When I first started reading about Wicca when I was a wee young girl, all the books told you you absolutely had to have an altar, and it has to have these things on it: athame, salt, wand, pentacle, imagery of the God and Goddess. “If you don’t have these things, get creative and get something like it,” they said. They never said that an altar is something you do for yourself, that you do to connect with your Gods and Goddesses, your connection to magic. This is one of the reasons I could never quite get into Wicca, despite wanting, so badly, to be a witch.
Lately there is a resurgence of people taking back the word “witch” from Wiccans. Over the past twenty or thirty years, Wiccans have worked hard to de-stigmatize witchcraft by associating it with their peace-loving religion. That’s great, but witchcraft is not synonymous with Wicca. An altar does not have to look like the books told me. Altars come in all religions. Altars should look the way that you want them to look.
I’ve been reading about altars in different polytheists faiths lately, and I’m being inspired by this secular witch’s photos of her altars. Altars are places to put things that are sacred to you. Flowers, mementos from ancestors, feathers found on a walk, things that inspire you. While I’ve been mostly curious about bloggers who call themselves “devotional polytheists” lately, I’m thinking about altars in all senses. A place for my Tarot cards. A place for a pretty rock or two, some crystals, a candle. If ever I could get my garden going, then a flower or two. An altar should have meaning for the user, especially if it’s this user, especially if this user is trying to develop her spirituality and understand what she is called to.
It’s time for me to start a practice. My practice will be inspired by devotional polytheism and witchcraft. But, you know, starting is hard. Finding a place to live where I can be free to start a practice is hard. I want to work on my relationships with the spirits of my land and house, which is hard to do when I have such a hard time just keeping clean. I’m on the verge of big changes, I think, or still riding the waves of big changes that have been building for me, and these changes are going to uproot my life. How do I trust to what’s real and true while so many new things take place around me?
I’m not sure yet. But I have a lot of wonderful support while I figure all of this out.