Your first consideration is where to put your altar.
Most people put their altar in their bedroom. this makes it a very personal space, and assures privacy. This is especially good if you live in a home with non-Pagan roommates or family who might be intimidated by a holy object such as an altar in the living room. If however your home is wholly Pagan, you may wish a more public altar in a living room, or a special temple room, at which your whole family can worship.
If you do this, you will probably still want a personal altar in your bedroom to use privately, which is attuned solely to your own energies. In this way you can enjoy with your family the best aspects of both personal and communal religious devotion.
Once you've decided what room to put your altar in, you must decide where in the room to put it.
For many this is an easy decision -if you have only three feet of open wall space in your room and no way to rearrange it otherwise, obviously the altar will go in that three feet. But if you have more than one choice available to you, you will wish to consult the principles of GEOMANCY.
Geomancy is the art of reading the Earth's energies and aligning ourselves and our works to them -and through them to the energies of the Universe as well. Geomancy is an ancient art in all parts of the world. Different peoples have developed different ideas about it, depending on the needs of their differing cultures. In Asia it is called FENG SHUI, and this form of Geomancy has become quite popular lately.
The idea of Geomancy like so many other things in magic comes from the ancient maxim of Hermes Trismagistus: "As Above, So Below." That is to say, the idea that the essential nature of the Universe will be reflected in all of Her parts, no matter how great or small.
The main principles of western Geomancy are exemplified by the Magic Circle. Briefly, the direction of East is creativity and new beginnings. South is action and manifestation. West is emotion and the subconscious. North is wisdom. Everything that is Above or goes to the right (DEOSIL) is connected to the God, to matter, and to physical manifestation. Everything that is Below or that goes to the left (TUATHAIL, or less correctly "Widdershins") is connected to theGoddess, to spirit, and to cleansing. You will learn more about this in LESSON V.
Your altar may be aligned to any direction whose qualities you desire to draw upon, but it is traditional -and generally best for the beginner- to place the altar toward the North. North is the Direction of wisdom and understanding, where the qualities of the other directions are integrated and learned from. Placing the altar in the North will help you to align yourself to wisdom and integration, and help you to bring these qualities to your magical and meditative practice.
Your altar itself also has a geomancy to consider.The right side of the altar is warm. It is associated with the God, the Sun, Day, physical energy, and the elements of Air and Fire. The left side of the altar is cool. It is associated with the Goddess, the Moon and Stars, spiritual energy and magic, and with the elements of Water and Earth. The middle of the altar is associated with Spirit, or Primeval Deity, Who is within both Goddess and God, as well as all other things. The back part of this middle area is associated with Primeval Deity, that aspect of the Goddess that existed before the creation of the God, and might be described as the Higher Self of the Universe. Hear is the Divine plan, the blueprint of the Universe which is mirrored in every aspect of creation. This is the soul of Deity, which is expressed in many different faces. This is often the focal point of the altar, where Deity is honored in whatever form is being invoked at the time. The front part of the middle space represents spiritual energy manifesting in the physical world -the union of Goddess and God in the ongoing process of creation. This is where your magical working will be done. This area is normally left empty when work is not being done.
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