6. Permanent Altar Items. I liken this to directing a play. If you were directing a play how would you arrange your scenery and setting to enhance the action? What important and significant items do you want on the altar which will be a constant reminder and inspiration to you; a representation of the Gods and Goddess in some form, a pentagram, chalice or drinking horn. Perhaps even your favourite tarot deck or runes. This is the ideal place to really express some of the cornerstones of your religion and magickal practice. This forms the main and constant backdrop to the altar - but permanent doesn’t have to mean forever, don’t feel compelled to keep something on your altar if it no longer serves you!
7. Temporary Altar Items. These the things which are on your altar for a defined purpose and for a limited period, they may reflect a current magical working, something you want to keep in your subconscious mind for a particular time period, or even perhaps seasonal or festival specific decorations and offerings. The key with these things is to treat them consciously and remove them when their purpose is served – don’t let them linger and become part of the background or start to rot, this will dilute their power and purpose and might start to dilute the powerful associations you hold with the altar itself.
8. Keep it clean and tidy. I am not the world’s most enthusiastic cleaner, I have a dust allergy as well which only reinforces my view that I was not born to do lots of housework. But even I make an exception in the case of my altar. Seeing your personal altar choked with dust and covered in rotting flowers and fruit can give you a shocking insight into the state of your spiritual health so keep it clean. I try to clean my altar as an act of meditation rather than as part of the same frenetic and hateful job I do all over the house – perhaps one day I sweep the floors and clean the oven in the same way…but I fear that day is a long way off.
9. Make it Personal. If it wasn’t already obvious I am saying this again. Your altar is your personal connection to the Universe, the Gods, Spirit, and the Ancestors etc. So make it all about you. Don’t accept anyone else’s word for it concerning what should be on your Personal altar – re-examine all your beliefs and associations and pick what resonates for you now. Then in a week, a month, six months check that this is all still what is right for you. If we were setting up a specific altar for a particular ceremonial magical purpose then I might say something different – but we aren’t. This is a personal empowerment altar. Make it personally empowering!
10. And Activate! My experience of altars as described in my last few posts is that they can be active or passive. When I want to activate my altar I light the candles and incense I keep on it. Then I stand before the altar and place my hands palms upwards on either side of the top of the altar. In this position I close my eyes and feel the power in the altar, I feel and visualise the altar opening up like a door or even a chakra and I know it is working when I feel the energy start to flow into me, through me and around me into the room. It makes the room feel charged, positive and empowered. Great stuff.
I can't sum up these 10 steps better than William Morris so I'll leave you with his famous quote...
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” (William Morris)
I would love to hear about your altars and see pictures of them so please do comment and let me know how you use this practice!