Monday, April 3, 2017

The Ease of Constructing a Basic Greek Altar

One thing I love to teach people as a Hellenic priest and writer is how to construct places of worship and carry out rites. One of the reasons I enjoy teaching this is because it's not as hard or costly as some people might think or portray, especially if you're creating what I call "natural altars." It is not a complicated trade whatsoever. Lots of practitioners have really beautiful and elaborate shrines and altars with numerous statues and the like, but these things are not needed to carry out Hellenic worship. All you really need is a basic altar where you can pray, make offerings and sacrifices, and carry out ritual work. The fancy things are nice, and can indeed help with focus, but it's important to remember that the niceties are not what you're worshiping. The Gods, Spirits and Heroes are not statues, temples, or elaborate tapestries and pottery. To connect with the Gods simply because they are the Gods, is the greatest achievement.

As you can see in the picture above, the main altar of my own shrine is a simple stack of stones, which is a traditional structure of the Greek altar. It's a very simple design. These earthly pebbles were purchased for less than $1, but you can also find natural stones probably out in your yard or driveway. You only need to properly wash and cleanse them before making into an altar. Upon this stack of simple natural stones, once dedicated to your worship and the Gods, you can carry out any kind of religious practice that needs or involves an altar or a worship space. Incense can be burned upon it, libations poured, and general offerings placed. It's also very appropriate to recite prayers, hymns and practice worship here. 

So if you want to make a genuine Hellenic altar right now, find yourself a proper and safe surface, go get some natural stones, and cleanse and stack them there. This simple, virtually cost-free method is all you need to begin practicing Greek Polytheism. Everything else can come later in good time as you are able, should you choose. 

To dedicate and officially "open" your natural altar, you might recite a prayer along these lines and light a cone of incense as your first offering to The Dodekatheon at this structure,

Upon this sacred structure,
I request the blessings and recognition of the Gods of Olympus,
that it may now be a holy altar in their honor and glory.

In the Goodness of the Gods,


Dylan said...

I've heard about stones and other natural objects being used as altars in natural conditions, like caves, crossroads, etc. I've never heard about them being used inside homes as altars, with the exception of perhaps Hermes Propylaios, Apollon Aguieus, and Hekate Triformis, where their Shrine(s) were outside the house proper.

It's an interesting idea for newcomers, and can serve as an early focal point for simple Sacrifices.

The Altar that serves as the Household Altar for my Oikos has a bronze tripod on which I have placed a stoneware bowl so that I can burn my Libations and Offerings with no trouble. It also has a jury-rigged incense burner that works like a charm, a candle Hestia's Flames (which I light from my Hearth candle that is always kept burning), and a dodecagram Altar tile as a general Agalma.
It works for me. My daily prayers take perhaps 10-15 minutes, depending on how many Gods I'm honoring that morning or night, as per my Calendar.

Chris said...

I'm very sure there were instances of people using rocks to form inside altars. I would find it hard to believe that rocks and stones were never used for hearth construction in any form. Of course, you're probably right that most such altars were erected out of doors, but this post is for people who need an affordable option and have no outside space. I myself very much enjoy my altar the way it's built.

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