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Author Topic: Don't have an altar?  (Read 11026 times)
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« Reply #15: April 12, 2008, 11:35:12 pm »

I like the Wiccan and other Neopagan altars I've seen on photos. I'm just not sure it's my kind of furniture style, because I really appreciate that my place is sitting on earth and round shaped instead of angular. Though I have yet to find out why Wiccans and other traditions keep it that way, maybe for good reasons.
There's a single distinct furniture style?

If you're just talking about how many of them are square/rectangular, I would say that mainly it's just because more tables of a suitable size are square or rectangular, than are round.  Sometimes that can be the down-to-earth practicality of, "that's what was available;" other times it might mean that it never occured to the practitioner to think about tables, and thus altars, coming in other shapes.  Or it might be a choice based on convenience - right-angled corners often fit better, if space is at a premium.  Or perhaps it's because that table is special (mine, f'ex, once belonged to my mom's mother).

There may be traditions that have specific requirements about shape, perhaps with theological-type implications, but I have no info on that.

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« Reply #16: April 13, 2008, 03:39:47 am »

Just a wrong assumption on my side. So how would you define altar? Does it need a specific high or can it also just be flat on the ground?

If I could build one in a big garden or a temple with every technical possibility, I'd consider creating something that goes down into earth a few feet. Though I see for some practical reasons you'd need a table too.


However, I'd also be happy with a shelf or even a window sill if there was no better place in my room.
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« Reply #17: April 13, 2008, 10:16:07 am »

Just a wrong assumption on my side. So how would you define altar? Does it need a specific high or can it also just be flat on the ground?

There's a lot of practical issues - one flat on the ground can be hard for anyone with a bad back to work with! Or a problem if people in the ritual will be wearing long skirts or robes and you'll be using candles. It can also be hard with pets - it's usually possible to train them to stay off specific furniture (well, if you're paying close attention), but much harder to keep them out of an area of the floor.

There's also space and size issues - as Sunflower points out, a square or rectangle is easier to store in tight spaces. (I have very little accessible space: my altar for group work is a small desk from Ikea that gets pulled out from the wall when needed - as you've seen in photos on the blog). Not my ideal (at the very least, I'd like solid wood, not particle board) but for my current space, budget, and uncertainties about where the next year might find me living and working, it's fine.

My covenmate, however, has a gorgeous old solid wood sideboard, with really lovely carving. She's had it for a number of years (before she used it as an altar), and she has more space for an object like that (including space to put it in an appropriate position for an altar in a room suitable for group work)

On the other hand, we're talking about trying a central altar for a bit: that piece of furniture won't work for it (neither will my desk, really.) so we'll need to figure out a different option for that. (She's thinking about how to make a small circular table that could be dismantled for travel.)

I do prefer to work with an altar at standing height (so desk height or a little higher), as I feel more comfortable that I'm not going to accidentally anything on fire that way.
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« Reply #18: April 13, 2008, 01:06:38 pm »

I like your altar and can understand the practical part of it. And shape isn't all, but one can have idealistic and inpractical ideas. Still dreaming of my selfcreated excentric temple, if I should get rich unexpectedly. Wink

A solid wooden table with carvings sounds great too, there's so many beautiful possibilities which are also practical.
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« Reply #19: April 14, 2008, 12:10:16 am »

Just a wrong assumption on my side.
An easy one to make, though.  There is a certain sameness to a lot of the altars one sees pictures of, so it's hard to be sure if it's practicality, or lack of originality, or if there's an underlying religious requirement.

Quote
So how would you define altar?
With great difficulty Cheesy.  Seriously, in most of the sources of my Craft background, "altar" was used indiscriminately to apply to several things that, though certainly related, it'd make more sense to talk about separately.  It's only relatively recently that I've been working on sorting those things out in my mind, so I don't have a very good vocabulary for it yet.  I do distinguish between a working/ritual altar that one sets up for the ritual/work and takes down after; a devotional/meditational altar that is always set up ("devotional" meaning "place where one does one's devotions", not "devoted to" any particular deity); and a shrine which is more about what one is devoted to (a particular deity, all one's deities, one's ancestors, etc).  There's a lot of overlap, though; it's not, in practice, a clear-cut either/or - which I guess is why it's also useful to talk about them collectively.

Quote
Does it need a specific high or can it also just be flat on the ground?
Again, it's a matter of what's practical, rather than there being strict religious requirements - determining "practical" can include symbolic/theological considerations (as is the case with your meditation corner), but the point is what works.  Jenett has covered the practical ins and outs pretty well.

Quote
If I could build one in a big garden or a temple with every technical possibility, I'd consider creating something that goes down into earth a few feet. Though I see for some practical reasons you'd need a table too.
If I were constructing something that permanent, and didn't need the altar to be movable at all, I might very well consider sinking the bottom of the altar into the ground, while the top of it was about hip or waist height - having it "rooted in earth" makes symbolic sense to me.

Otherwise, it sounds like it's going more into "shrine" territory, where "working surface" is a less-important consideration.

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« Reply #20: April 14, 2008, 02:16:44 am »

With great difficulty Cheesy.  Seriously, in most of the sources of my Craft background, "altar" was used indiscriminately to apply to several things that, though certainly related, it'd make more sense to talk about separately.  It's only relatively recently that I've been working on sorting those things out in my mind, so I don't have a very good vocabulary for it yet.  I do distinguish between a working/ritual altar that one sets up for the ritual/work and takes down after; a devotional/meditational altar that is always set up ("devotional" meaning "place where one does one's devotions", not "devoted to" any particular deity); and a shrine which is more about what one is devoted to (a particular deity, all one's deities, one's ancestors, etc).  There's a lot of overlap, though; it's not, in practice, a clear-cut either/or - which I guess is why it's also useful to talk about them collectively.
Thanks, I didn't consider you can have several types for several purposes. My flat one is very practical for sitting meditation, but wouldn't necessarily be for ritual (what I don't have experience with).
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« Reply #21: April 14, 2008, 03:57:50 am »

<snip>She's thinking about how to make a small circular table that could be dismantled for travel.</snip>

Had to comment on this one before finding the other threads I should reply to.

One easy way would be to grab a couple of peices of suitable wood, and cut a groove in the centre of each, one from the bottom, and one to the top, to about half-way on each peice. They can then be slotted together to form a cross surface for a round surface to be placed on top of. We have one as our coffee table (admittedly, not high quality, and you'd probably want more 'natural' wood). It's simple, and the three peices of wood can then be laid flat.

I'd recommend a screw to hold the flat surface on though. I can get a picture if you're interested in the design. Simple, but effective.
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« Reply #22: April 14, 2008, 11:00:35 am »

One easy way would be to grab a couple of peices of suitable wood, and cut a groove in the centre of each, one from the bottom, and one to the top, to about half-way on each peice. They can then be slotted together to form a cross surface for a round surface to be placed on top of. We have one as our coffee table (admittedly, not high quality, and you'd probably want more 'natural' wood). It's simple, and the three peices of wood can then be laid flat.

Which is fine except that there's a couple of other requirements we have (notably, that there be a sizeable shelf below the top that we can put specific objects on - most importantly the plate for our bread.) It's important to us, and for various reasons, important to have actually on the working altar during ritual, not on some other surface. (and a plate on the floor might get stepped on, or there's always the danger of migrating cat fur. I sweep as much as possible beforehand, but somehow, more always magically appears.)

Thus are the joys of playing with things in an established tradition. We'll figure something out, I'm sure - or else decide that a central altar isn't worth it for us and our other needs.
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« Reply #23: April 18, 2008, 08:57:57 pm »

So, who doesn't have an altar, and why?

I don't have an altar, because my version of spirituality doesn't require it.  I have various places in the home I refer to as a sort of "shrine", but it's not the same thing, IMO.  I've got a little teeeeeeny shelf where a statue of Ganesha and a little offering bowl stand.  I've got a "knick-knack" shelf above my home desk where there's all sorts of objects which are significant to me, and which I feel hold some energy for me, but I also set practical things on it, like a pile of coloured 3x5 cards, my earrings, a lighter, a jar of knitting needles.  I think I somehow ended up just integrating the mundane with the spiritual until there was no division between the two.  Having an altar, to me, creates a separation between those two ideas and that's not what I strive for.
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« Reply #24: April 18, 2008, 09:18:29 pm »

So, who doesn't have an altar, and why?

I would love to set up an altar, but I have three little heathen kitties and a very non-tolerant parent.  Maybe some day Smiley
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« Reply #25: April 18, 2008, 10:37:10 pm »

I would love to set up an altar, but I have three little heathen kitties and a very non-tolerant parent.  Maybe some day Smiley

Are Heathen kitties like the ones in this video?   Wink

http://www.vikingkittens.com/

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« Reply #26: April 18, 2008, 10:56:30 pm »

Are Heathen kitties like the ones in this video?   Wink

Those cats SO should have come out at that part in Shrek the Third.
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« Reply #27: April 19, 2008, 09:04:30 am »

Are Heathen kitties like the ones in this video?   Wink

Omg, yes, lol!  I didn't even realize what I said as it is common for my family to call my kitties "heathen".  No offense was intended (to anyone who takes offense Smiley )

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« Reply #28: July 17, 2008, 11:03:40 am »

I don't have an altar because I don't really need one. I'm not Wiccan. I don't really do spells. I dunno. Not saying that I would never put one up, I rather like the idea of an altar, but I don't have reason to right now (not to mention the space!).
This is the same reason why I don't have an altar.  I don't do spells myself.  I usually get together with my friend who sets up an altar at her house for the holidays.  Although, I haven't been to her house in awhile.
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« Reply #29: August 05, 2008, 10:29:11 am »

Hey folks,

So, who doesn't have an altar, and why?

Sperran

I don't have an altar because for a long time I had no room for one. I rented a room from my mother and shared it with my daughter.
Now I have moved and I'm still deciding where I would even put one. I've worked without one for so long, and Odin never seemed to mind so long as I kept his image in my room, that I'm really unsure where to start. At the moment I just have an image of Him hanging in my living room. He seems cool with it.  Wink
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