witchcraft, altar, mini altar, target altar for spells

Mini Altars, Good for Targeted Spells

Yes, I am being a typical witch here, showing off one of my pretties. I made this particular mini altar back during our “shop owning” days as a witch family. We would, often, built custom full sized altars upon request and mini “pretties” as I referred to the small altars for others, as well as having several pre-made altars of all sizes on display around the shop at all times.

This particular tiny altar was a favorite used for targeted healing spells. I used to keep specific stones, charged items, oils, and other items on him when I had long term spell work going which needed a permanent home to reside in. He helped with a lot of healing over the years and he still has a healing feel about him, which is why he looks so happy here. He was so strong and always so pleased to be able to help in the healing. I used him often at my previous employment, as someone there was always in need. He was small enough to travel and he enjoyed sitting within easy reach on my desk.

I feel that if we are ever to make a difference in the way witches are treated we have to learn to carry the correct balance between openness and respect for others beliefs. Nothing frustrates me as much as those arrogant witches who immediately upon meeting someone get in their face and baldly state, “I am a witch” as if daring them to have an objection. Gentle witches, be gentle, more flies with honey than vinegar is an age-old saying for a reason, after all.

Amusingly enough, on my first day of training for that large international company, I was “out-ed” from the broom closet by the trainer. He had trained my late husband a few years earlier and knew that Azrael kept a full size altar on his desk for years to practice his devotions and spells as needed in his free time. When the trainer asked us to “introduce ourselves” to the class, I admitted that I had joined the company to feel closer to my late husband and to meet the people he always talked about when he had worked there until his passing. The trainer asked his name. As soon as I gave it, he squealed very loudly, clapped his hands, jumping up and down and said, “Oh my God! I know all about you and the boys! I loved your hubby! He was the sweetest witch I ever knew! Are you going to keep an altar on your desk, too? You might not want to cast spells there, though, because some of the management freaked out when he did!”

Well, so much for going my normal route and letting people get to know me a me first before bringing witchcraft into the discussion. For a several years, I kept this altar, and a few other altars, at that job and often disguised them as a “display shelves” for items, as you see here. I learned to keep the more obvious practices hidden at work, because even though everyone knew what I was, I did not want to make them feel uncomfortable or nervous around my desk. I believe, as “out” witches, we are advocates for all the hidden witches among us. Many witches are still afraid to come out for fear of the reactions of loved ones, co-workers, and employers. Other witches are just very private. Some witches are “re-closeted” after having bad experiences.

I was in a resource management position for years, which meant that I was the one people had to come to in order to ask for a day off, or to schedule their vacation, change schedules, etc. Spending years as an openly practicing witch, I did not want them to be hesitant or afraid to approach me. For the employees who were ill and needed to come to me in order to ask to go home, I would often say that I hoped they felt better and asked if they wanted me to “pray” for them. Sometimes I would get looks askance, from the new employees, as they tried to determine what exactly I meant by that, but after they got to know me, most everyone answered, “Yes, please” eventually. Sometimes, it meant exactly what I said. It I took it further into a spell or ritual on their behalf, I was careful to explain in detail what I would do and what effect they might note or feel.

I kept many boxes with herbs, crystals, stones, and special spell oils I had created, as well as several altars on my desks. People became accustomed to seeing me move things around on the altars, many of them never knew if I was “making them pretty” at my desk or casting spells. I preferred it that way.

Over the years, several witches on the call center floor knew when a spell was in progress. Others, not witches, who learned to know me well over the years, knew, or sometimes merely suspected what was happening and would give me a grin and maybe ask a few questions. I always tailored the answers to retain the privacy of the ones for whom I cast the spells. Even in a call center of only a couple of hundred people, some people were nosy and wanting to know all. Mores the pity for them, it was none of their business as far as I was concerned. However, I would answer all but the private questions honestly and explain in as much detail as they wanted to know. Usually, the people would nod in understanding and walking away with a greater knowledge of what it meant to be a witch.

I will always feel that witches who are “out” can and should be ambassadors to lead the non-magickal folks to a better understanding and greater acceptance of those who practice magick. I think it is a good thing to share the knowledge and information we can with people who are not accustomed to magick. The ignorance of the practices causes the most distrust and harm to witches around the world.

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altar, witches altar, spells, spell work, magic, magick, witchcraft, witchery, witches

Witches’ Tools: A Witch’s Altar

Some witches choose not to use altars in the practice of their magick, but for those of us who do, it is a personal judgment call for each witch as to the use, decoration, medium, and placement of the altar.

For those who choose to use an altar, often it is a place to consecrate tools or personal items, make offerings to a witch’s chosen deities, perform spells, do daily devotionals, and for various other reasons according to each witch’s desires. As for Sacred Hands Coven, our altars have been used for all of the above and more. It is a central point to the working of our magick and a sacred space within the coven.

Whereas many Wiccans and some witches follow a set pattern to decorating their altars, which include certain items considered most important to their craft, it does not necessarily follow that all witches use the same pattern. Some witches choose to decorate their altars to honor a specific deity or generalized deities, as a whole. Others decorate to celebrate specific holidays and some even decorate them for general purposes, as they need to work with them. As for Sacred Hands, while we consider our altar a sacred and very personal place, it is usually decorated with the tools needed for generalized spell work only, and as other items are needed, they are added for unique specific task at the time. Typically, ours has a representation of each of the four elements as well as a representation of spirit of the worker. Anything else needed is added only as it is needed to cut down on clutter. As noted elsewhere, I have a thing about order and it tends to carry over into the altar area. Elements represented with various items, sometimes with stones, sometimes with other tools or items found in nature, it just depends on mood and choice in the moment.

Altars may be made from a variety of mediums. I have seen wooden altars made from crosscuts of tree trunks, handcrafted wooden altar boxes with storage built in, granite, slate, and marble altars. Some choose to use ceramic or metal altars. Others may find other natural items to use as altars. I even know one witch who uses a tree shaped, many armed six-foot tall cast iron candelabrum as her altar. She hangs magickal items on it as you would on a Yule tree. She places it at the center of her circle and casts her craft around it. Cast iron is a great medium as it holds in a bit of every magick that touches it, making it more powerful with each casting. Some people cannot afford to have a permanent altar placed in their home for monetary or privacy reasons. As such, I have known some witches to use a dresser drawer as storage and then consecrate a section of their dresser top for an altar. In the beginning, Az and I used a waist height TV/ VHS player stand, which had a cabinet area under it as storage for our magickal items. We kept our marble altar where the player was supposed to be and kept a decorative cloth over the top to keep the altar from sight and touch by all the young nieces and nephews who visited. We used the top of the stand for displaying candles, etc. Soon after, we migrated to the outdoor altar for coven rituals and took the time to train everyone entering not to touch or pick up items off the altar for their own sakes and ours. As for Sacred Hands currently, we no longer keep a full-time outdoor altar. The indoor altar is the same green marble altar, which Az purchased for me the year the coven was founded. We also have several mini-altars, which can be set for separate spell workings and left as is for the duration of the need. One is typically used for healing spell work. Coming from a large family and friends group, there is always someone in need.

As with so much else in life, with altars, one of the most important considerations is location, location, location! It needs to be in an easy to reach area, but it does not need to be in an area where others can tamper with it. If you are going to leave actual working items on the altar, it needs to be safe from prying eyes and children’s hands at the very least. If you have friends who know better but tend to be touchy-feely then you need to either warn them to keep hands off your altar, or keep the altar in a private area where others are not allowed to go. It defeats the purpose to have an altar set up, cleansed, charged and perhaps even have components for a spell laid out and in place then have someone wander by and pick an item up or fiddle with the altar. ( Right, Nightshade?) I do not believe in making what we used to refer to as “ouchie” magick, when our sons were young, to protect the altar. I prefer to use the “people should respect an altar and keep hands off” approach with people who visit in my home.