How to Use Elements on Your Altar
Last week’s blog was an excellent overview of sacred altars.
This week, I want to delve a little deeper into a foundation to Pagan practice.
Connecting your altar to the elements.
This can be a powerful way to call upon the powers of nature to begin your meditation/ceremony/ritual/etc.
First…the directions and their elements
North - Earth: salt, soil
East - Air: bell, fan, feather, athame, incense, specific herbs
South - Fire: candles, bonfire
West - Water: cauldron, chalice, bowl
Spirit - 5th element: mirror, crystal ball, goddess statue, pics of ancestors (all metaphors for spirit)
It’s good to place each element in order of directions with spirit in the middle.
We usually start the practice by looking to the East or using symbolic tools to represent the directions.
The element of the East is air, and can be represented by a bell, a feather, fans, athames, incense, and specific herbs.
The air is a manifestation of movement and intellect; it inspires us to have dreams, ideas and knowledge.
Sound carries in the air, so sound is also symbolic.
It’s vital to our existence - and represents new life, inspires new thoughts, and is essential in workings for traveling, finding lost items and freedom.
When you’re in a rut…look eastward for inspiration.
Turning the wheel to the south and there we find the element of fire.
On our altar, we have a candle burning brightly; a source of transformative change, bringing light, warmth and destruction.
Turning to the south is seeking warmth (while at the same time controlling the destructive aspects), seeking out change that will bring us out of hibernation and towards action.
This is useful for manifesting healing, purification, sex, or breaking bad habits.
Turning the wheel once again to the west, we find the element of water.
The west calls us towards self-reflection and self-awareness. West instructs us to let emotions run through us like water in a river.
This can sometimes be smooth and calm or sometimes rough and terrifying.
Damming up our emotions is like damming a raging river - the water will overflow and leak and find an outlet, and it’s sometimes not the best option.
When you need to work on your emotions, look towards the west, which is symbolized by water in a cauldron, chalice or bowl on your altar.
And at last, we arrive to the north, representing the earth and symbolized on our altars by salt or soil.
North is our grounding place where we find stability and space to grow and feel nurtured.
The north/earth is our place of balance and deep wisdom. It’s a place of rest for our spiritual and physical selves.
Spirit - the life force
Many add the element of Spirit as the fifth element; the life force that runs through everything.
It’s symbolized by mirrors, crystal balls, goddess statues, photos of ancestors, which are all metaphors for spirit.
Placed on an altar, it completes the balance of the other four elements.
Have fun but be intentional with your altar design.
If you’re not 100% sure or would like additional guidance, we’re offering an “Altars and Sacred Spaces” class in early May 2022 that will provide a hands-on altar building experience.