How to create a modern altar

Oya by quirkybird @Flickr (creativeb commons)Talking about building an altar can be more than a little misleading in today’s technological world.  Even Pagans that choose to design a more traditional type of altar rarely actually build them.  Most will simply decorate something that is already present in their homes (tables, shelves, desks, fireplace mantles, dressers, night stands etc.) or create a portable altar out of a cardboard box.

Though a traditional altar works well if you live alone without pets or are blessed enough to have a dedicated room that you can seal off when you’re not using it, it becomes a complicated item to maintain for anything more than a brief ceremony in most other cases.  Think children, random visitors and pets curiously touching and toying with the sacred objects.

To counter the challenge a traditionalist will often choose to take the altar up and down as needed.  It is a workable solution but it’s also time consuming and because it is, more time is spent in preparation than in actually making a connection with the divine.  This defeats the whole reason for building an altar in the first place.

In this digital age, there is a simpler solution.  Why not make use of your mobile, tablet, PC and even your TV?

Use your camera and the web to collect images rather than objects.  Then use a photo-editing tool to combine them in any way that helps you connect with the divine.  You could create a background and paste images of things you would have on a physical altar or you could just create a collage.  The only limitations are the ones you put on yourself.

Once your altar is the way you want it save it as background or a picture file.  Now when you are ready to connect with divinity at your altar, find a quiet spot and turn on your gadget.

This month, the Soul Path Tribe and I are going to be designing altars dedicated to the goddess Oya.  If you would like to join us, here are a few images, objects should you choose the traditional method, which you might like to add to your altar for her:

  • River stones- make sure to petition and receive an OK from Oya first.
  • A hair from the tail of a black mare that has fallen out.
  • A model or picture of a water buffalo.
  • Anything coloured maroon.
  • Graveyard dust.
  • A gift of black-eyed peas.
  • Aubergines.

If you make a virtual altar and want to share your photos, I’d love to see them!

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