Don’t alter that altar!

My friends, I see this mistake being made way too often, and being the nitpicky detail-obsessed bitch of a magician that I am, I desire to correct you all, because you are all being wrong on the Internet.

  • An altar (noun) is a consecrated space for religious, devotional, magical, or spiritual operations, often a raised platform used for sacrifices, offerings, rituals, communions, and other mystical endeavors. Example: “The priest walked up to the altar to perform his daily offering to the gods, placing a jug of wine on the consecrated surface.”
  • To alter something (transitive verb, i.e. it takes a direct object) is to change it or make it different in some way than it was previously.  Example: “The student altered his paper when his teacher pointed out mistakes in his spelling and grammar, because he did not want to get a bad grade when he turned it in.”

One does not set up an alter, and one does not altar something to make it better.  STOP BEING WRONG, YOU GUYS.

On a more serious note, it would seem as though my own altar collection has blossomed to the point where I’m starting to run out of space in my bedroom.  I mean, even if I had a room just for occult and devotional work, I’d still be running out of space, but at least I’d have a space just for it.  As it is, my own altars are a little disparate, and can’t really be combined in any comfortable way: a devotional altar for prayer and meditation, my Table of Manifestation for my Hermetic work, my MaGOS/orgone generator setup, my altar to praise and work with Hermes, and another table for random rituals, consecrations, conjurations, and the like.  I like the separation of different sets of tools or goals at each altar and space, but it is starting to make my room look a little full.  How do you all deal with too many altars, or do you make a point beyond which you don’t do something with a set of forces or gods?

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About polyphanes
I'm a software developer and Hermetic occultist living near Washington, DC, USA. I claim that I'm youthful, dashing, daring, and other things. I make things and chant stuff, and periodically write about them.

7 Responses to Don’t alter that altar!

  1. Satyr Magos says:

    I’m at that threshold, myself, so I totally understand. My altars/workspace take up an entire wall of my one-bedroom apartment, and I have a mini-altar in the bedroom for a few things that don’t fit on the main space. I’ve managed to compact and rearrange everything artfully, so far, but when I remodel things this weekend to accommodate Hermes and Iris, and to put Dionysus/Protogonos/Phanes in their proper place top and center … I’m going to be officially out of room without either a major expansion or remodel of some kind.

    So … unfortunately, my best suggestion is to beg forgiveness of everyone on the altar for the nescessary crowding. And then learn carpentry. ;p

  2. We have a dedicated Temple in our house, and two altars in our messy bedroom, plus our subtle Ancestor Altar in the living room. And we came close to running out last night, anyway!

  3. Aubs Tea says:

    I was ranting about altar versus alter not ten minutes before I got the Email notification for this blog entry. Great minds.

  4. DM says:

    I’ve only got one altar that I use on a regular basis as an altar. I find myself using an old chess table more and more as an impromptu altar, though.

    On the spelling thing, I figured you’d enjoy the following. It should be posted on the wall of all freshman English classes the length and breadth of the land:

  5. Phergoph says:

    I setup an alter once. I post my magical musings from it. ;)

  6. Tom R says:

    I know having a half dozen separate altars will be a bit too much for me, so I have been looking for a set of shelves to use as a kind of vertically stacked altars. I want it to be slightly open, so it’s not crowded (I have passed on bookshelves and media shelves for this reason).

  7. Frater GS says:

    Well it is hard, I am a piscis so I pretty much sacrifice everything, even my comfort, for my spirituality and occult workings.

    I consecrated my bedroom as a Temple for Hekate, yes my whole bedroom, I dont live alone so my only full personal space is my bedroom, my bedroom is both a Temple of Hekate and a Chamber for Magickal Work, I have the main big altar for Hekate, in a beautiful table that I order to be make for Her, were I work with the Witch Gods of my Tradition and I have a small Altar in which I have my hermetics tools.

    It is not so much a separation of Dark and Light with a silly paradigma, is that I am a Magus, I work with my Dark Gods, that are my principal Path, and I recognize the power of the Empyran Realm and I work with the Guardians of that side of the tree as well, not to much but I do. I have there my books shelf full of my magickal books and so, I sleep in a mattress on the floor, is not so bad trust me, in order to just remove it from there easily when its time to work and to put the magickal circle and all the things there in the middle of the Temple.

    I had perform really powerful and dark rituals there, something that can be considered dangerous because I sleep there, but having Hekate as my Goddess, and the room dedicated to Her, can give you many advantages in the field of banishing and controlling the Dark Energies of the Dark Tree.

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