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How to Decorate a Thanksgiving Altar

Updated on March 21, 2016
Nightcat profile image

Nightcat is a practicing witch who loves to write about Wicca and many of the Gods and Goddesses she’s had the pleasure to encounter.

Thanksgiving for Witches

Witches and pagans sure love to decorate. If we aren't buying a new statue for the latest facet of the God/dess, we are contemplating what offerings will look most pleasing to the eye. So exactly how would we decorate an altar for Thanksgiving? It isn't as if it is one of our major holidays.

Mabon has been and gone, and there really isn't anything to do until Yule. But the last time I checked, Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks to the higher power we believe in. So why not set up a temporary altar or a sideboard or table? Even revamping a main altar might help put you in the festive mood.

Although written for witches and pagans, there is no reason folks of other religions can't grab these ideas and adjust accordingly. All photos are of my own altar for the project. So if you copy please give credit and a link back, thanks!

Sorry to pagan visitors there are so many Mabon videos. There simply don't seem to be any witches who decorate for the US holiday of Thanksgiving.

)O( Give Thanks )O(

There is no reason we witches and pagans shouldn't give thanks for the blessings of the Goddess and God on Thanksgiving. We are lucky to live in a country with freedom of religion, so give thanks! Please remember to try to share what you have with those less fortunate at this time. The Goddess loves a cheerful giver.

Start With a Good Base

LinenTablecloth 108-Inch Round Satin Tablecloth Gold
LinenTablecloth 108-Inch Round Satin Tablecloth Gold

To me gold is a fall color, and it doen't hurt that it stands for abundance as well. A perfect starting cloth, you can them layer as you go. Plus gold works for so many aspects of God/dess for abundance, of course. It looks elegant too, not a bad idea if you are buttering up your God, as one wise woman aptly put it.

 

Had To Include A Fox Somewhere, It's His Holiday Too

A Word To Non-pagan Readers

Wicca is a religion that celebrates God as seen in nature. It is a positive religion filled with prayers, just like yours. Witches mostly busy ourselves with healing spells which are really prayers, just like you.

We do not believe in a Christian devil, because we feel all ill in the world comes from humans, not an outside source. We strive to be responsible citizens in our community, and stewards of the Earth.

No two witches are alike, but we all agree there is just one Divinity. We may see this divinity as both male and female, just female, or wholly male. We do not worship a different God from you, we just see him in a different way.

Witches are not out to hurt anyone, we firmly believe in a God/dess that returns our actions threefold. I'm sharing this information with you, as well as a look at a working altar to foster peace between us as human beings.

May God/dess bless you, and Blessed Be!

Set Of 4 "Seasons" Green Man Wall Plaques Greenman

Set Of 4 "Seasons" Green Man Wall Plaques Greenman
Set Of 4 "Seasons" Green Man Wall Plaques Greenman

OK so we witches debate exactly who the green man is. Some say he is a spirit, some say he was a way to hide the pagan god in a time when worshiping him would get you killed. We also know the Celts had a fondness for decorating with heads.

But he would look lovely hanging over an altar, don't you think?

 

A Cleansed Altar Is A Welcoming Space

2015 Thanksgiving altar. I went all out this year and as this is a working altar I wasn't giving Hel and Loki the boot. I kept elements that honor Them and added on.
2015 Thanksgiving altar. I went all out this year and as this is a working altar I wasn't giving Hel and Loki the boot. I kept elements that honor Them and added on.

Cleansing Your Space


We all have our own ways of making a space sacred and Thanksgiving deserves our magical attentions as well. I know, we all just did things for Samhain, and if you feel the magic is fixed, leave it be. But a cleansing before or the day of, to bring in good energy at a time when family, Black Friday and other pressures loom can be good for us and our Gods.

I first swept my floors then did a hoodoo wash. Nothing fancy to be honest, a pine cleanser in steaming hot water and the essential oils of lavender and jasmine with a dash of pure lemon extract as I wanted both the hoodoo properties, uplifting, cleansing, protection, love and prosperity along with the association of my Gods and Goddesses.

You can make any combination you like best. I then smudged my home with sweet grass to honor the First Nations as if it hadn't been for their kindness to refuges centuries ago we wouldn't be having any holiday, at least not on US soil. And I prayed for healing of all hearts.

The altar is handsomely decorated and as it is a working altar I worked around and included the symbols of those currently in residence. In theory it is my kitchen table but as soon as one God is gone another claims the space.

How to Decorate a Thanksgiving Altar - 'Tis Simple

What You'll Need:

Athame

Battery Operated Candles

Flowers

Altar Cloth

Offering plate

Chalice

Offering

Something Native American(ish)

Something Showing Thanks

Optional: Pleasing Scent

NOTE: This type of layout contains a lot of flammable items. I'd advise battery-operated candles and no incense.

Start of course with your altar cloth. Here there is a second cloth with a printed design over a gold one. Put down the basic decorations, starting with a piece in the center for balance, and work outwards. Here I used a fruit basket and turkey to show thanks.

Try for a sense of balance, just so it looks nice. On this add flowers for a second layer, adding something that at least looks Native American on top. Place your offering plate and chalice, and then the statues you desire. Remember your athame.

Add in any food or drink offering you desire, and light the candles. If you are spraying perfume for a scent offering, do it before the offering plate and chalice go down. You could set this up on say, the Sunday the week of Thanksgiving and add natural gifts up until the happy day.

Thanksgiving for Pagans & Heathens

Raku Spirit Jar

Raku Spirit Jar
Raku Spirit Jar

Please take time to remember those who were here before us. The people of the First Nations often struggle to meet basic needs and would be very thankful if you donated a dinner. You can also purchase Native American made goods to help out.

Remember if you are a PowWow these are your magical ancestors too, regardless of the color of your skin.

 

Altar Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size

SOS Week 24: Thanksgiving and the Pagan

Feasting For One

Solitary or sparing tom? Think chicken. Three hours at 350 with potatoes, onion and garlic. Dust chicken with garlic and onion powder, salt substitute and black pepper. Liberal butter, all in an oven bag.
Solitary or sparing tom? Think chicken. Three hours at 350 with potatoes, onion and garlic. Dust chicken with garlic and onion powder, salt substitute and black pepper. Liberal butter, all in an oven bag.

How We Can Give Thanks


We can give thanks in an endless number of ways. By honoring the Gods that were here before us if our traditions allow. You could pick the Gods known to those native to your area and the ceremonies, or honor one spirit or figure that calls to you.

There are also the Gods who love us and are with us. They are the ones to be thankful to, you know. To show Them appreciation on a day when we've been taught they were vanquished because the one true god finally showed up can do wonders for Them. To show Them they are loved and needed still, be They new to us or old and much beloved friends.

Celebrate with joy! We are, by and large the religion of happiness and joy. Instead of sad and dour Puritans put on some fun music and celebrate, make it a day of joy and giving back by including those less fortunate by donating clothes or food to a local shelter and don't forget the wildlings!

Or: Make A Spread

Yup, our anniversary dinner. But a small bit of everything is a great way to feast on a controlled budget.
Yup, our anniversary dinner. But a small bit of everything is a great way to feast on a controlled budget.

Some Thoughts

"Wasn't a time to be clinging to gods that would get you killed, and the gods of the woods loved their followers too much to let that keep happening to them. Rather sleep than see it happen. So sleep they did. Waiting for a better time to wake again." - Jack, Cenotaph

Cenotaph: Empty tomb standing as a monument, especially for those who have died in war.

This particular short story has always struck a cord with me. We pagans know our old Gods are with us. The only difference between us and everyone else is that we love Them and others fear them. So the Gods we loved became the devils of a new religion and in the story They are there, looking back at us from within stone faces.

One of the charges against pagans that is not true and never has been is that we see our statuary as our God. Now we make the statue to be close to Them, and if they, being spirits, choose to dwell in the statue or do anything else they like with it that is up to Them. But we are simply a practical and artistic people.

It's all very well and good to show a young pagan the trees, and woods, the rivers and rocks, the earth and skies our Gods dwell in for They are everywhere, but it is a lot more practical and comforting to them and to us to put a face with a name. So our statuary of our Gods, who have no one true form was born.

All of our Gods were Gods of the woods, or the mountains or whatever place they liked best. And we humans learned slowly that They were good and could provide for us. Perhaps in the old days we were content most of the time. Sure our ancestors had fears, but they also had appreciation for the basics.

A shelter of some sort, clothing to protect against the elements and food. Plenty of work to be had to keep them active and none of the bother of today's world. No way to be distracted by TV and the Internet (I'm well aware of the irony here) because there was none.

Progress isn't all bad. We live longer, we have better education. We have the pick of the litter now when it comes to what ideas we have and what Gods we follow. Or we should. The mischief starts, as it always does, when one group of people claims to have found the One Right Way. Because there is no such thing.

Had our old Gods not been replaced through war and terror this world might be a very different place. Had humans not been taught that all other Gods must be pushed out perhaps we'd have, in America alone, many festivals held by all citizens to honor the Gods that were here to greet us as well as Those who traveled with us.

Denean - We Are One

How do you give thanks?

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    • Nightcat profile image
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      Nightcat 4 years ago

      @Deadicated LM: Thanks so much, Deadicated! I hope you have a Wonderful Thanksgiving too. Blessed Be! :)

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 4 years ago

      Great Lens, have a Wonderful Thanksgiving )O(