The Altar or Shrine

Any horizontal space can become a temporary altar, but many Wiccans keep a permanent altar set up as a focal point of the household. Most often an altar space is covered with a cloth whose color is up to the altar builder. The altar can be viewed as a symbol of the Earth, or of the Wiccan herself--the union of matter and spirit, the place where Deity enters the world of form.

There are as many kinds of altars as there are Wiccans, and there are no hard and fast rules for how to build one--the important thing is that the altar speaks to your Younger Self and brings you into a sacred mentality. If you do not wish to have a working altar set up all the time with all of your tools out on display, you might consider keeping a shrine, a simplified altar whose whole purpose is communion with Deity. A shrine can be as simple as a candle, an incense burner, a stone for the God and a seashell for the Goddess. An altar can be infinitely complex, or dedicated to a single purpose (such as prosperity, motherhood, or an individual Sabbat).

Whether you keep a full altar or a shrine, remember to keep your tools clean and out of reach of children, pets, or careless housemates. An altar is not a place to set one's keys or toss the daily mail, nor is it something to set up and ignore. It is an emblem of your spiritual life and should be treated accordingly.

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