1st Wednesday: Let’s dig through the old mailbag!
First off, welcome to the path! May you be blessed on your journey.
Now, the answer to your question: you don’t actually need to use anything. And if you’re not sure what would fit on your altar, it’s a good sign you’re not ready to choose just yet. A lot of sources would have new Wiccans believe they need to run out and buy a bunch of stuff to set up on an altar to start practicing their faith. This, in my opinion, is a backwards approach. Ritual tools and supplies don’t come before practice; practice of your spirituality will lead you to the proper ritual tools and supplies.
I usually have my students just clear off a place. Clean it, make it comfortable, dedicated it for spiritual use, and then if desired, they might start small with like an incense burner or a couple of candles to aid their meditation. As they learn and grow, they start adopting tools and filling their altar.
Specifically, in reference to God/dess figures or objects that represent deities, keep in mind, the deities don’t need such things. They’ll be there when you call Them, regardless of whether you use symbols upon the altar to represent Them. If you do want those symbols, there’s no rush to get them. It’s okay to go on for a while just waiting for something in particular to grab your attention.
If you really feel you personally need such symbols to help you focus, then there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ones; it’s more of what works for you or not. Think about it: to whom do you actually pray? Perhaps you have a Patron God and/or Matron Goddess; you have received a clear calling, perhaps, from Cerridwen and Cernunnos. Then a little statue, a framed picture, a small figurine that represents these deities to you is a fine addition to your altar.
What if, on the other hand, you don’t have so clear-cut an idea of deity yet? You might still be examining how you view the nature of the divine. You might just be starting to develop a relationship with the divine, but in a very abstract way (perhaps you’re exploring the concept of Moon Goddesses and Sun Gods)? Well there’s no reason to commit, then, to any altar decorations. Again, you can omit such symbols until you find something that feels right to you; or you can keep it very simple, such as a white/silver candle for a Moon Goddess and a yellow/gold candle for a Sun God. These will serve until (if/when) the time comes that you find something you like better.
Altars are a very personal thing, as is what you should put on it. Rather than saying, ‘what can I get to put on my altar,’ I would advise to start thinking of it in terms of, ‘why should I put [this object] on my altar? Do I need it? Am I ready to work with it? Does it fit my spiritual journey right now?’ Be selective, basically. It’s your sacred space, and you will continue to build it as your spirituality flourishes, so there’s no rush. Our altars, like ourselves, are works in progress.
Hope that helps you sort things out for yourself, Bright Blessings!
That is an interesting occurrence. It is good to do your research when you feel you’re getting signs, and numbers can sometimes be telling us something important. Try keeping a journal and writing down these kinds of experiences– you’ll be glad you did in time!
But you also have to take it with a grain of salt. We can get our signals mixed up, or sometimes it can take years for a sign to fully reveal itself and what it meant.
Personally I don’t believe any signs require you to practice Witchcraft; we have free will. Signs are just that– signs, not commandments. You can still say ‘no.’
However, if you do want to practice the Craft, you can certainly make that choice as well. Witchcraft is a Craft, a literal skill; no one is born a Witch (though some may have more natural talent than others, it’s something anyone can learn; and even those with natural talent have to apply themselves or they won’t get very far).
Ultimately it’s up to you whether or not you want to ‘pick up the broomstick,’ signs or no signs. So no pressure– you still get to make the choice for yourself. Hope that helps!
I am so so sorry about your dog. As an animal lover, and a fellow momma to a fur baby who is getting on in his years, I completely sympathize. No matter what your religious beliefs are, this is an agonizing decision to have to make.
On the topic of euthanasia and Wicca, I think it’s something we have to each examine within ourselves. There’s no Wiccan doctrine or scriptures that are easily going to solve this puzzle. I understand how you feel about ‘playing god’ and wonder if it’s your call to make, and there are great arguments for letting nature take its course.
While I respect those feelings and am not judging them, I’d like to offer a different perspective. In my opinion, I’m comfortable with euthanasia. I even support right-to-die decisions for terminally ill humans, ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ orders, and the like. I don’t feel like it’s playing God to end a life that’s coming to a close, anymore than taking antibiotics to heal an infection or having life-saving heart surgery is playing God by preventing death.
We have a lot of opportunities in this day and age to extend our lives, even though these medications and procedures technically go against nature. I don’t think there’s anything more wrong with a procedure to end our lives, or the lives of our beloved pets, under certain circumstances. There are times when it’s worth fighting death, and using everything you’ve got; but there are also times when I feel it’s okay to give into it. When death is close, and someone — human or furbaby — is suffering greatly, and suffering is all they really have left, I don’t see it as unnatural to choose to end life quietly, peacefully, painlessly and with dignity.
But again, this is my point of view, and you need to do what’s right for you and your pet. I don’t envy the decision you have to make, but I’m sure whatever choice you do make will be the right one for you and your beautiful dog. Your choice will be what’s best for the moment, a choice made out of love, and your dog will know that.
I wish you and your precious furbaby peace and many blessings– in this life, and the next.
Your own advice, experience, etc?
Do you think I totally blew it, and you disagree with me?
Please feel free to comment! And if you have a question for me, send it to me and I might answer it in a future mailbag installment.