"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." -Richard Dawkins

Monday, April 18, 2011

Setting up a Pagan Altar for Children

(I was reminded that I had written this when writing about our nature table. I hacked it together quickly a few years ago when I considered applying to write for the Examiner, which I never did. I figured I'd post it here and get it out of the way. Above, my old altar from our house in Mesa.)

It’s probably safe to say that most Pagans with home Altars have a certain degree of reverence for their space. The likelihood that this space is filled with things of a delicate or dangerous nature his high. Ceramic bowls, incense burners and candlesticks, sharp athames and matches, even perfume oils and large stones can pose a potential threat to even the most gentle and intelligent child. 

A great idea for any Pagan family with young children would be to help them build an altar of their very own. Choose a low table, such as a coffee table, one which could easily be found at a local thrift shop or garage sale. Help the children choose an altar cloth, either by going to a local fabric store, or purchase a few “playsilks” in seasonally appropriate colors that you can rotate as the year passes. 

Then, together as a family project, you might craft deity sculptures (or buy them online if you’re not so crafty,) made from wood or cloth, or use an applicable action figure. Even dressing a Barbie up as a Goddess would encourage play and connectivity with spirituality. Once the basis for the altar is set, make a point of motivating them to choose personal items to adorn it with, such as small figurines, stones, feathers or artwork. The more they add, the more personal it will become, changing with the seasons as each child puts their personal mark on the altar space.

If candles are an important part of ritual time with your children, get them their very own! Wax or plastic LED luminaries that click on and off can be found nearly everywhere. A set of three, for example, for the God, Goddess, and Ancestors, would be a lovely and safe addition to any child’s altar space.

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