Welcome to part two of “Homemade Altars”! You made it through my bungled attempt at speaking about something I haven’t really devoted a lot of time to – yet. But, altars outdoors, I can tell you about. I have built several, from the simple pile of rocks to an elaborate stone circle with altar, to spirit houses, and everything in between.
Keep in mind that the conditions around the place you want to build your altar are important. Are you on high ground? Because if you’re not, your altar’s surrounding area may become wet, flood, or in the very least, remain muddy long after the majority of other places in the woods.
What about property rights? I have to my name, no wooded area. The places I build my altars are usually public, state, county, or sometimes, private property. If its yours, secrecy isn’t a big thing. But, if it isn’t your property, you may find one day that you enter the area and suddenly, you find it destroyed. You want to be able to safely access the altar you’ve built, but at the same, you have to care for it – if its on the side of a well worn track, chances are that some other, less respectful members of the human race, will do something to the energy that you are trying to create.
Materials: if you’re in a wooded area and want to make a stone altar, but there are no rocks in sight, that means that you will have to carry your rocks. Generally, with any altar, you want to try to use objects and plant life that is native to the area. You don’t really want to go and buy mulch to put around your altar in the middle of a patch of woods. It just ruins the effect.
In addition, you want to make sure that your materials won’t harm the wildlife around. If you leave an offering of grapes, for example, make sure you didn’t leave something that could injure the wildlife too, such as an inordinate amount of milk chocolate, or a plastic bag, or one of those six pack plastic holders that we were always told, would kill fish. Remember, you’re not the only one using the woods. Don’t leave any hazardous materials that could run off with rain – aerosol cans, lighter fluid, etc.
Advantages to building an altar outside
- Closer connection to nature
- Freedom of worship in a secure area – no telephone, no screaming kids, etc.
- Beauty of the seasons all around you
- Freedom of the area – you can build the altar as big or as small as you want – in an enclove, or all around a tree, or in a wide open field.
- If you’re in the north like I am, ‘skyclad’ doesn’t happen in the fall and the winter.
- The weather can prevent a trip for you
- Distance – it might take you a 1/2 mile walk, or a 30 minute drive, to get to your altar.
- Natural wear and tear – you’ll find that the stones, the trees – everything undergoes the natural process. Things may fall, or break. Therefore, it might take more upkeep to keep an outdoor altar
What’s your altar look like? For a long time, I had 4 very large stones built to have a waist high altar, via a rectangular shape (we had storage underneath!). It was in the center of a stone circle, and in the south, there was a small spirit house. To the west was a creek, flowing north. In the east was a small valley for deer to bed on, and in the north, we had an open space to celebrate. The entire area was encased in a small, horseshoe shaped valley just off of a trail. We had our area destroyed, close to three times, before we left it and moved. Soon after, we disbanded, but I still visit on occasion.
Use your heart, and all will turn out beautiful.