The Altar, a place to put ritual objects? I think not. A sacred place within sacred space? Absolutely.
Altars have always been with us. Since the first human looked up to the sky and wondered, where did I
come from? What is my purpose? Is there a Creator?
It might be a table or an inverted box covered with a cloth, or it might be a marble top or a tree trunk
outdoors. Practically speaking, it is the place that holds our ritual tools. But...its more. An Altar is a
sacred place, a symbolic manifestation of the inner self.
Whether an Altar is used communally or privately, it is a focal point for the worshippers devotion to
Source or the Divine... A spiritual area expressing the heart's longing and the soul's potential. It is our
intent and desire that make it sacred. The Altar should always be honoured and respected with love.
When we place ritual tools on the Altar, they are placed according to their elemental associations and
whether they are "masculine or feminine". There is a Goddess side and a God side. If the Altar is in
your home, it will also hold personal objects of special meaning. In this respect, the Altar becomes an
expression of what has value to you.
There is no right way to set up an altar. If you belong to a 'tradition', you will be told how to set up your
altar within that tradition. Otherwise, you can do what works for you. Of course, you have to be practical.
You don't want the fire candle in front of you so that you burn yourself every time you reach for something
on the altar.
By the way, one cold Sabbat night I backed into some tea lights placed at the side of the circle and set
my cape on fire. My High Priestess, who was across from me, asked "Parnassus, are you on fire?"
"Not anymore", I replied. Standing next to me on my right was Lord Raphael, who had put me out by this
time. (That was exciting; Never again the burnings!)