March 13th, 2017 – So You Want to Build and Altar – Part 4
Stones or Crystals
For the Earth element, in the North, stones and sometimes crystals are used. These bring in Earth energy, which helps with grounding (except perhaps for quartz crystals). Gem stones also carry certain energies which can be invoked by having them on your altar. There are also hearth stones that can be placed at each of the four corners as markers for the four directions. Usually these are used in outside settings. I often adorn my altar with various stones to enhance the energies being worked with.
The wand is like a portable, handy version of a broom and is mostly used in Wicca and other similar practices. There is a theory that originally one instrument performed all the purposes served by the two today. A wand can be made of any natural material. Wood tends to be considered traditional. Since all woods have unique Powers, you may like to choose the wood to suit your particular needs.
Wands can be used for divination and channeling magical energy. They can be used to cast and recall circles, in place of the athame. The magical wand goes in the South, for the power of will, magic, and transformation. It also represents yang, or god, energy.
Other Altar Tools
A broom is not necessarily classified among altar tools, but it is indispensable for energetically cleansing sacred space. While handy to keep nearby, brooms are usually too unwieldy to put atop an altar. It is best to make your own besom/broom for this use. DO NOT use a broom you use for regular every day cleaning of your home or space.
Traditionally cast iron, a cauldron is like a 3-legged rounded cooking pot. You can get them in sizes from huge to tiny. Cauldrons are handy items for burning things, like incense and herbs. This is one of the reasons it is one of the most common altar tools.
Put an incense charcoal in the bottom, and sprinkle the herbs and powders onto it for very pagan incense. I have a small cauldron that fits on the altar for this purpose. Caution is required when burning anything, of course. Cast iron on legs, if made properly, will keep the heat from the surface it’s standing on, but check to make sure. I have also placed sand in the bottom as extra insulation. Also be aware of anything flammable nearby or above the cauldron – particularly sleeves and hair!
Check back next week for part 5, the final installment.