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Creating Your Own Altars

Creating Your Own Altars

Thanks to the requests of my patrons, I’ve got plenty to write about! Sheta Kay was kind enough to give me an idea for this next post. I’ve covered altars in the past, but probably not as much as I should. So, let’s talk about altars and how to construct one.

What were Altars Like in the Past?

Because of Christianity, we really don’t have much information to go on when it comes to Heathen altars.. We can assume they set altars in the corner of the house. Most likely, they had small statues and other objects that they considered holy.  Maybe they were significant to the wights of the area and the gods. Offerings were left at the indoor altar to the gods and local wights. and it was a place to reflect and pray.
Outdoor altars were typically made of stones in a cairn-like formation, or as wooden staves with the gods’ and wights’ faces carved into the pole. The Northern people drove these staves into the ground in sacred places. People probably left offerings and performed blots there.

What Did People Consider Holy Ground?

We’ve all heard of holy ground—certainly in vampire movies and other stories. But the concept of holy ground was not just confined to Christianity. As a matter of fact, our ancestors understood thresholds very well. As a result, they ringed their hofs (temples) with fences made from stone or wood. The inside yard, Heathens called a hörgr, and everything within it was considered holy.
The interesting part about the hof and hörgr was that they weren’t always used as a place of worship. The people held town meetings and thing within a hof. The hörgr might have merchants and temporary shops in an open-air market set up for people to trade and buy things.

Hof and Hörgr

Nowadays, most of us Heathens are a scattered bunch, and with COVID-19, we may be scattered even more for some time. It’s unlikely that having a hof and hörgr in most communities will happen for some time, since Heathenism is a small religion, when compared with Christianity, or even Wicca.

Creating Your Own Indoor Altar

Creating your indoor altar is relatively easy. Choose a piece of furniture, or even a shelf on a book case, and add your statues and images of the gods and wights as you see fit. You may not have the money to purchase those statues, so if you’re artistically inclined, draw or paint your own. Or maybe bring in things that remind you of the certain gods. For example, I have wolves for Tyr and Skadi, a fox for Loki, horses for Freyr and Odin, Mjolnir for Thor, and a cat for Freyja. I also have stones, feathers, and elder branches for the wights.

Outside Altars

I have instructions for creating your own outdoor altar HERE. The instructions are for a cairn, but you can also create your own outdoor altar by creating or buying staves and putting them in a special spot in your yard. I’ve heard of people using sticks, or even tongue depressors and drawing the pictures of the gods on them using permanent markers. You can also write the names of the gods you wish to honor on the stick in runes and use them that way.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas when it comes to creating your own altar. Tell me how you did in the comments and add a photo of your altar! I’d love to see it.
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Creating an Outdoor Altar

Creating an Outdoor Altar

I stumbled on this post on creating rock altars and I thought it was a good idea. Not only can you create an outdoor altar easily, but it’s low cost or free to do so. The fact that a rock altar is mentioned in the Eddas, it gives us precedence. Although I would highly dissuade you from having them steeped in the blood of your enemies — pesky laws, you know– you can easily make a rock cairn to the gods outside. I’ll look at those plus other thoughts for putting together an outdoor altar. (Yes, I know the god posts here are of Perun–get over it.)

Where to Put Your Outdoor Altar

Some of you don’t have the luxury of having acres of land. I get that. If you’re wishing to set up an outdoor altar, I’d highly recommend looking over the space you do have. If you live in an apartment, chances are, it’s going to have to be on your porch or in a place you can legitimately place your altar without trespassing or violating the laws. (Remember, I’m a follower of Tyr, so you’re going to get that from me.) If you are lucky enough to own a home with greenery to it, I suggest looking around and seeing if any place might be fitting for an outdoor altar. Maybe under a tree? Maybe in a corner where your neighbors can’t spy on you?

Anyway, wherever you choose, make sure it feels right. If necessary, ask the local wights to help you find the right place. You can get good feelings and bad feelings from places, so let that guide you toward your altar spot.

Perform a Salt Ritual on Your New Outdoor Altar Space

Once you have the spot in mind, clear the area and perform a salt purification ritual on it. The idea behind a salt purification ritual is to get rid of negative influences and wights who would try to cause harm to you and yours. Salt is a natural antibacterial agent. It kills bacteria by absorbing the water out of it. While a lot of the ritual is symbolic, you may feel better doing this ritual, even if you’re a skeptic like I am. I’ve found doing the ritual is incredibly soothing and makes me feel better. The space feels more positive. I suspect it is something in my mind, but hey, sometimes you’ve just got to take what you’re given.

Plan Your Altar

At this point, you need to have an idea how to plan your outside altar. Are you going to make a rock cairn, decorated with images and runes where you can pour your offerings on? Are you buying or creating god posts, that is, images of the gods in a wooden post you stick in the ground? Or are you planning an actual wooden, stone, or metal altar that you can put images of our gods on? All of these things are good.

My Plans for a Rock Altar

Seeing the piece about a rock altar got me thinking. I’ve been looking for smooth stone that has been worn by the elements even though I live in the mountains. The stones would come from a long dried up stream bed or maybe a glacier. I’ve been slowly collecting my stones for the cairn so I can add runes and paint them. My plan is to keep them on the porch, even though I have acres. The reason is simple: I want to be able to see it and access it even when the snows come. It requires less upkeep and lets me see the stones, reminding me of the gods and wights.