I change the temple twice a year in January and August. I will go out to the old barn where we have our temple set up, open all the doors and windows, wipe down any webs, and then sit in the center of the room and meditate on the space. Now with a smaller space like our private family temple in the house, it’s a lot easier to figure out how to redecorate. I’ll move altars, change each one with new candle holders, candles, statuary, or symbolic offerings based on whim. I change the private temple monthly only because I don’t like stagnation in the temple. I want a flow of constant change so that going into the temple never seems stale or boring for myself, my husband, or our children.
However, when it comes to the bigger space, the temple in the barn that we use for group gatherings, that’s a different story. We use it once a month and it must accommodate and serve groups of twenty to seventy-five during these monthly rituals. Therefore meditating on the space and setting it up for efficiency is key. While we do use the station method, a method by which altars are set up for procession from one station to the next such as blood-letting, request burning, abyssal communion, magick working, we also have elemental and keeper altars at the ready based on ritual. This means that we may change the set up month to month based on the needs of the ritual being worked but for six months out of the year, all our group altars stay decorated with the same decor.
Elemental altars are no brainers. A beautiful vase filled with sand, rocks, and flowers currently sits on my earth altar. But I’ve also chosen statues of the Baphomet, bowls of garden soil, houseplants, bowls of fruits or vegetables and even beautiful rocks as altar centerpieces. For water I’ve used fountains, ornate cups and chalices, sand and sea shells, a goldfish in a bowl, and one summer our water altar held a lava lamp. For fire I generally create beautiful candle displays or we simply use a fire pit since our south quarter is where the doors of the barn are. This means we can put the fire pit just outside the doors. We’ve been able to do some creative ritual with this set up. We’ve also used torches. For Air altars we’ve used birds in cages to large incense burners. One summer, when our air conditioner was out for two weeks, my daughter put a fan on the air altar. The only limitation to your altars is your imagination.
When I set up the ritual space I don’t just think about the decor, but I also meditate on how it will be used and how many people it must accommodate. There must be a flow to the space so that participants can move through the space in a way that they’re not running into each other and everything proceeds in an uninterrupted order for maximum efficiency. I take into account the robes participants wear because that determines the space required between the center of the ritual space and the outside altars and the space between altars. We don’t want to catch anyone’s robes on fire.
For those of you who are solitary or who live with roommates who are uncomfortable or unaware of your spiritual practices, consider temple spaces and altars that are disguised as regular home decor. A beautiful vase of flowers, a lovely incense burner, candle displays and a container of sand and shells can look classy and function as elemental altars. Your dining room table can serve as an offering altar with a new centerpiece month-to-month. No one need know what it is if you’re creative enough.
Happy temple and altar creation!