One Altar, Rebuilt and Simplified

As a result of yesterday’s near-catastrophe, I have spent the last day and a half disassembling my altar, cleaning it, and putting it back together.  Keeping Frater Acher’s recent post in mind—the parts I understood were rock-solid advise, which I will take into better account once I’ve finished my year of complicating my magic with ceremonial studies—I have greatly reduced the clutter of crystals and half-started magical projects.
It’s a work-in-progress, of course.  There are still a half-dozen gods and powers who need to be honored here, and it’s almost time to transition from Samhain to Yule.  A lot of my tools and crystals need better homes than I have for them now—most prominently, the collection of wand piled on the left-hand side, for one, and the rock and tarot collections currently packed in that grenade box on the right.
Speaking of my wands and tarot cards, I thought I’d take a moment to show them off since I had them all out while I was doing the cleaning.
Yes, that’s more than one thyrsus you see there (θύρσος, more accurately transliterated as thursos, plural θύρσοι thursoi; dual θύρσω thurso probably not appropriate to this instance).  The one on the left is newer, longer, and lighter—more practical for carrying about; the one on the right is use-dedicated in mead-making and Beltane rituals and weighs a shit-ton.  The plain iron, clay, and copper number in the middle is my general-use double-terminated wand.  The willow branch was a gift which I haven’t made use of light I ought to.  The second from the right is made of copper, clay, obsidian, and amethyst, and I use it for healing work.  The foot-long crystal on the right is lab-grown quartz and lived on my altar for a decade before being put to use on my ceremonial altar.
Fourteen of my fifteen tarot decks are pictured above—there’s also a Waite-Smith deck the size of the smaller Thoth (came in a set with, actually) which I have lent to a friend at school who is interested in studying the tarot.  Both were gifts from Aradia, given at a time—a month or two before Crowley holdings were put back into publication—when Thoth decks were almost impossible to find.  The Pamela Coleman-Smith Centennial set was also a gift from Aradia.  The Gypsy Fortune Telling set was a dumpster find.  The second, larger, Thoth deck was purchased for use in my ceremonial studies.  From left to right, the second row down features the Goddess Oracle Deck, the Witch’s Tarot, the Hansen-Roberts deck (my very first tarot deck), the Lord of the Rings Tarot (a gift from a lady I courted back in the early days of the KU Cauldron), and an Art Nouveau tarot deck.  The bottom row shows the Shapeshifter Tarot, an old-school cardstock tarot with Waite-Smith major arcana and no illustrations on the minors; the Unicorn Tarot (which I have no idea how I got my hands on, but can’t give up because I’m a hoarder), another Art Nouveau tarot deck, and the Celtic Tarot.
Returning to the subject of my altar … it’s almost time for Yule.  I pretty much forgot about Mabon.  Samhain has always gotten more extravagant treatment from me than any other holiday.  I don’t want to go back to forgetting about the seasons—down that path leads to also forgetting about the moons—particularly not while I’m doing this whole ceremonial thing.  I don’t want to get any more unbalanced than I already am.
Seasonal altars was something I never really bothered with before living with Aradia, but even if I had I wouldn’t have done Yule. Now that I’m no longer with her, I’m not really sure how to do seasonal altars. Yule has always been too much like Christmas, a holiday which I have hated with an ever-increasing passion since I got too old to miss how much it stressed out my parents.  Between the annual ordeal of extended-family drama and the horror that was working jewelry during the gift-giving holiday, I pretty much had nothing but hate for the entire two-month stretch from my birthday until New Years, when the fervor finally went out in a drunken orgy.
I don’t have to deal with those family members anymore.  And while I may pick up some shifts in jewelry over the holiday, it’ll be so mercenary on my part as to lack the usual sting.  I have my sun-god mask, but his seasonal crowns didn’t survive the move.  And   Finally, I will actually be in Kansas City for the Sabbat, itself—assuming that no blizzards take out the highway between here and there.
So the question remains … what will I do with my altar for Yule?



Filed under witchcraft

2 responses to “One Altar, Rebuilt and Simplified

  1. The wife and I have been discussing Yule traditions in relation to what we want to teach/celebrate with future podlings. Since I'm the more Norse/Germanic inclined this one fall to me more than her. For you, I had the thought that you might look to the oskerei, the members of the Wild Hunt, as this is the time of year when Odin rides out with them. Different version exist. I don't know, maybe there's something there.

  2. I'll look into that. Thank you.

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