Empowering Your Altar
You can further empower your special place as areflection of the positive aspects of your changing life by placing on it othersmall items that carry happy memories for you. These might include stones orshells found on an enjoyable outing, presents from friends or family, a letteror even a printed email written in love, pictures or photographs of places andpeople that are endowed with emotional significance. Holding these can restorethe pleasure of the moment and fill you with confidence, so they are magicalobjects because they are endowed with the power of good feeling.
Some practitioners keep a book, for example a book ofpoetry, a copy of the psalms, the works of Shakespeare or the I Ching. Wheneveryou lack inspiration, close your eyes and open your book – the page will bechosen apparently at random but in fact your deep unconscious mind has chosenthe most appropriate answer by a process akin to psychokinesis.
Occasionally, gently energies these personal artifacts byburning a candle scented with chamomile or lavender. The domestic altars ofmany lands were originally the family hearth and an unused hearth will servewell as an altar. They depended for their power on herbs and flowers gatheredfrom the wayside in the days before petrol fumes. Many witches who have ahearth do still keep it well swept and fresh with flowers or seasonal greenery.
Between your altar candles you may like to place statues,a god and goddess figure from either your own spiritual background or from aculture that seems significant to you; this will balance the yang, or male,energies with the yin, or female. The god figure may be represented by a horn,and the goddess by a large conch shell.
There are a great variety of deity figures in museumshops as well as New Age shops and those selling goods from particular areas ofthe world. You may, however, feel more comfortable with a ceramic animal, birdor reptile for which you feel an affinity: a tiger for courage, an eagle forvision, a cat for mystery and independence, a snake for regeneration. This iswhat Native Americans call our personal totem or power creature. You may findsome of these are, in some cultures, the symbols of divinities. There is, forexample, Bast, the cat-headed Egyptian goddess who protected women – especiallyin pregnancy and childbirth – the home, pleasure and joy. Bast was originally alion goddess who symbolised the fertilizing rays of the Sun.