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Alters, Shrines, and Magic


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#1 Michele

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Posted 07 September 2015 - 01:00 PM

I have 2 shrines in my house and one alter... As I was cleaning out my house on this 4-day weekend (it seems a perpetual thing, this cleaning, lol) I was thinking about magic and shrines and I'm solidifying my thoughts here and would be interested in how others do things...

For the sake of not getting views mixed up due to differing definitions, for me an alter is a place of worship or devotion, and a shrine is a place that concentrates a specific energy.

My alter - this is a devotional alter set up with a meditation bench and pillow across from it (and BTW, I found a beautiful , large, dog-bed for 19 bucks at Home Goods with a wash-able cover and it's a perfect meditation pillow at a decent price, lol!!), this is because I am spiritual and I do believe in and devote to divinity (that's just who I am, I know many on here aren't into that).

Shrines - I have my ancestor shrine, which is a place of connection to the ancestral realm and the memories there. I check in with them a minimum of once per week. I consider this a shrine because I love them, I am greatful for them, I remember them, I pay homage to their wisdom and guidance (which I ask for often in many things), but I don't worship them. So this shrine is just set up in a basic Ifa-type espiritism (sp) way to connect to the energy of the ancestors and send/receive messages and blessings (or even WTF were you thinking??? from them, lol). One of the things I love with this veneration shrine is that most of the time when I work with it, I feel a hand stroke my hair... It's wonderful, really makes me feel peaceful and like I'm with family.

The other shrine is my house/working shrine. I call it a shrine because it connects directly to the unseen house energies (even though it is already existing in the house, lol) and the things I work with. Also I don't do magic at my ancestor shrine or the spiritual alter, so this is my "working" shrine.

Which brings me to magic... and I'd really love some other opinions on this.... I don't think one can make magic alone, and I don't think one can invoke something that doesn't have a spirit (to me living and dead things have a spirit, but, say, plastic doesn't). I'm a human and humans can only have human energy so to me, the more I've contemplated it, the more I feel that magic can't be done alone, but can only be done through a relationship with something, or the "use" of an energy that is "alive" spiritually (like a force of nature, storm, fire, etc.). I think the best I can do with my own energy is to direct something that I've invoked.

So the working shrine (concentration of energy) serves two purposes - to let me know if something is off, and for me to let the things I work with know if I'm expecting trouble or if everything is well, and then actions are taken there accordingly (and that is expressed in the set up of the water cups on the shrine). Part of that is again very folk-magic espiritism in its way of working. Where I live I'm surrounded by Caribbean and Afro-Cuban magical and religious energies, so it makes sense to work in that way because it is what is here. I have many connections on it to nature manifestations/spirits that I have worked at getting a relationship with.

Gods, to me, I don't use in magic - I think it's risky and disrespectful at best. If I want to ask a divinity for guidance in something that's one thing, but to try and invoke into my being an energy that humongous and that strong and then try to boss it around, to me that's just asking to get my mind blown-up. Like it's one thing to plug a cord in a socket, it's another thing to try and BE the socket :ohmy:

Human spirits (including ancestral) I don't use in magic because I'm not going to invoke (which to me is a lesser form of possession) another human's spirit into my body. I think that, too, is kinda asking for trouble. And to have a dead person's spirit (who I did not know in life) that I'm working with is also a no-no for me. So I stick to the manifestations of nature spirits - because they live in this physical realm (whereas human spirits live in the spirit realm) and I also, belong in the physical realm (at this time, lol).

So that's how I have my house set-up and why, and my thoughts on the logical-ness of it. And I'd be interested in hearing about other's ways of working.

M

Edited by Michele, 07 September 2015 - 01:07 PM.

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#2 travsha

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Posted 07 September 2015 - 05:44 PM

My main altar is my Q'ero mesa. It is a hand woven cloth using patterns more ancient then the Inca - the Q'ero are the only people with these patterns and skills still since they avoided the Spanish invasion. Weaving is considered to mirror the act of creation as the Q'ero consider God/Wiricocha to be the greatest weaver of all (weaving creation).

On my altar I have a bunch of rocks/crystals mostly and also a few plants and keep-sakes that are meaningful to me. Usually these are all tied in a bundle inside the cloth - so instead of having my altar laid out like most altars mine is usually in a bundle all wrapped up with the crystals inside and the cloth on the outside. Like a giant medicine bundle I carry around. I often work with it closed unless I want to do very specific work - then I will open it up and set it out.

I carry my altar everywhere with me usually - I take it backpacking in the mountains, on airplanes when I travel ect.... It is pretty rare for me to leave it behind for more then a few hours.

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#3 candleflame

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Posted 08 September 2015 - 08:41 AM

Hi Michele,I just have a cloth and candle salt, model clay a few herbs,oil,I sort of use the cave man style of magic I guess where magic started and some gypsy as well. I don't know about shrines or gods if they work or what,I guess it's up to the person. I don't muck about with spirits that much either.i have did ok without them. There and old saying by witches I read somewhere, Groups and books don't make the witch it fate. That might be right after awhile you can feel something or a knowing or like your guided,hard to explain the folks here might know what I am on about.cheers
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#4 Aria

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Posted 08 September 2015 - 09:29 AM

I have 2 shrines in my house and one alter... As I was cleaning out my house on this 4-day weekend (it seems a perpetual thing, this cleaning, lol) I was thinking about magic and shrines and I'm solidifying my thoughts here and would be interested in how others do things...

For the sake of not getting views mixed up due to differing definitions, for me an alter is a place of worship or devotion, and a shrine is a place that concentrates a specific energy.


My approach towards altars/shrine has always been very practical. For the last four years I've had a place in my house, a small table, on which I have stones, pieces of wood and seashells from places that are meaningful to me and to the spirits I work with, as well as candles, plants and a couple of other meaningful objects. I rarely use this for magic, for which I normally use the floor, the kithchen table or the outdoor, but I use it for offerings to my familiars as well as to my ancestors. I've never set it up this way consciously, but it's always been directed West. So, I guess, it is a place for familiars and the dead.

Shrines - I have my ancestor shrine, which is a place of connection to the ancestral realm and the memories there. I check in with them a minimum of once per week. I consider this a shrine because I love them, I am greatful for them, I remember them, I pay homage to their wisdom and guidance (which I ask for often in many things), but I don't worship them. So this shrine is just set up in a basic Ifa-type espiritism (sp) way to connect to the energy of the ancestors and send/receive messages and blessings (or even WTF were you thinking??? from them, lol). One of the things I love with this veneration shrine is that most of the time when I work with it, I feel a hand stroke my hair... It's wonderful, really makes me feel peaceful and like I'm with family.


I don't have an ancestor shrine. I've always wanted one, and I grew up in old houses with pictures of dead people and candles lighted to them all over the place. As a kid, I've always found this a bit creepy. However, the relationship with my ancestors is alive and well. They're around me when I need them, and they mostly communicate with me through dreams and divination. My offerings to them are quite rare, but I always try to visit their burial places at the cemetery once a year and when I work in a circle (or compass) the Western corner is often dedicated to them with an offering. Which brings me to your next point.

Which brings me to magic... and I'd really love some other opinions on this.... I don't think one can make magic alone, and I don't think one can invoke something that doesn't have a spirit (to me living and dead things have a spirit, but, say, plastic doesn't). I'm a human and humans can only have human energy so to me, the more I've contemplated it, the more I feel that magic can't be done alone, but can only be done through a relationship with something, or the "use" of an energy that is "alive" spiritually (like a force of nature, storm, fire, etc.). I think the best I can do with my own energy is to direct something that I've invoked.


I only partly agree with you on this. I agree that most magic cannot be done alone, but there is a need for another entity to 'grant' that power. However, I'm not sure about this. I've had moments in which I could swear emotion, passion and a tingling feeling coming from the roots of the earth and vibrating my bones like guitar chords have produced wonders. I have a feeling that are body and soul contain some basic building bloc, like a spiritual signature, that is common throughout all things who are or have been alive, visible and invisible. This makes me think that our spirits are not that different from non-human spirits, but we often don't master our spiritual force. That's another reason why we need helping spirits, I suppose. Which brings me to your next point.

Gods, to me, I don't use in magic - I think it's risky and disrespectful at best. If I want to ask a divinity for guidance in something that's one thing, but to try and invoke into my being an energy that humongous and that strong and then try to boss it around, to me that's just asking to get my mind blown-up. Like it's one thing to plug a cord in a socket, it's another thing to try and BE the socket :ohmy:

Human spirits (including ancestral) I don't use in magic because I'm not going to invoke (which to me is a lesser form of possession) another human's spirit into my body. I think that, too, is kinda asking for trouble. And to have a dead person's spirit (who I did not know in life) that I'm working with is also a no-no for me. So I stick to the manifestations of nature spirits - because they live in this physical realm (whereas human spirits live in the spirit realm) and I also, belong in the physical realm (at this time, lol).

So that's how I have my house set-up and why, and my thoughts on the logical-ness of it. And I'd be interested in hearing about other's ways of working.

M


My opinion on this has radically changed. When I started on this path, I was convinced that there were Gods and spirits. Now, I think that what people call 'gods' are in fact, very powerful spirits. For example, I've been in a magical relationship with a female spirit ever-since I started practising. At the beginning, I was convinced she was a 'god', with time I realized she is another spirit, a powerful one and related to very peculiar natural and spiritual dynamics, but she still is a spirit. On witch that I used to know used the term 'intelligences'. I think it is a beautiful expression, and it contains so much of what these people that help us with magic are. Our titles are weak way of describing them. Some of these intelligences are older, greater or have very specific jobs. But I think that, in general, they're all made of the same stuff we're made of.

Re dead people, I've had occasion to work 'magically' with ancestors, or to ask them favours directly. I agree on not working with dead people you didn't know, it's weird (or not on my initiative, at least). However, I disagree when you say they must be invoked in your body. I think there's a possibility, the other one is to meet them in their form rather than yours. I think the important thing is finding a way of bridging the gap.

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#5 lalinrises

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 06:37 PM

Wanted to bump this!

 

I have one main working altar where I do most of my workings. It's pretty cluttered at the moment with various oils and herbs and things. I use this space to also connect with my helping spirits and provide offerings. There is no cloth but I do have a large rabbit skin, a few candles and quite a few rocks that I've collected as well as a plant.

 

I have two other altars/shrines, one is my ancestor altar. This was actually the first that I erected before having my working area. I have a few photos and gifts that were given to me by certain family who have passed. I also put items that I know a few particular ancestors do like. I try to commune with them a few times a week, sometimes only once a week. I make sure to provide offerings as they have been a huge help to me and my path. My other alar space is dedicated to a goddess that I work with, there is a lovely feminine energy that I try to upkeep with it. 


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#6 bluelily

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Posted 04 June 2016 - 02:21 PM

I have one main working altar, in my office/craft room. I also have a smaller shrine and a small altar in there. I keep everything in this one room, but have little things around the entire house. I absolutely LOVE altars/shrines. They put in me the mindset I need to be in almost instantly. Each item is carefully picked, and adored. 


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#7 Duchess

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Posted 04 June 2016 - 04:41 PM

I have one alter set up next to a small bookshelf that holds most of my tools and ingredients, and is surrounded by all my instruments. It’s a small mahogany table I made that holds candles, incense, a small woodcarving, salt, a couple divination tools, and an offering bowl for those I work with. I use it for both crafting and my spiritual practices. Everything together creates it's own little corner that is slowly gathering an energy that feels different from the rest of the apartment; I love working there. 


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#8 Aina

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Posted 05 June 2016 - 03:31 AM

I have a spiritual room which has two TV stands stacked on top of each other. The top is my working altar, there's a middle section which I use for my ancestors and the bottom is for two off the four main spirits I work with. I also have a table for divination, some floor space for meditation and an area where I hedge ride.
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#9 Llyr

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Posted 07 June 2016 - 02:26 PM

I have one area of practice inside my garage. I wouldn't call them altars as I don't use anything for worship but I also have 4 points or areas where I work and where my protection spells align up outside around my home. At these points are a few of my favourite places to be. Many offerings have been placed at these points from me and towards me. I consider these energy points. Various things are buried around these areas by me. I tend to work outdoors more than indoors so I guess these would best be described as my altar of areas for practice.


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#10 Zombee

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Posted 08 June 2016 - 02:44 PM

I have a corner shelf shrine and framed pictures on the surrounding walls. It is my space for veneration, and is above C-level, re: cats. Cats and long-burning candles do not mix. My working table is a small, 4 tiered kitchen cart on wheels, with baskets for storing supplies. I can roll the cart wherever I want to work. I keep long term works-in-progress on a tray so I can move the whole thing out of harm's way. The cat's nick-name is Harm, and he's a serious kleptomaniac with a shoe fetish. Really.
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#11 JuniperBaby

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Posted 14 June 2016 - 10:06 PM

I recently lost almost all of my possessions AGAIN. Six weeks ago, I moved into my current home with just what two friends and myself were able to carry in just one trip in the elevator.

 

I bought a few X-large very pretty cardboard boxes for storage and to make my place look less empty. Two of them are piled next to my bed as a kind of makeshift bedside table. The top one has all my spiritual stuff in it. I don't usually leave stuff out on top of the box for very long. As soon as I am done, everything goes back inside the box. The box has very little in it, but I don't need much and everything is in one place when I need it.

 

I don't like clutter. I don't like people in my private business. I keep all of my few possessions tucked away from prying eyes. Of course that seem to make people want to look and pry more than ever. I have a laundry basket almost hidden in the corner near my desk with library books and DVDs in it, and wouldn't you know people look in it and start reading the titles aloud. 


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#12 Zombee

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Posted 28 September 2016 - 11:32 PM

I've been re-reading old posts and giving some thought to one of Michele's comments that we can't do magic without the aid of spirits or some vital force (paraphrased). Through trance I was taught a method that has no ritual or tools, no partnering with concepts of deity or spirits. I've not asked my spirit guides for spell assistance because it never occurred to me that they would be interested. I do ask them for spiritual direction, teaching dreams & protection; a lot of "why" Qs.

Witchcraft came years later in my life & I'm still new to Trad-Craft concepts. I suppose because of the order in which I was exposed to learning these things that I consider magic to be a natural function of the mind. And that being said, getting back to the OP, I have a wall-shelf shrine whereat I make simple thanks candle offerings to "that which is nameless" & has 10,000 titles. Statues make handy images of the creative concepts.


Edited for clarity

Edited by Zombee, 15 July 2019 - 06:27 PM.

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#13 Autumn Moon

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 09:39 AM

I have one main working altar, in my office/craft room. I also have a smaller shrine and a small altar in there. I keep everything in this one room, but have little things around the entire house. I absolutely LOVE altars/shrines. They put in me the mindset I need to be in almost instantly. Each item is carefully picked, and adored. 

>>>>>>>>>>I think that is very important...to be in the mindset to do magick...to be in the zone. After awhile of working a 'specialized' area whether working with Spirits or not (or a least ones that perhaps remain hidden), one can get into that zone anywhere...but I REALLY like having a specialized area to work in.


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#14 Zombee

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 05:17 PM

Like Autumn says, stuff gets us into the zone. All the links and actions that bring on vitality, so we get the rush, place us in the magical "Goldi Locks" zone.
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#15 Nera

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Posted 02 October 2016 - 12:28 PM

I don't have a working alter, just an ancester alter. I like to do the workings in the nature or if that is not possible, than in my backyard. And I also don't invoke, either. Evocation is great, but an invocation is a bit too much for me.


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#16 Lauvitra

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Posted 02 October 2016 - 01:36 PM

I guess the closest thing I have to an altar or a shrine is my sacrificial tree at the backyard. It is simply a place where I can present offerings to certain spirits or deities, show my respect and things like that. In addition to the tree, I also have a specific place inside the house that is dedicated to the house spirit only. Visually neither of these places would stand out to the unknowing guest - there are no decorations or other tell-tale signs. The tree is just a rowan tree, and the offering place for the house spirit is just a stone cup on the sauna stove.

 

I have considered setting up an ancestral shrine in my home, but decided against it. I wouldn't feel comfortable including those ancestors who were of a different faith than I am, and neither would I feel comfortable actively restricting the shrine to specific ancestors only while omitting the rest. Also, I already have a place - kind of - where I can connect to those ancestors who did share my practices and possibly my faith as well. It isn't at my home, but it suits my needs.

 

 

Working altars, I don't have, and when it comes to gods and spirits and "using" them in magic, I'm sort of agreeing with the original post. I don't "use" them. I don't "command" them (with a few exceptions - if a spirit is giving me trouble and kindly asking it to leave won't work, I wouldn't hesitate to command it to get the f* out of my way). Then again, I don't believe they are necessary for magic either. I need no spirits or other helpers from the outside to work magic. I may, occasionally, ask them to lend a hand, but that isn't necessary for my spells to work. The kind of magic that I practice is pretty much based on words and lore and knowledge of those things. Altars and shrines have no place in it. I can do my spells all by myself. If I wish that a god would help me with a spell, I don't pray for them to help me, or give them offerings at the altar in order to please them before requesting their aid, and neither will I command them to help me. I speak out the correct words, and they will answer. It is... something akin to a deal. A "contract" between myself as a witch and the spirits and deities.


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#17 SelkieBlythe

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 12:27 AM

I have a "formal" altar and a working altar. The formal altar has my deities on it— Sri Sri Radha Krishna and their avatars— on it. This is where I'll take darshan, and make offerings of food, incense, music, flowers, etc. This is the worship altar, and except for seasonal decorations (right now it's looking very Samhain/autumn), it's very traditionally Hindu in it's setup. It is on a cupboard all to itself with our spiritual books and aarati supplies underneath.

 

My "working" altar is where the magic stuff happens. This is on a shelf in my bookcase, and has representations of my deities on it, as well as my spirit animals, lots of crystals, seashells and stones from Ireland, oils, candles, etc. I'll sit in front of it to chant or meditate (I'll do the same with the other one, but it's easier with the working one because it's at eye-level when I'm sitting on the floor.) Nice tip on the dog bed meditation cushion! I'll have to find one of those.

 

The formal altar is the central piece in our living room, because we consider it the center of our lives. The working altar is actually in my bedroom, because that's where there was space for it. Ideally, I'd rather have it on something like a coffee table and maybe next to the formal altar. 

 

** Edit

I actually have a third altar in the kitchen! It's a picture of Radha Krishna with a candle and a bell. This is where I'll offer most of my food, since I don't do formal offerings for every meal. Also, I ask Radha for cooking inspiration all the time, so she oversees my work, and Krishna steals the butter. :)


Edited by SelkieBlythe, 04 October 2016 - 12:30 AM.

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#18 Eidolon

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 01:58 PM

So far I have one big altar and a small ancestral altar placed in front of it. My altar is on top of a book shelf where I keep a lot of my supplies and tools. I think it's helpful to have your magical books and tools where your altar is. For some reason I think it has an inhanced effect when working magic to have all of your things in one place. Maybe an energetic thing, I'm not sure.

This altar is largely ornamental, but I treat it as sort of a center focus for my spiritual efforts. There is a section where I leave offerings to a certain deity. I do not worship her though as we don't have that sort of relationship. But we help each other out I guess. My altar is ever changing, as am I. Reading what other people have written though has made me consider making other smaller altars or shrines in my house rather than having one big one.. I've recently had a couple of new helper spirits come into my life and I think that would be a good way to honor them.
I am also considering setting up some sort of fae/nature spirit shrine outside. Does anyone have any experience with that?

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#19 Llyr

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 03:27 PM

So far I have one big altar and a small ancestral altar placed in front of it. My altar is on top of a book shelf where I keep a lot of my supplies and tools. I think it's helpful to have your magical books and tools where your altar is. For some reason I think it has an inhanced effect when working magic to have all of your things in one place. Maybe an energetic thing, I'm not sure.

This altar is largely ornamental, but I treat it as sort of a center focus for my spiritual efforts. There is a section where I leave offerings to a certain deity. I do not worship her though as we don't have that sort of relationship. But we help each other out I guess. My altar is ever changing, as am I. Reading what other people have written though has made me consider making other smaller altars or shrines in my house rather than having one big one.. I've recently had a couple of new helper spirits come into my life and I think that would be a good way to honor them.
I am also considering setting up some sort of fae/nature spirit shrine outside. Does anyone have any experience with that?

 

 

An outdoor fae shrine!

 

A colleague of mine built one of these in her garden, she got her inspiration from this site - http://www.boredpand...t-fairy-garden/

 

She ended up doing a few different styles, it looks really good


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#20 Eidolon

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 03:51 PM

Wow those look amazing
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