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Mystical Living: Being Young and Pagan; Building an Altar on A budget

Updated on May 27, 2014
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What is An Altar?

An altar is the center of a witches spell, it is the place where the images of deities are placed, animal images to provoke certain aspects, an athame, a wand, a chalice, and other important items are kept. My own altar consists of two shelves strategically placed on a wall in my bed room to help conserve space. On these two shelves are statues of animals that are important to me: snow owls, wolves and horses. Other items are a statue of a fairy, my athame, bowls I use for spells, and most importantly my beautiful box filled with stones.

Not all altars are the same, in fact they should be a reflection of who you are as a witch/pagan/shaman/druid/etc, and since we are all different why should the altar deter from this very amazing fact! So with this said, let us move into what basic items can be considered for an altar.

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The Altar Surface

Now I know there are plenty of people looking at this article going, why not just buy stuff? Well to be perfectly honest, I know there are a lot of people (myself included) who are poor college students, in fact it is this demographic that inspired me to start writing about these topics. After five years of being asked all of the questions I have written about and will write about, I thought it best to be open with not only the college students and those looking for answers, just where I live but across the web.

So the first thing that comes with an altar is the surface in which it inhabits. Some people say it must be a table that is the size for a baby, but like I mentioned before surface size does not determine the altar, it is you. So think about where you want to place your altar in your living space, for me, I can't have it out in the living room where my roommates come and go as they please, I know it would get touched and/or messed with while I am out. So, I placed it in my room. Now if space is difficult for you as well, shelves are amazing. My shelves were a gift to me when I first moved in, but you can create shelves or find them cheap at any flea market. Symbols and such that you might want can be carved into them later.

If it is a small table, you would be surprised how hard it is to find something small and rectangular like a table. The ironic thing, the most frequent small, table like items I have found are toddler stools. Yes, round and for small children, they play off of the shape of the pentacle/pentagram. What better item than a small stool to help emphasize on the images you might be wanting.

If you are thinking about sprucing up the table you find, then wood carving might be a hobby to look into for it. With carving, you can etch into the wood whatever symbols you find befitting your altar as well figures or shapes you might want to add.

Help with Wood Carving

Flea Markets; Where the Athames, Chalices and Stones are at!

The blade. Beautiful and sharp, it might possess intricate designs or be as simple as a singular colored handle and blade. Whatever your choice, the athame should be something that feels right to you. My own athame is a Scottish boot dagger that I found in a little shop for twenty dollars. The black casing and the beautiful thistle in silver on the handle is what drew me in. Now tiny shops might not be the only place to look (antique stores are amazing) but flea markets! Yes, those giant shopping places with so many different things you know you don't need, but like any other treasure it takes some time to find. A friend of mine found her athame at a flea market. The handle was painted with a grizzly bear, an animal she holds dear to her heart. She told me it took her more than two hours to find it, but it was well worth it.

Stones, stones, stones! If there is something that can add something to an altar, it is the stones that represent different deities or intents. Semi-Precious stones are actually quite easy to find, if you know where to look. Stop buying them for three dollars a piece on a website, go to the flea market for these! There are so many vendors who offer giant bags of these stones for the same price you would pay for one piece. Think, an array of stone for three instead of one, that is a deal! Here are some stones to look for when you go looking:

  • Agate (Of all types)
  • Citrine
  • Aventurine
  • Bloodstone
  • Quartz
  • Rose Quartz
  • Turquoise
  • Sodalite

It is often discussed that chalices should be made of silver, seeing as the goddess' color is silver, but is a real silver chalice easy to find? Well if i wasn't I wouldn't mention it! Plain, silver chalices are actually another thing I have found among the shelves of flea markets. Some with either simple designs or plain silver chalices, that of course need a little cleaning, are easily accessible. Have you seen the price of silver items? It can reach a skyward price of fifty dollars, but I have found quite a few for under three dollars, and with some tender love and care they are shiny and new.

Same can be said for candle holders! A four candle place holder made of clear glass cost me a dollar at a flea market, but it allows for me to place a candle for each element. There are always interesting shapes to be found too. There were some shaped in a heart, for spells or deities dealing with the heart, birdcages to invoke the essence of air and flight, other with earthy qualities to inspire the desire for a more grounded feel to the altar.

So explore! Find your nearest flea market and take some time to look, you never know what you might find. I have a couple of book keeping sites below that will help you look for your nearest flea market!

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