll have a whole new area to fix lol.
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« Reply #3: January 28, 2011, 05:29:24 pm »

It's for a few, not just one god. The problem with having one god-identifying symbol or statue in the centre means it doesn't feel 'balanced' anymore. I don't have an instrument and my offering bowl is too small and already has a place (if I move that I'll have a whole new area to fix lol.

lol I see what you mean.

The solution may be a composite. For instance, a framed drawing or a clay plaque with the symbols of the gods to whom the shrine is dedicated. It would be a single piece for a single centre, but paying homage to several deities.
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« Reply #4: January 28, 2011, 11:13:28 pm »

After becoming very frustrated when re-making my altar, I've come to your good people for advice. How do you design your altars (or shrines or any related sort of thing)?

I think you'll find this true of a lot of people, but my altar has been a fairly ad hoc affair. I've built up what I have over time. It can be frustrating sometimes, but it really works out for the best that way.
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« Reply #5: January 29, 2011, 10:23:43 am »

I think you'll find this true of a lot of people, but my altar has been a fairly ad hoc affair. I've built up what I have over time. It can be frustrating sometimes, but it really works out for the best that way.

I like to try different locations like window sills, especially during a full moon. sometimes I'll set up an altar on a table for a special celebration, like Easter. I love to use seasonal decorations and items that are symbolic and meaningful for the deity that is having a holiday at that time. This time of year I'm doing an altar to Brigid.

I like to include greenery on my altar space, a small potted plant or some little trailing vines. I like the green and living energy that it adds to a sacred space. I want to create a little sacred terrarium this year.

I'm making a pocket altar for Hekate in a tin to take with me in my truck. If you are really pressed for space you could dedicate a shelf in your bathroom cabinet too. I have special altar cloths that I have sewn for different seasons. If you don't sew you could purchase lovely table runners for your altar cloth.

Oh, you can buy flame less candles that are battery operated. To spare your shelves the smoke.
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« Reply #6: February 06, 2011, 07:33:34 pm »

How do you design your altars (or shrines or any related sort of thing)?
 ... but nothing as a focal point

I have no real method for how my altars are arranged.  Other than I like odd numbers.

As for your focal point, have you considered negative space?  Having an empty spot as the focal point.  Someplace reserved for noone and everyone.
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« Reply #7: February 06, 2011, 07:47:42 pm »

After becoming very frustrated when re-making my altar, I've come to your good people for advice. How do you design your altars (or shrines or any related sort of thing)?

Right now I have some nice symmetrical pieces, but nothing as a focal point (I used to have a candle but because my new altar is on bookshelves, putting a candle as the focal point means that it blackens the wood above).

I made a simple wall altar by hand. Had some help with of my father so it was also a family event "which empower by default" I held a little ritual after to bless the altar "Hammer ritual "involves the mjolnir" As for the focal point, i have a bowl which is use for sacrifise which is the center of it. And as for placement, i have it in an empty place with a phoenix above it. Now i know that the phoenix itself is not part of asatru. It is however a symbol of rebirth. And i consider myself reborn as a pagan. Hense the phoenix.

Legion.
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« Reply #8: February 07, 2011, 12:08:21 am »

How do you design your altars (or shrines or any related sort of thing)?

Well, I'm lucky enough to have a space for a designated table-top altar. (Stole an awesome hexagonal side table from my parents, which makes my brain very happy because of the uniqueness of it) I go with a simple shawl as a cloth; candle in the center; patron on the left by himself, other gods squished on the right because it keeps the patron happy; small “puzzle” box holding my amulet (which I wear whenever I leave the house) set at the candle base. It’s not symmetrical but I aim for balance more than symmetry. I keep relevant “tools” (a book and pen for recording things, deck of divinatory cards, and box of assorted trinkets) under the table so they don’t clutter the space.

In the past I have done shelf altars and put the candle in one of those candle lantern things hung from a hook near the shelf. (Pro tip: If you try that, remember where you’ve hung it before doing sweeping arm gestures as part of the ritual). When I had to get rid of the candles (i.e. lived in a dorm) I did try electric candles, but it just didn’t feel right. I ended up preferring to just sit in darkness or try to find a space on the floor where I could catch a few moonbeams from outside.
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« Reply #9: February 14, 2011, 08:41:18 am »

How do you design your altars (or shrines or any related sort of thing)?

I have an altar in my "semi-walk-in" closet. (It is possible to walk into and sit in, but not a lot of space and such.)

It is a table on wheels. It is black and in the front it curves so someone can stand in front of or sit in front of on a stool.

In the front is a woven offering bowl for the larger offerings, to the left of the large bowl is a smaller glass dish. To the right of the large bowl is a glass cup for liquid offerings. In the middle of the table is a god and goddess candle. I keep my goddess candle on the right because I feel closer to her. Around the candle is a bracelet made out of sea stones.

In the back of the table is a water jug. To the right and left are two mini chalices that I use to hold herbs or whatever good smelling mixture I concoct. I also have a tiny dish of salt, and a glass heart used to hold some more herbs. I also have two green candles to the right and left of the god and goddess candles just because they felt right there and smell yummy.
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« Reply #10: February 15, 2011, 03:45:29 am »

After becoming very frustrated when re-making my altar, I've come to your good people for advice. How do you design your altars (or shrines or any related sort of thing)?

Right now I have some nice symmetrical pieces, but nothing as a focal point (I used to have a candle but because my new altar is on bookshelves, putting a candle as the focal point means that it blackens the wood above).
I place things on my alter based on associations with the particular elemental directions.
ie feminine things I place more towards the north/west part of my alter surface.
the things i have as representations of the deities rather than tools and elemental representations are small and symbolic,I have no statues of particular dietys.
I recently added some keys and a piece of metal in a T shape for Hecate symbolism and those are just wherever space allows.
I made a veve flag on red cotton for eshu/legba and pinned that to the wall above the 'back' of my alter.
that's about it.
nothing exactly special to it.
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« Reply #11: February 20, 2011, 08:07:43 pm »

I have no real method for how my altars are arranged.  Other than I like odd numbers.

As for your focal point, have you considered negative space?  Having an empty spot as the focal point.  Someplace reserved for noone and everyone.

Ooo negative space is an interested idea, I'd never even considered it I have to be honest. Guess what I will be pondering about all night now? :p
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« Reply #12: February 21, 2011, 08:25:08 pm »

Ooo negative space is an interested idea, I'd never even considered it I have to be honest. Guess what I will be pondering about all night now? :p

I had never thought about it explicitly either until now.  I have three icons gathered together, so the space in the middle of the triangle is negative space by default.  That central point is what holds them together.
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« Reply #13: February 21, 2011, 08:59:01 pm »

How do you design your altars (or shrines or any related sort of thing)?

I always try to have a centerpiece for my shrine(s) or altar. My only setup right now is my shrine to Anpu, and in the center is His statue. I like to keep things relatively free of clutter and symmetrical. I also try to keep to a specific color scheme; right now, this one is white, light blue, and gold. On one side of the statue, I have fake flowers and my incense burner, and one other, I have a candle, a fake lotus blossom, and a small glass cobra. There's a lot of negative space in front of all these things for when I make offerings.
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« Reply #14: February 22, 2011, 02:09:23 pm »

After becoming very frustrated when re-making my altar, I've come to your good people for advice. How do you design your altars (or shrines or any related sort of thing)?

Right now I have some nice symmetrical pieces, but nothing as a focal point (I used to have a candle but because my new altar is on bookshelves, putting a candle as the focal point means that it blackens the wood above).

I have a small coffee-table-esque altar, with a white altar cloth (it's really more like a towel, actually - thick like that), and a thinner, more seasonal, altar cloth on top of the first one. In the center/front of the table I have a main shrine dedicated to Persephone (and the other Hellenic Gods, in spirit; I'd love to own more statues other than Her's someday when I have more money, and perhaps a larger table...!), where there is Her statue, a red chalice, a large pomegranate pillar candle, a black incense burner (only used for the Olympian Gods/other Deities and spirits, because you don't normally offer incense to the Underworld Deities like Persephone), an offering plate and an oil burner. When it gets warmer I plan to put real flowers on this shrine, too.

Behind the main shrine I have two smaller spaces: on the right is a small shrine to my ancestors (representative of my family and "The Jews"), where there are two silver shabbat candlesticks from my great-grandmother and a silver kiddush (wine) glass from my mother. There is a white pillar candle behind these items, as well as a small broom for cleansing the space (my mother always loved brooms). On the left there is an area where I keep other, extra items that I usually only use when doing ritual, or when, in the past, I did spells (a bowl of salt, herbs, more incense, extra oil, etc.). I don't really do much magic/spellwork anymore, but may in the future, who knows. I like keeping those things there in any case.

Underneath my altar table there is a shelf space where I keep all my extra candles, candle-holders, religious books, seasonal items, and other random things (such as, for example, the Lord of the Rings extended edition DVD box set - my pride and joy!) I change my top altar cloth as the seasons change - right now I  have a flowery Spring-time one out, mostly because Persephone seems to like it, but also because Spring will be here soon! (I hope...this snow has to melt first >.<)

Hope this helps!
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