Pagan living in small spaces ~ creating a working altar - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 09-01-2003, 05:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi, I'm moving into a wee small house with my partner and 4 yo daughter and wanting to establish space for my spiritual practice in a solid, functional way. In our old house I have had a few altars, but they seemed more decorative than functional. What I want is a place that I can sit in front of and pray, sing, do ritual work and tarot. I want a place that calls to me and invites me to pay attention to my spiritual path. At this point it is mostly a personal experience, more than a family experience, although my daughter likes to be able to put special things on the altar. I find that my time for spirit work is after bedtime at night or before they wake up in the morning, so it makes the bedrooms impractical for a working altar. That leaves the tiny living room or tiny kitchen.

How do you do it? Do you have a personal altar in a private space, or a family altar in your common space, or both? What's on it? At the moment I keep my actual ritual stuff (mostly seems like burnable things, smudge, magical incense, candles, bell, goddess figure, tarot cards, shell and feather) in a vintage suitcase, a portable altar kit that I take out and set up each time I want to do ritual work. It seemed like a pretty great idea at the time, but now I realize that I don't want my spirit work to be something I pack away and hide under the bed, ya know?

Looking forward to hearing about your altars and any ideas you have as I start to create my own, Emily
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#2 of 7 Old 09-01-2003, 06:08 PM
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I have both, although the one in the living room (family one) isn't a working altar. I don't make any offerings at it, it's more of a seasonal altar/nature table type thing. The one is my bedroom is my personal altar that I make offerings at ect.

Is it possible for you to set up a wall shelf or display case/cupboard that is out of your dds reach that you could keep your things out on but move to a lower table when you use them?? I'm thinking one that would be just above the table that way they are close. My personal altar of actually my dds old toddler craft table. She is a teen now and doesn't need it and it's the perfect height to sit or kneel in front of when working. I keep a big pillow to sit on under it.

here is the link to a previous thread we had about pagan altars, maybe there is something in there you could use?
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#3 of 7 Old 09-01-2003, 10:02 PM
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Hi there!

Our alters are so cool, I love them and so do our kids; One is actually in our frontroom, our kids put drawings on it, add and take away stones and rocks, feathers, things from outside. A seven day candle is usually always going. I also think I would like an alter where I can sit though, I may work on that.

Me and my husband both have alters on top of our dressers that are our own.

Ahhhhh.........lovely thoughts.
Hope yours is wonderful!!!
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#4 of 7 Old 09-02-2003, 12:31 AM
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We have a too-small-to-use corner on the kitchen counter to one side of the sink. I had a small fountain there for a while, but now it's more of an altar. New feathers and rocks and such show up occasionally. I can contemplate while washing the pots and pans.

Can you set up something outside? I had an arrangement of flat rocks under a curly willow tree where I could sit. Now it's overgrown with thyme, which I love, but it's not so good for sitting in.

"What will you do once you know?"
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#5 of 7 Old 09-02-2003, 06:36 AM
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sorry, having to remove all posts with personal info due to an online stalker.
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#6 of 7 Old 09-02-2003, 09:17 AM
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We're in a two bedroom apartment (literally a two-up, two-down), and space is at a premium! I use a nightstand that came from DH's old house, and that he wanted to toss. It's got vaguely Art Deco styling on the two drawers, and I found a small wall outside of our closet where it fits. I keep a small pewter cauldron on it, along with statues of Sekhmet and Bastet, a flask of water, and an incense burner. With a small "prayer rug" on the floor in front of it, it is the perfect place for ritual, for me.

DS (although not a practicing pagan), uses his window sill for objects that speak to him. Currently, the window sill is holding a small statue of Ganesha, a fossilized mosasaur tooth, a hematite, and a rose quartz.
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#7 of 7 Old 09-02-2003, 09:15 PM - Thread Starter
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It's nice to read the responses so far, there's so many ways to do it. I like the idea of having different kinds of altars for different purposes. One idea that I've had is to have low bookshelves in the living room (the old cheap dorm room style with cinderblocks and boards) with a spot for an altar on top. I like Arduinna's suggestion of a cabinet/shelves above it, if it's in front of a window I might instead have an altar cloth that hangs down over the front of the bookshelf with storage behind it.

I'm also checking out the yard, there's some nice trees and overgrown shrubs that could make a cozy little shrine area.

For some reason this is one of the biggest issues of the move for me. I guess it's feeling really important to create space in my life (in my relationship, in my mothering, in my women's circle, etc.) for my spiritual path, and the issue of how to create physical altar space for my spirit work is a reflection of the larger theme right now.

Plus it's so much more fun than packing boxes, cleaning and painting!
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