Altars

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Altars
By: / Novice
Post # 1

I thought I'd share some thoughts and reflections about the bomos (altar) from my perspective as an Ogdoadic Tradition student and theurgist.

I see a lot of showing off of altars these days and many strike me more as a shelf full of knickknacks than a place of divinity or reverence. Around the world in history, the altar has been a place of worship, ceremony, sacrifice, and offerings. The common modern Neopagan adaptation feels much more like a conglomeration of things that the individual likespersonally.

The altar serves as a place in which archetypal and/or divine presence is ensouled/enshrined and welcomed. The items we place upon the altar should be clear, concise, and with intention to further link the connection to the divinity for which it is built. The preparation of the altar is the preparation of receiving the presence of the divine into a suitable vessel or focal point.

The divine, archetypal, etc. are all around us at any given time. In order to focus and harness a specific one, we use filters and focuses like a prism or color filter to bring out the color (divinity) we want to ensoul and anchor. In order to do this, we need to provide correspondence, items that reflect the presence and energy of that divinity.

We need an agalma, a symbol, for it to bind. This is usually a statue, a picture, symbol, or other image associated with that divinity.That item or symbol is usually fumigated with incense associated with the divinity and acts as the primary vehicle for the divinity to enter. Any other items present, other than ceremonial tools, should serves as further enhancements and foci to make the ideal environment and atmosphere for the intended divinity.

Many times we see altars with little focus and a broad assortment of items with little connection or purpose past looking nice or a "gut feeling". These convoluted altars are like T.V. static, mixed and confused without common goal. These actually further hinder our connection to the divinity rather than enhancing it. We're talking through a receiver, but it all just sounds like static in the end. It's not the ideal environment for a specific divinity to step into.

My advice would be to remain very conscious and intentional with what you put on your altars. Ask yourself: "does this item serve to increase my connection or does it cloud it?"

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Re: Altars
By: / Novice
Post # 2

Brilliant post and so refreshing compared to much of what people state on this site. Ive seen some very messy altars and i as a human dont want to stand before it let alone a divine being wanting to inhabit it!

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Re: Altars
By: / Novice
Post # 3

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.

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Re: Altars
By:
Post # 4
I had a good chuckle when you stated that some people’s alters are a mess. We have a seasonal, public alter that is quite tidy and holds interesting objects pertaining to the wheel of the year. Then there is my personal one that holds everything I’m working on. Lots of herbs, stones, crystals, images, artifacts, notes and my working tools. Things I am studying, yes it’s a mess. But, my shrine is where I offer worship, sacrifices, offerings and where I connect with the Devine. Sometimes my shrine only holds one or two objects to help me focus. Each of us in our family has their personal alter and shrine within their own room.
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Re: Altars
By: / Beginner
Post # 5
Personally, I like those messy, uncentered, cluttered alters that seem like a display piece or convoluted collection of things of reverence, intention and mysticism. They are passionate pieces of sincere work. To the builder,every piece and part represents something. Old tools, new tools, a spell or offering left here and there. It is a place of power and history. The more that is added, the more it collects energy.

Many of us are polytheistic. The alter must honor numerous deities and retain the energy from many sacrifices and rituals. Things on our alters are to be consumed by nature and the winds of time. For some of us, removal of things offered to an entity to make room for another is not practical.It would be insulting to clean the slate. Ultimately, the builder is the one to decide.

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Re: Altars
By: / Novice
Post # 6

I feel I need to clarify my message a bit as people are getting the wrong impression. This was just my perspective in my tradition and reasoning behind said perspective. I don't promote it to be the one truth or anything like that. It's perfectly acceptable for people to have different beliefs and practices.

I am a polytheist myself, I honor many deities, specifically Egyptian and Greek. I'm not saying you have to take things off and change it around. I personally have a few altars which are dedicated to specific deities and then I have a more dynamic altar that changes based on the ritual I am doing, but obviously not everyone has the space or capability for that. I also don't think it's bad to have a lot of objects on the altar, but I do believe they need to serve a purpose and have a relevant connection to the purpose of the altar. I'm not going to put figurines of dragons, fairies, or weapons on my altar to Djehuti because they have nothing to do with him and in this instance would just confuse the intent and preparation for his ensoulment.

To further clarify, I'm also talking specifically about working altars here, not shrines to deities where offerings, worship, and prayer are offered. These are altars where we prepare it to receive and resonate the presence and energy of the divinity, but we are actively working at these altars with ritual and spell work relating to that divinity specifically. My altars aren't shrines where offerings are made and incense is burned. These are active places where theurgic rites and rituals are performed with the invocation of these divinities or daimons. If it makes more sense, you could think of it as a combination of a shrine and an altar, but the altar aspect of active working takes the main purpose.

I personally feel it's best to have different altars for different deities, so that is how I do it. My practices is based in my specific tradition and the experiences with it, so it's not going to make sense or resonate with everyone. I'm just offering my own perspective and the reasoning behind it.

In the end, you do you if that's what works for you.

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Re: Altars
By: / Novice
Post # 7

altars are definitely an interesting topic.

When I was in the Broom Closet about my magical practices, I had to come up with ways I could hide my altars, more often than not, in plain site. A common method I used was containing items to do with whichever deity I wanted, along with the offering I had for them (usually non-perishable) and maybe a tea light. For me, those items were generally just what I felt connected me to the deity. For example, for Frigg, I had braided some lovely quality yarn into a bracelet, which I left in my small altar.

I understand the idea of structural altars, but at the same time, no altar is exactly the same. Some people just like an object because it reminds them of their deity or a pleasant feeling, rather than it serving any form of ceremonial use.

Moreover, some people don't use their altars to honourdeities, but places as well. I have a small altar in my kitchen, not for a specific deity, but for the general feel of the kitchen. I do a lot of the kitchen work there, and to have an altar in the busiest place in the house creates an air of positivity,

These are just some thoughts and feelings on the matter :)

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