Altared Evolution

by Jenwytch (9/8/2010)

When I first started exploring Witchcraft and Paganism in 2003 I created a very subtle and unobtrusive little altar, on a kitchen windowsill, which had meaning for me but would not be recognised as a pagan altar by my family or friends. I was very worried about “coming out of the broom closet” at the time. My altar consisted of a small statue, a plant and a crystal, set on the windowsill above my essential oil vaporiser and boxes of aromatherapy oils, and a censer for incense. There were also a few sun catchers hanging in the window. When I did any ritual work I would set my tools and candles out on the bench top, then pack them all away when finished. Click on the photos to enlarge…

My first altar – early 2004

I became more open about my witchy inclinations (with my husband and kids anyway) and gradually the collection in the window and on the windowsill grew until it looked like this…

Imbolc 2004 with Lavender from my garden

…in February 2005 it was still very basic

By March 2005 it had grown to include a few more crystals and some Egyptian figurines, and my cauldron was now kept in full view in the corner on the bench top. I had also acquired a cute little “besom” which I hung on the wall to the left. My kids had now nicknamed it “Mum’s Crazy Window”. 😀

Egyptian figurines added

My cauldron and more candles were kept in the corner to the left

Ostara 2006 saw “Mum’s Crazy Window” evolve to a new level of craziness, with a new altar box added, plus more candles (which were always moved away from the curtains before being lit!) and more crystals, sun catchers, Egyptian statues and glass figurines. People commented on my “interesting” home decor, lol. 😀

“Mum’s Crazy Window”

By November 2007 my collection had grown even more and now included a dragon sword and lots of dragon statues, plus a full-sized besom I had made. I bought a secondhand timber filing cabinet, rearranged the family room and used the filing cabinet as a new altar. It just didn’t seem right to totally abandon my crazy window so I left a lot of the smaller items on it …I now had two altars in the kitchen/family room area. By this time everybody knew I was into “Witchy stuff”.

The new altar beside my desk, November 2007

This altar also changed appearance, gradually having more things added to it or removed from it, depending on the season being celebrated.

Beltane 2007 (with our wedding anniversary flowers on the altar)

Summer Solstice 2007

Imbolc 2008 – new Dragon lamp plus lots more…

Ostara 2008 – new chalice & “volcano” candle

January 2009 – new crystal ball & incense holder

The altar remained in this location, the decorations changing slightly every so often, until August 2010 when my eldest son decided to clean out his bedroom and get some new furniture for it. This meant he no longer needed his 3 drawer “1970’s brown” metal filing cabinet. I needed more filing space in the family room for personal paperwork so I eventually worked out a way to fit in the extra cupboard so it looked OK, and combined with the wooden filing cabinet it gave me a bigger altar. The dragon collection has grown, along with my collection of magickal tools and assorted bits and pieces and gifts from friends and family …people know I like shiny things! 😀

I’ve sometimes considered the idea of having my own special magickal room, with an altar and all my books and paraphernalia being kept in the one place (my Pagan books are at present kept in my bedroom — no room downstairs with the other general books). But that requires at least one of my four sons to move out of home, and that certainly doesn’t look like happening any time soon, even though the older two are 24 and 20 years old. Besides, the kitchen/family room area is the heart of the home, and with the open layout I can be in touch with all areas of the house from there and still be with family instead of being locked away in my own little room (although that would be good sometimes!). I guess I’m still really a kitchen witch at heart. 🙂

The altar has moved to the other side of the room, so everything else has been moved too. Here’s a tour of my family room and kitchen…

My new altar, on top of two filing cabinets.

The wooden cabinet is as deep as the metal one is wide, so put together this way they actually fit in the room better and the drawers of the metal filing cabinet open out beside the window …looks a bit odd but it’s practical. The tall chest of drawers beside the altar contains all my magickal supplies — herbs (the ones that aren’t kept in the pantry), incense, charcoal blocks, candles and various candle and incense holders, small bags, other magickal tools, tarot cards, and “things-that-might-come-in-handy” etc.

The wall where the altar used to be (chair covered for Shelby (dog) to snooze on)

The new altar — includes display/storage space plus a clear working area

East (oil burner, censer, bell, wand) and South (stone ‘egg’, salt lamp, green-earth-dragon-on-book storage box)

West (chalice, selenite spire, scrying bowl, beach rocks, cauldron) and North (athame, salt tealight holder). Candle in foreground and charcoal block/herbs in bowl were part of some spellwork.

I also have dragons placed around the room to represent the four directions or quarters…

Dragons of the East – Air

Dragons of the North – Fire

The northern corner also has a drawing of a dragon (computer graphic created by my son ‘J’ for his Year 10 “Major Work” for Visual Art) as well as my first dragon sword. And yes, I know there’s a painting of the ocean there as well, but the painting looked best on that wall. It does feature the sun, so that counts as fire in the northern sky …although the painting is of a sunrise (east) or sunset (west). Oh well, it was too difficult to get everything absolutely perfect …some compromises had to be made.

Dragons of the West – Water

Dragons of the South – Earth

In case you’re wondering about some of the odd things around the rest of the room, I have a collection of old toasters, a 1930s room heater and my grandparents’ original Bakelite telephone on top of one cupboard (and a couple of old meat grinders/mincers attached on the lower shelves)…

…a collection of coloured bottles, filled with water which is probably absorbing the qualities of those colours …could come in handy for spellwork. There’s also a concrete frog there that I painted for my grandparents years ago, but now they’ve passed over, I’ve got froggy back again…

There’s a small collection of old kettles, teapots and water jugs, plus a set of old post office scales on another cupboard…

…and in the photo below you can see a new cauldron has appeared in the corner …it’s great for cooking up potions of the edible variety! “Mum’s Crazy Window” is still a very special little corner, now with a water fountain …it is more or less on the western side of the house. There is a river just west of my house so it’s quite appropriate to have water in the west, even though I’m on the east coast of Australia with the ocean in the east. Directional correspondences vary depending on where you are or who you’re talking to …it’s a whole other topic and best left for another time. 😀

…and there’s a collection of old wirelesses and radios, plus old irons and two old food mixers over the top of the other side of the kitchen cupboards. Yes, they are all very dusty …one day I will get off my computer and climb up there with a duster and clean them all …one day, just not today, hehe…

By the way, my husband thinks it’s ironic (hehe) that although I hate ironing and very rarely do it, I have such a large collection of irons. The one I use (occasionally) should really be up on the cupboard as well now as I bought it in 1978! 😉

Well, that’s it for now …hope you enjoyed the tour! 😀

9th August, 2010