Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Altar and Its Place in Wiccan Ritual

One of the most important ritual items in Wiccan practice is the altar, upon which ritual tools are placed. The altar is a place of power, and it serves as a powerful focusing tool. It is also often the centre of Wiccan worship. It can either be set up permanently, or dismantled after each use.

The Appearance of the Wiccan Altar

The altar can be made of almost anything, though wood is preferred. Stone is also common, metal a little less so. In general, plastic is the only material that should absolutely be avoided for use as an altar.

The altar can be any shape. Round altars are common, as are square and rectangular altars. Many practitioners use actual tables, bought specifically for use as an altar. Others opt for something much simpler, like a cardboard box covered with a cloth. Many practitioners even construct their altars on the ground. There are not firm rules here.

The Tools on the Altar

The arrangement of the tools on the altar can follow a particular pattern, but many practitioners simply place the tools where they feel they belong. For those who follow a particular tradition, there is usually a prescribed set up. If not, then there are many altar set ups to choose from.

In Wicca, the left half of the altar is reserved for the Goddess, and often the chalice or cauldron will be found here, along with a bowl of water, and something representing the Goddess Herself. This could be a statue, or simply a candle, or maybe a seashell. A bell may be found in this position as well.

The right half of the altar represents the God. Here, incense is placed, along with the wand, athame, and other items like a feather or candle, which is usually red in color. Usually, either a God statue or a candle for the God would be found, but other items, like a pine cone, can work well.

The centre of the altar is considered neutral ground. Here, the pentacle often resides, since it is usually considered to be representative of both the Goddess and the God. Many practitioners also want a small vase of flowers, to bring an element of nature to the altar, particularly if it is indoors. When outdoors, nature is all around, and so it is not necessary to add flowers to the altar.

Virtually every Wiccan has a personal altar, though the precise appearance and form will vary. The altar, in addition to being a center of worship, provides a place for all necessary tools to rest. This places them within easy reach during spells and rituals.

The best Wiccan altars are a perfect union of form and function, combining beauty with a practical place to worship and honor the Goddess and the God.

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