Altars as Vehicles of Communication
Other powers: your Magic Allies
Altars are tableaux or arrangements of specific articles. The simplest altar consists of nothing more than a candle and a glass of water. The most lavish, complex Vodoun altars are small rooms packed with lovingly, meticulously arranged treasures. Every item or article involved in the creation of an altar is carefully chosen. In addition to objects, candles, fragrance, food and drink may be included on an altar. Nothing is random.
ALTARS SERVE MANY PURPOSES
· They call in spiritual assistance. The components of the altar serve as signals to the spirit that their presence is desired. The components traditionally share in the essence of that spirit or else they are favored materials. The arrangement attracts the spirit's notice and welcomes them.
· Altars serve as a forum for communication. By adjusting the items upon your altar, you can demonstrate your needs using symbolic language. For instance, you might maintain a permanent altar to Oshun, a particularly versatile, powerful and gregarious spirit. However by varying the colors of the candles you signal what your immediate needs may be. Oshun's personal colors are yellow and orange: a yellow or orange candle is burned to signal that it is her presence, not another's, that you invite. In addition, you might also burn a blue candle for physical healing or emotional relief or a green one if your immediate crisis is cash.
· Altars serve as a focal point. You don't truly need an altar. You don't really need anything. Whatever communication transpires actually occurs on the mental or spiritual plane. Spirit magic is potentially the least expensive magic of all: all the items, all the fragrances or incense are merely vehicles, signals or tributes. All that you truly need is your ability to concentrate and create that mental connection with the spiritual entity. Once you're experienced, you'll recognize when the connection has been made; it's as if a switch has been turned on or a phone line is suddenly open. This can be done via visualization, dreams or pure focused thought. However, as simple as that sounds, the reality is that for many people this process can be extremely challenging, especially in the beginning. The altar creates a point upon which to focus one's attention, making it easier to focus upon the spirit and intensify concentration and communication.
· Statues and images of spirits serve the same purpose. They serve to focus our inner vision. If they help you, the image can serve as the center of the altar, the eye upon which you focus. If you're uncomfortable with graven images, just don't use them. They're not for you. Don't confuse the image with the deity, who is a spirit being, although some sacredness will eventually attach to all components of an altar and many feel that once something has been included on an altar, it should then be reserved for sacred purposes.
· Images and altars create a comfortable home for the spirit, a preferred rest stop on their journeys, so to speak. If they're happy, they'll linger and potentially offer assistance without your having to ask or even be able to identify what it is you need help with. You provide spirits with a comfortable, clear way to communicate with you.
· Altars serve as tribute and thanks for favors and wisdom granted.
The most traditional altars are placed on tables. They may also be built outside. Place altars where the spirit is most likely to be happy. Water spirits enjoy the bathroom, fire spirits the hearth. Spirits of romance like to be in the bedroom; their invisible presence can add sparks to your love life.