A foundational aspect of my own practice, and the practice of many Witches, is the central use of a home altar in the praxis. Anytime I encounter someone that doesn’t have a permanent altar setup in their home I am taken aback for a moment. This is not to say there is anything wrong with their expression of their path, just that I find it peculiar.
Growing up all the adult Contemporary Pagans I knew, Druids and Witches alike, had altars in the home that acted as the center of their spiritual devotion. This particular list isn’t long, not from the lack of people having altars but because as a child and later as a teenager there were not too many homes of adult practitioners into which I was privy. Most of my interaction with the greater community took place through CoR. The list includes my Uncle, whose altar is the first I ever recall having seen, my Dad had an altar setup, and the Priestess of CoR. As an adult, every Traditionalist I know has an altar or more, and off the top of my head I can think of three households that have Temple rooms; other than my own. This is why I have a hard time grok’ing when this isn’t the cast.
I set up my first altar in my early teens. I set it up for the simple fact that as a devotee I believed that having an altar was a part of the normal practice of my religion. I have an at least one, usually several, for different Gods and Goddesses, ever since. For that matter, I even have an entire room designated as the Temple, which has little else other than a large altar, and some supply cabinets for the operation of the Temple. In addition to the main one in the Temple, I have a small one in the bedroom, my wife has a multitier altar in the kitchen area for her hearth workings, and there is a small one in the kitchen for family offerings during family meals (which are nightly).
An individual’s altar is their spiritual center of the household, it is the hearth. As a devotional religion the altar is our sacred center, the navel, the axis mundi, that is the conduit at which an individual works in their relationship with our Lady and our Lord. The home is the Temple and its spiritual center is the altar. It is for this reason that many altars are setup in the kitchen or living room. Here is an earlier post I made about the center of the home.
I am of the opinion, and I am sure there are individuals that can and will argue otherwise, that erecting, maintaining, and regular devotional rites at an in-home altar are essential in the religious nature of Witchcraft, and the greater Contemporary Pagan practice.
How important is your altar in your daily spiritual life?
"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."