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Monday, February 28, 2011

Wicca 101 - Altars and Tools

Monday, February 28, 2011
By RaeVynn Sands, Flickr user cronewynd, via Wikimedia Commons
This week I wanted to talk about altars and the tools of our Faith. While tools are not necessary, it is good to familiarize yourself with them at the very least.

First a list of tools and descriptions; (Note I'm sure to miss a few tools that you may use or have heard of. This is not intentional it is simply a reflection of the different variations in the many traditions.

  • Athame - Normally a black handled dagger, the athame is used to direct energy during ritual. Some traditions associate this tool with the element of fire and others with air.
  • Bolline - This is a white handled dagger used for actual physical work. But work associated with magickal rites. For things like harvesting herbs or inscribing symbols on candles.
  • Besom - Or broom. This is used to 'sweep' out the negativity from an area. But not used in actual cleaning.
  • Wand - Used in circle to conjure or call up the different Elemental Guardians. Some traditions associate this with the element of air and others with fire.
  • Chalice/Cauldron - Both tools represent the womb of the Goddess and the element of water.
  • Pentacle Disc - Typically a five pointed star inscribed on a disc of varying materials. Represents the element of Earth on the altar and can be used as a place to ground magickal workings.

Now the most important tool is the altar. Because your family needs a place to gather together to do ritual and to do magick. There is no 'right' way to setup an altar, but here are some suggestions;

  • The family Deities should be represented. If you haven't found who those are then you can just have representations of the Goddess and God on there instead.
  • There should be a representation of the One. The principle that the Goddess and God are the two parts of. If this is not part of your mythos, then you can exclude this.
  • A spot for the Ancestors and Elders should be reserved as well. You can mark this with a candle or a small lamp and an offering plate. You can also include pictures of some of those that have passed on.
  • The family should have something to represent it. In FWTI they use the family light, which can be lit to bring the family together. But you could also use a symbol that everyone can touch as they pass by to remind them of the fact that they are connected to the rest of the family.
  • You may also want to have representations of the four elements as well. Whether you use colored candles or actual physical symbols of them.
  • Another suggestion is the Family Book of Shadows. Which should be a compilation of rituals and traditions of the family. You can also put photos of each member of the family (ancestors included) and photos of different rituals and trips that the family has taken.
  • You can also decorate the altar with symbols of each of the seasons and/or Sabbats.

Now as you go ahead with the building of your family altar. Just keep a few things in mind;

  • Put it where the most traffic is. It does no good if the family is not reminded of it.
  • Use it. Build your rituals around it. Pray at it. The more that you do these things, the more "spiritually charged" the Family Altar will become.
  • I have always found that simpler is better. The more on it, the easier it is to knock something over and the less "working" room there is.
  • Do not worry about getting it "wrong". If it "feels" right then it is "right".
Tune in later this week for the other half of this lesson. The one for children. 

Blessed Be!

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