The Pagan Blog Project: A is for Altar

Well it’s taken me a little longer than anticipated to get the first few posts caught up with but before any more time elapses I thought I should at least get the first one posted and then I’ll attempt to finish off the second A-post this evening, following on with the primary B-post [hopefully] the day after – if not sooner.

So to get the ball rolling I just thought I’d ‘showcase’ some of my altars and shrines past and present and talk about them  a little. In the years since I started on my Path I’ve had a number of different altars, some general and some specific. Mostly these days I have at least two specific deity related and one general (though currently I have four deity related).

Dionysos has been the mainstay throughout recent years. From humble beginnings on a simple wooden shelf, to more elaborate set-ups to help me connect further with His energies and to give me a place to go to for regular worship, offerings and devotion. In the current set-up I have two statues, one of which was sold as a garden ornament that I painted. There’s also a framed printed by the awesomely talented Jeff Cullen, the Fool card from the Mythic Tarot (which depicts the youthful Dionysos-Zagreus). I have a couple of candles, a fake bunch of grapes, a piece of amethyst, my bull’s head pendant (which I wear during worship and ritual) and I’ve wreathed the whole thing with a faux ivy garland which I think really looks the part!

My first small altar/shrine to Dionysos.

Dionysos today!

Next we have Hekate who in the last few years has been a HUGE presence which just seems to keep growing in size and potency. Again from humble beginnings, my altars and shrines to Hekate have grown exponentially. My most recent incarnation features some of my most treasured Hekate-related finds aand purchases most notable of which is my skull effigy which has such presence. Some of the objects change position from month to month but can include my jar candle, my Hekate journal, some of my other statues, my handmade Hekate’s Wheel plaque, my wand, chalice, athame, incense burner and key pendant . This is the largest and most central of my altars and is the one I use most often.

One of the earlier incarnations of my altar to Hekate.

Altar to Hekate to celebrate the Rite of Her Sacred Fires 2011

Most recent set-up featuring my Hekatean skull effigy.

I have a small altar-shrine to Pan which hasn’t really changed all that much in the time that I have had it. A few little tweaks here and there but the overall look and composition hasn’t changed and I like it. Going before it I can find my focus taken in completely and it’s almost like I’m transported to a dense woodland or an isolated mountain pass where I can quiet my mind and tackle my fears in the presence of Lord Pan.  Features are my statues of Pan, a set of panpipes, a large pine cone, a small bunch of faux grapes, a leaf shaped offering dish and a vase to put in cut foliage.

My altar to Pan of the Wild Woods.

Before I moved house mid-last year I used to have an altar to Aphrodite. Since moving this hadn’t got reassembled due to space issues. A few weeks back though I decided it needed a place in the new home and although it is smaller and simpler than in the past, I now have a place to go to give thanks for Aphrodite’s Blessing on my life.  I place a lot of rose quartz on the altar and I anoint the candles in myrtle oil. My central statue is another special find on the internet which I love for its unique portrayal of the Foam-Born Lady.

My humble shrine to Aphrodite.

I also have an altar to the Twelve Gods which features my set of Olympian statuettes on a double shelf (I’m in the process of looking for a single item to place next to each statue; I have a peacock feather next to Hera, a piece of wheat next to Demeter, a miniature boat next to Poseidon – things like that). Beneath the shelf I have a chiminea candle holder to represent Hestia and a vase for flowers and a bowl for libations. I’ve been trying to get into the habit of making the lower portion ‘themed’ for a specific God each month in keeping with the monthly libations I [try] to adhere to.

Altar to the Twelve Gods

Pan-ic!

Drumming in my temples,

Pulse behind my eyes.

Heart fluttering like a flailing bird

Sensation – mercurial fear –

Like ice through my veins

Tells me You’re near.

Cold sweat prickles my brow,

You chortle from the thicket –

Shadow and fur, unseen

Unknowing…

Desire to run

But to where?

To flee –

Would You follow me?

Longing for the adrenal rush

A scare of ecstasy –

Dry mouth full of the taste of divine panic!

Hoof-falls in the gloom make

Hairs prink and skin crawl.

Fog of fear

Encroaches on the senses;

Reason long abandoned.

To continue

Explore Your power

Fear of wanting –

Wanting to change

Changing to be

Being free.

You show me the way with rustic charm.

Fear, fright, terror, panic –

To know You in these I am

Shown the way

To dance to Your pipes

As You lead me ever onward…

Io Pan!