This weekend, Aradia and I put up our Samhain altar. It will probably see some revisions over the course of the season, but I think it’s a really good start.
At the top you’ll see my Sun King mask wearing the Crown of the Waning Year. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that we didn’t change out the crowns until just now – our practice fell off somewhat over the summer, due to various and sundry dramas, and we’re only now getting back up on the wagon. We must not be doing too badly, though, because when we did our house-cleansing the Circle popped into place as soon as we lit the first candle.
The centerpiece is the Death Mask I made last Samhain. I’m actually a little startled how much power it has acquired over the year its spent in my altar. “It’s watching me,” Aradia said when we set it up. Then: “You do that a lot.” (Do what? I ask innocently.) “Creating entities.” I guess I do. It’s kind of the nature of masks, but they’re not the first. That would be Tsu*.
Dionysos and the Water-bearer serve as our God and Goddess images for the moment. A candle for the sun and moon sit beside them, and the horns I made for Aradia’s Princess of Pentacles photoshoot in between. A Ganesha incense burner, a brass gong, Aradia’s ritual knife, and our house chalice also share the upper tier, all in front of a Zodiac poster older than I am to represent the wheel of the year. There’s also a five-pointed gourd we picked up at the farmer’s market that day … it called to me.
The lower level has our four elemental candles and various associated symbols: a rock and a fallen leaf; incense burner and a smudge stick; my cauldron, a candleholder and an ash tray; a seashell box. The pumpkins are for our pre-Samhain feast, and the candelabra in the middle also holds our Brigid candles from Imbolc. There are, of course, a few assorted tools and crystals for one thing or another, and the altar-box below.
*Another story, for another day. It’s long and not actually as interesting as it sounds.