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Altar Setups - Early Llewellyn

Preliminary Post | Altar Setup Basics | Early Layouts | Early Llewellyn | Ed Fitch | Odyssean Wicca | Amber K | Doreen Valiente

Probably one of the biggest influences on a lot of Wiccans has been Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. Scott talks a bit about the ritual tools and gives a suggested altar setup, facing North:

How does this work in practice?

It’s not terrible, but it’s not great - of particular confusion to me is the location of the central placement of the cauldron, although Scott does say that you can put the materials for whatever spell or ritual you’re doing there instead. Assuming you leave the cauldron out then you’ve got an acceptable setup, no obvious fire hazards aside from the Fire candle being in front of the censer, which could be tricky when you add more incense. It’s still better than putting it right at the southern edge, but it’s still not the greatest idea. I am particularly interested that the incense itself is so far away from the censer, but I feel that Scott views the incense itself has having an Airy quality - the censer is centrally placed so as to offer the smoke to both the God and the Goddess.

I am not a fan of putting the crystal ball on the altar for no discernable reason, and I am currently of the opinion that a crystal ball should be used for divination only and as such should be kept in the dark or dim light, but that’s just me. I do not really see the utility of the bell, and have never used one in ritual.

Now, I never actually laid hands on a copy of the Solitary Guide until I was well advanced in learning. No, the very first book on any sort of pagan witchcraft I ever read was D.J. Conway’s Celtic Magic, which is…..ah, not the best book. It’s a very low-quality book, but somehow I managed to develop critical thinking and become well-read. Conway gives the following setup, facing East:

Which gives this result:

So, a few things. First, god damn, why is the sword on the altar itself, and how big is your altar that you can easily do that? Are we looking at tiny swords here (what is this, a sword for ants?)? I do not like the arrangement of chalice, water dish, and salt dish at all, and as you can see this leaves little if any room for the athame and wand. Why is the censer towards the North? Why is the left side so much more crowded than the right? No, I do not like this altar setup at all, and would never use such a layout.

Silver RavenWolf gives an example setup in her book Solitary Witch that I have on my bookshelf for some reason, which suggests the following North-pointing arrangement:

With my tool set we get this result:

Generally okay, although I’m curious about there being only one deity statue. She clearly states that the two candles at the rear are illuminator candles with no special purpose, and I don’t know why the Fire candle is in this weird no-man’s-land in the southeast (why not just move it to the southeastern corner of the altar?) but aside from that it’s inoffensive and is notable in that it’s the first layout we see here with a space for the ritual book as well as the plate of cakes (well, Triscuits in this case, but that’s all I had in the kitchen).

I’m not sure what she suggests in her other works as I was unable to find decent PDFs to see her setup. I read Teen Witch once and I just don’t recall what she says on the subject of altars in that book.

Listening to country radio this morning they talked about Taylor and KP . And how KP has been going on nonstop about their feud in her promo and THEN called Taylor’s fans a bunch a little girls. The male DJ remarks, look that part, no matter what you think about Katy or Taylor as people, or about this ridiculous feud, going after and insulting her fans, that is so messed up. Insulting Taylor is one thing, he said, but to go after her fans was just a new low …

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Now, when you’re not busy with anything job-related, how do you usually spend your time? Hobbies, perhaps? Or maybe charity work, traveling, or something else? 

DJ: All of the above. Love to travel, love to write, draw, paint, read … I come from a family of gearheads so there’s always a project in the garage. I’m basically your run-of-the-mill human male.

So I don’t know if they showed this on the stream because it was before the panel technically started, but in the leadup to the Heroines of Star Wars panels the DJ was playing a bunch of girl power music, starting with Shania Twain “Man! I Feel Like a Woman,” and the Galaxy Stage emcee (the website is telling me it’s Amanda Wirtz) had all the cosplayers dressed up as female characters parade around the hall to Beyonce – “Run the World (Girls),” of course.

First of all, it’s the only time this weekend I’ve heard non-Star Wars music, and secondly, things the emcee said that I took notes on:

“This panel is all about the heroines of Star Wars, and IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME!”

“I love Disney, but I was never a princess until I saw Star Wars and Leia.”

“This ain’t no model runway, these are STORMTROOPER GIRLS.”

And the (male) DJ saying, thrilled, “Can you believe how many men came out to see a panel on Star Wars heroines?”