Monday, 30 May 2011

Ritual Tools, Altars, and Ritual Space

Every time I walk past my Welsh dresser, I contemplate what is supposed to be one of my altar spaces. I really have no option but the sigh and shake my head in disappointment of my pathetic attempt. Well, in all actuality, it's not a pathetic attempt. I have honestly tried. I put a lot of thought and energy into what is on my altars and what intent that I've got for that particular layout.

It's a shame that my cats don't seem to feel the same. Since the arrival of Florence, and her and Loki deciding that they weren't enemies but playmates, I don't think my altar has lasted longer than ten minutes, if I'm lucky. Florence is actually the biggest culprit...she finds it to be a prime location to sleep, where Loki won't bother her. She's at least courteous enough, most of the time, to shove all of my ritual bits to the safety of the back of the dresser top so I'm not digging them out from underneath my favourite behemoth piece of furniture.  At least the Imp, at 3 1/2, has stopped throwing the stones all over the house and places them back with the rest of them...where Florence has shoved them.

Today, in my frustration, I've had a better think about it. Do I really need a specific alter? In my 17 years as a practising Pagan, I had never been able to have a permanent altar space until I moved into this house two years ago. What few bits of ritual kit that I used, I kept in a fishing tackle box (it was especially bought for that purpose, so no worms ever had a look in :P ) and a couple of Ziplock bags, because I used to keep it in the trunk of my car in Indiana. Even if I don't have any of my tools, I don't have an issue with creating an impromptu space and raising and using the energies that I need. Of course I'm an absolute magpie when it comes to pretty ritual tools, including a huge wand that was custom made just for me, and I love looking at other peoples' altars...I've seen some amazing ones over the years. But, you know what? I don't think that I'm intended to have a permanent altar space.  The only place that would even have a chance of being kitty-safe would be a shelf in my bedroom that is about level of the top of my head. That's saying a lot...I'm 5'8.

In my thinking, I thought about where I've had my most amazing personal rituals, and they've been similar. On a trip to visit a friend in Nashville, Tennessee, it was after hours in a wooded park, in a clearing surrounded by woods, laying on a hill that slanted down to a lake, on a full moon. I had originally picked the spot to just chill out and found myself falling into a trance state, and strolling up a spiral path of iridescent sand, in which the first of my patron Goddesses joined me for a chat and stroll upwards. Absolutely amazing, and I was buzzing for a few days afterwards.  I experienced it again near my current home, again laying down in a clearing surrounded by woods on a full moon.

Reminding myself of those experiences, I guess I shouldn't be too overly upset over not being able to have a permanent altar. I think I actually work better without. I don't actually need the tools, though I do love my wand. That's mainly because it's pretty, and was a very thoughtful gift. And I'm sure that through the years I will collect more beautiful pieces of ritual tools and decoration.  Even if I were locked in a dark closet, I could centre down and mentally find the paths that will take me for a chat with my gods and goddesses.


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