An alter question asked

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Forums -> General Info -> An alter question asked

An alter question asked
Post # 1
A question was asked in chat from someone who wanted to place a black onyx stone on his or her alter.

So first, lets discuss what black onyx is made because some look at the misconception that onyx is made from cooled lava (a mod said this)

Onyx is a microcrystalline quartz called chalcedony, named for the ancient port Calcedon on the Sea of Narmara where it was first mined. Today onyx is mined in California, Brazil, Uruguay and India. Thousands of years ago, onyx was used to create handles or bases for items made of gold. Onyx also was inlayed with various kinds of stones. The Romans used onyx to create seals made of intricately carved layers. Cameo brooches were also often carved out of onyx. In 250 B.C., an onyx was chosen as one of the 12 stones in the breastplate of Aaron, a vestment made of gems.

Read more: Black Onyx History | (for referance is where I got the black onyx facts)

Secondly, look at your tradition. If there is no outlined way that an alter should be set up , then it really doesn't matter where it goes.

Finally, the alter is only a tool. The person who has set it up and uses it is the power that is needed. The construction of an alter should be personal to the individual.
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Re: An alter question asked
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 2
The Moderator was correct when she/he stated that black onyx comes from cooling lava. May I refer you to this article:

"What is an Onyx?

The umbrella family name is chalcedony quartz which is a silicon dioxide. Then it is broken down by color. The black stones, which may or may not have bands of white, are commonly what you think of when you think of onyx . But, there is another kind called sardonyx which is brown or reddish-brown with bands. A third type is called carnelian onyx which starts with a red base. This is why the more common stone is referred to as black onyx.

The stones are formed when gas pockets form in lava and then dry that way. The crystal forms inside the cavity much like an amethyst, which is also quartz. When you slice open the rock, the crystal is revealed and removed for polishing or carving."
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Re: An alter question asked
By: Moderator / Adept
Post # 3

The question asked in the chat was about where to place an onyx stone on an alter. After informing that the stone is made from cooling lava I stated that the stone has fire aspects because of how it is formed and therefore should be placed on the fire direction of the alter.

Traditionally it was taught that the elements of the alter should correspond to the actual physical directions. Some traditions feel an alter should always face a certain direction however this was not they way I learned because you can't always face an alter in one direction. When setting up an alter it can face any direction so long as the directions are represented with their corresponding elements and items. Such as;

North is Earth - earth representations should be placed on the northern side of the alter

East is Air - air representations should be placed on the eastern side of the alter

South is Fire - fire representations should be placed on the southern side of the alter

West is Water - water representations should be placed on the western side of the alter

This is the traditional way I was taught and it is not in any way to be taken as the only way to set up an alter. It is however the traditional way that makes sense to my simple pagan mind.

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Re: An alter question asked
Post # 4


Thank you for that. That was logically laid out and easy to understand.

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