Podcast 28 – Altars


In today’s New World Witchery, we look at different types of altars.  We’ll examine Ancestral altars, Devotional altars, and practical or spellwork altars.


Download:  New World Witchery – Episode 28

The book which Laine mentions is The Big Little Book of Magick, by D.J. Conway.

Here are some of our various altars:
Cory’s Ancestral Altar
A Devotional Altar from Cory
A practical divinatory altar space from Cory
A kitchen Devotional Altar in Cory’s home
The “indoor crossroads” altar space we mentioned

Promos & Music
Title music:  “Homebound,” by Jag, from Cypress Grove Blues.  From Magnatune.
Promo 1 – The Wigglian Way
Promo 2 – Borealis Meditations
Promo 3 – Inciting a Brewhaha

6 thoughts on “Podcast 28 – Altars”

  1. I really loved this episode (I’m something of an altar addict) but I had a question about ancestor altars and calling out their names…

    How far back should you go? Who is really important to call? Last year I did a little research into my ancestry and now I know most of my maternal grandfather’s family tree back to the 1400s, and they’re a mouthful before I even get to anyone else. I wrote a prayer to address my ancestors as a way of getting around this, but I find that I’d still like to say some names, yet I don’t want to make anyone feel snubbed.

    1. Hi Jasmine!

      Thanks for the praise on the show! We enjoyed it 🙂

      As far as your question about how far back to go, I know in some African traditions, they go back seven generations (which is pretty far). I use that as my rule of thumb, but I don’t have a full seven generations on both sides yet, so I just name as far back as I can within the lines I know. Likewise, if you have significant ancestors (cultural heroes, legendary figures, etc.), I think it’s important to name them. And personally, I incorporate non-blood members of my historical “family” who have been influential in some way, including spiritual teachers. But that’s just my way, and not something that everyone does.

      As far as the short form prayer, I do that too, sometimes. I try to make sure I do the full lineage as often as I can, but every once in a while I use a more ritual version which simply states “mothers of my mother, fathers of my father, flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood, bone of my bone,” to address my genetic ancestors. I have found that so long as I do still do the full lineage periodically, the short form seems to be fine occasionally, too.

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have more questions! And thanks for writing in with a great one!

      All the best,

  2. I find ancestor altars very interesting, although I sadly do not have one. I come from a very small family and besides my Ma and brother, most of my family, living or dead, I am not very close with…for multiple reasons I won’t discuss here because it would be better for a Springer episode! Although my grandmother on my Ma’s side, I was very close to, so I keep her in my thoughts quite a bit and have mentioned her name during seasonal celebrations.
    Another sad thing is my family, on both sides kept absolutely nothig about our family history. So most that I know I have dug up myself (like my NA background and other things like Civil War connections, etc). So I really do not have any idea what my blood line is in detail, beside where they originated, either in America (NA) or Germany. Some day I will look deeper on Ancestory.com or something.

    1. Hey, Chet, just wanted to say that I don’t have a strong connection to my blood anscestors, per se, but a very strong connection to my spiritual anscestors plus a huge respect and love for the beloved dead in general.

      Or in other words, imo, there’s no need to be limited by a small family or limited known anscestors in the process of connecting to anscestors through an altar or any other method. 🙂

      1. Saturn,
        Wow, excellent thoughts my friend! I never really thought of it that way. As much as I do not have a big connection with my known ancestors, I have a very strong connection with my spiritual ancestors, mainly from my Native American (Cherokee)side. I “speak” with tham at solstices, but maybe I should set something up from them all the time, preferably outside in my garden or along my tree line.
        Got me thinking! Thanks!

  3. ha ha! and now on with my regularly scheduled random commenting!

    Really enjoyed this episode, and while I may always love your stuff, my particular enjoyment on this one may become evident as I share my personal altar experiences.

    I am an altar ho. I never meant to be. I certainly didn’t plan it. But here I am nonetheless.

    Current altars in my home (now, it’s important to note that I live alone and so can indulge to my heart’s content, and I’d also like to say that this wasn’t planned, it simply evolved into my current living practice). Oh, and I loved the phrase “living spaces” for the interactions between us and our altars and keeping them alive. Every now and again I’ll look at an altar and realize that a simple change isn’t enough, that an entire overhaul is required where I take it down to bare wood (or what have you), clean and start over. And sometimes I close them off, and it goes away and may return in a different manner later or be replaced or…but I digress.

    So, in my upstairs dance/ritual room (the joy of a dance area is that it, too, requires lots of open spaces, encouraging a lack of accumulating crap lol) there is:
    – main altar, you’d probably call this a spell altar. It typically has a goddess & god candle and then whatever I’m working on at the time. It also has two shelves that hold various items, particularly god/dess candles and moon ritual gear & coven stuff
    – four elemental altars, each of which is actually a free standing little shelf unit and thus has all kinds of magical/crafting items stored away in them (candles, incenses, bottles, writing utensiles, my tarot collection etc etc)
    – six deity mini altars (I’ve been meaning to get a small wall shelf for each of them to put an offering plate on, and I’m feeling rather pushed to do it having listened to this episode lol). These are for specific detiies that I work with.

    Living area:
    – used to have a death/change altar which has closed down and has not yet percolated into a new home (though I expect it too, right now its all resting in a small cardboard casket I got on my 18th birthday lol)
    – anscestor altar which has been relocated due to renos and hasn’t yet found its new home, also want to include pictures of old time pagans on it.
    – offering altar to the three kindreds (deity, anscestors and nature spirits). Why this exists separate from spaces dedicated to more specific entities of these groups I’m not sure, but I don’t have to intelectually understand it for it to feel right. Maybe its to bring their influence into the more mundane parts of my living.

    – personal and universal altars. Now these are a bit different. Here I’m using various components, frequently stones due to my stone obsession, to work on me personally and me within the Universe. These can be seen as long-term personal spellwork altars. These are for working on parts of me that I want to work on and to expand my awareness into the greater Universe. Unlike the other altars which all have an aspect of communication and reaching outwards, these altars are devoted to inner work and communion with the All. Probably why they’re in the bedroom, more personal and private.

    Told you I was an altar ho. 😉

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