How to Create a Wiccan Shrine

The idea of the Wiccan shrine/ altar is to give yourself a real, physical connection to your spirituality and beliefs. Something you can reach out and touch, see, hear, taste and even smell. A Wiccan altar should appeal to your senses, be something you enjoy and give you a feeling of being connected to the Earth, nature, any deities you choose, and life itself.

A Wiccan shrine is commonly known as an altar. The origin of the word shrine was ‘a case for holy papers’. The Wiccan altar we create isn’t usually a case containing papers. It’s more likely a Wiccan, Witch or Pagan would keep any papers and notes in their Book of Shadows. Probably a good idea to keep your papers away from your altar in case of mess from the elements: fire, water, air and earth. None of those are especially good for paper, even air will turn it yellow over time.

One important thing to consider when you create an altar is that you are going public with it. Unless you live a hermit-like existence, someone is going to see your altar at some point in time. If you are secretive (and there are all kinds of reasons for keeping your beliefs a secret) you will want to keep your altar inconspicuous. This isn’t hard to do, with a little imagination and ingenuity. No, you don’t have to hide it in a drawer or closet. Just use common every day things which are typically in most homes but place them together. You will be the only one who knows this is your Wiccan altar.

A Base for your Altar

Your altar can be a collection of things but find a way to group them or collect them together. There are traditional ways like drawing a circle around them, using a pentacle, etc. But, there’s no reason you can’t get creative.

Place everything on a tray – like a vintage wooden tray or something made of an old metal like tin. Watch for something in thrift shops and antique stores.

Embroider (or draw using permanent marker) a pentacle on a handkerchief and use it under everything, as a liner. The bonus about using something made of fabric is how easy it is to wash it and reuse it.

If you can, build a terrarium which can include so many elements and generate oxygen too. Put the terrarium in a safe place with the altar cloth under it. No doubt you can think up other great ideas which can create an altar, incorporating some or all of the elements, the centrepiece and a base.

The Centrepiece for your Altar

Yes, there should be a centrepiece. This is something personal to you which connects you to the altar on a real level. Place it in the centre of the other objects. When you do add the objects for each element to your altar find the right directions to place them in north, west, south and east.

If you include deities in your Wiccan beliefs you might choose something which gives you a connection to your deity as the centre of your altar.

Add the Elements to your Altar

These are just possibilities for your altar. Each person should find a way to bring each element to your altar in a way that has real, personal meaning to themselves. The idea of the altar is to give yourself a real, physical connection to your spirituality and beliefs. You just can’t do that if you copy ideas from someone else just because you read it in a book. Take these ideas and use them in your own individual way. (If an idea really suits you – do it!)

Fire

  • candles (make sure they won’t tip over -short and squat candles are a good plan)
  • matches (unlit) because they bring the possibility of fire without the smell or danger.
  • steel tools – they’ve been through a lot of fire
  • a little bit of ash from a fire
  • cinnamon sticks or hot peppers

Air

  • a paper fan, decorate it yourself
  • a fancy (clear glass) jar with ‘nothing’ in it
  • a bell because sound is carried on the air
  • leaves which have been blown from trees
  • a balloon, inflated or deflated

Water

  • a tiny container of water.
  • a fish – a living goldfish or a wooden toy fish
  • a snowglobe – any time of year
  • a shell picked up from a beach
  • an umbrella or rain hat

Earth

  • a tiny sample of dirt from outside your own home.
  • fresh fruit – eat it then add fresh fruit again
  • a growing plant – it can even be seasonal, like a poinsettia at Christmas time.
  • garden tools, like a small trowel or garden gloves
  • a rock or pebble you found somewhere outdoors

Bless Your Altar

Once you have pulled everything together for your altar give it a first time use with a blessing – like a statement of purpose.

Sprinkle salt over everything (go easy on any living things, like plants) then speak aloud your blessing. The blessing can be something you wrote yourself or something you found from an outside source. (Even something you have re-written or paraphrased for your personal use). The blessing is your way of making this altar something different, something important to you, outside of the everyday stuff which may be upon it.

The salt is only there to purify or refresh the altar. It’s traditional and a good idea for the first time you use the altar, but not so essential that you can’t skip it if you have to. Remember, the real purpose of the altar is to connect you to the beliefs you hold. The keyword there being you. Anything you read it a book is just a guideline. Anything you actually choose to do should be for and about you and your feelings, beliefs, ideals.

Now that you Have your Altar…

Now that you have your altar what do you do with it?

Keep it refreshed, tidy and don’t let it get dusty. (Unless you really want to add dust bunnies as an element to your altar).

Use your altar in your rituals, create a ritual for your altar or use your altar as part of your rituals.

If you keep and/ or use Wiccan tools like an athame, wand, chalice, pentacle you wear, and so on you can keep them on or near your Wiccan altar. It’s practical in it’s way – you will know where everything is. Also, it keeps everything in tune, balanced and they can lend and store energy from each other. Your altar is such a personal thing it will imprint something of yourself and your spirituality on the things you keep on or near it.

Bless your altar and use it as a focus for your beliefs, your spirituality and a focal point as you learn more about Wiccan and Paganism. As you learn and grow and develop your beliefs you will change how you feel and think about various aspects of Wicca. Your altar is like a grounded place which you can come back to no matter how far and wide you explore and discover.

 

Other Ideas and Methods for Creating an Altar

How to Start Your Own Coven

You may start a coven when there isn’t anything else local and yet there are many local Pagans. Or, you might start a new coven when it branches away from an established coven.

Starting a coven of your own is not something you should take on by yourself. Don’t try starting a coven of one, that’s not a coven, it’s a solitary. Also, you will need help, other view points, sources of knowledge and experience too.

Narrow down a focus for your group. This is very important if you are in an area where there are already Pagan groups (covens, circles or casual groups). If there isn’t an existing group for Pagans you still need to start with a focus, a statement of purpose. It’s not so easy to be completely open, in spite of good intentions it doesn’t work so well in practice.

Decide how the coven will be run and managed. How many members will the group be limited to? How will requests to join be handled in the future? Should everyone be initiated and what will the initiation be? Will there be rank (including a High Priestess) or will it be casual? Will the group meet once a week or once a month? Will the group have extra gatherings to honour the Pagan holidays? Will the group raise money for causes? There are endless small and large things to decide and talk about.

Choose a leader. Even if the group is casual someone will need to start rituals, open and close circles and so on.

Choose a place and time to meet. Consider available transportation: bus, parking for cars? If you meet in a public place get permission from the owner/ manager, don’t assume it will be ok. If you meet at someone’s home who brings the goodies, if there are goodies being brought?

 

Where the Wild Things Are: Death and Dying

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, May, 16, 2004.

My Dad is quite likely going to die soon, any day now. Don’t worry about sending sympathy, condolences or anything of that sort. You don’t know him. For me it’s a lot more personal.

People think the dying become almost holy. As if, while dying, they change and become a better person all of a sudden. You can’t talk badly about them, you must visit them and you should really, really hold their hand.

Well, my Dad was not a nice, happy, friendly Dad. His dying hasn’t changed that. I don’t want to hold his hand. I don’t want to go in and see him now that he is becoming a pile of meat rather than a human being. Sure, I can stick my hand inside a turkey each Thanksgiving and pull out the little bag of goodies. That doesn’t mean I want to do the same sort of ghoulish thing with my Dad. So, I am visiting him (second time will be today after work) but I am not going to touch him.

What do you believe about death? That gets tested each time someone close to us (physically or emotionally) dies. I still believe in reincarnation. I still believe the body becomes about as useful as roadkill once the person inside is gone. I still think the best body disposal method is compost in the family garden rather than taking up space in a graveyard plot. I’d much rather have my remains sucked up by worms and trees than rotting away in an expensive box.

Am I grossing you out? Am I being too blunt? Do you not want to think about death in such a practical way? Too bad. Death is part of life. There is no getting away from it. Death is always there, waiting at the end. That, I very strongly believe.

I’m not afraid of death. I’m just in no hurry to get there. I’d miss too many things. Every ordinary day, new inventions and ideas, seeing the tulips each Spring and so on.

Anyway, my Dad wants to be cremated. It looks like he will soon have his wish. I don’t think I will miss him. But I’m doing my best to be a good daughter now, in these last days. Not for him, not for myself especially, but for my brother and sisters who seem to expect something grand and dramatic and perfect. As if now that he is about to kick off forever we should honour him for the things he did right.

Where the Wild Things Are: Choosing your Words

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, June, 10, 2003.

“The bible was written by the same people who said the Earth was flat.”

This was on a button, a collection of buttons, on a website. I think it’s an interesting point.

How much trust do you put into someone’s words. If they make it into black and white are they gold? Or do you think about what they say, compare it to your own ideas, values and common sense?

Then, do you go a step further and consider who the writer is. What influence do their own values have on their writing. After that, do you think they are a good source to base your opinions or actions on? Never stop using your common sense as a guide, no matter how grand the authors seem.

Just as you should never copy someone’s Book of Shadows and claim it as your own. It will never be yours, why would you even want it to? Your opinions should be your opinions, not a copy of someone else’s life and thoughts. Stretch your mind, take a chance and have opinions and experiences of your own.

In the end, people who believe everything they read and copy it as their own, never are anything but a clone – a copy. Be unique, be an individual, take a deep breath and step out into mid-air, invent something new – yourself!

Male Witches Out Of The Broom Closet


Male Witches Unite

Male Witches Out Of The Broom Closet

The Male Wiccan

The Male Witch

Guys Can Be Witches, Too

The Pagan Man (abandoned in 2012)

Pinterest – Male WitchPagan Men

1. Magic is everywhere
2. It’s important to stay grounded
3. All seasons are great
4. Poker isn’t the only card game worth playing
5. Intent is everything
6. You get back what you throw out (with interest)
7. The Wicker Man is a really good film

Via – 7 things paganism can teach the modern man – Telegraph