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Altars and Traditions

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on September 17, 2013 | Comments (0)

In major Western Ceremonial Magick traditions, the altar is described as being a “double cube.” That is, it had two equal-sized cubes on top of each other. So if your altar was to be 36″ tall, each side would be 18″. That’s the way I made my first altar. I painted it completely white (representing the spiritual light) and then decoupaged a large pentagram to the top. On one side I decoupaged a poster of the Tree of Life. I used this for many years before giving it to a temple I had been working with.

My current ceremonial magick altar is also a double cube, however it is painted black. This is to symbolize the concept that our physical universe, where I do magickal work, is spiritually dark when compared to the spiritual planes.

In most Pagan traditions I’ve been involved with the size and shape of the altar isn’t very important. Far more important are the tools you put on the altar. I’ve seen some very small Pagan altars and some enormous ones. I think the biggest altar I ever saw was at St. Peter’s in Rome. Now that’s an impressive altar:47051340

Altar at St. Peters Basilica, Rome

I’ve seen all sorts of altars, but the one that surprised me the most was owned by a friend of mine. The feature that stood out, when I first saw it, was that it had horns in the upper corners. I had never seen an altar like that (this was some time ago), but research led to my discovery that this was the description of the altar used in the Jewish transportable tabernacle during their desert travels. In Exodus 27: 1–2, it reads:

You shall make the altar of acacia wood…
you shall make its horns on its four corners

So it probably looked a bit like this:priest-at-altar-of-incense

 Where Did The Biblical Jews Come From?

If we assume there is some historicity behind the biblical stories, it makes sense to ask, where did the Jews come from? Or more accurately, where did the tribes who came together to become the Jews come from? The answer is right there. They were tribes in the area. Tribal members were each united to other family and people in the tribe by their own beliefs and practices as well as by their myths and stories that probably worked their way into the Bible. So it is from them that the horned altar was probably created, especially if they were a tribe that raised cattle.

Today, we’re learning more and more about these ancient peoples and their beliefs. So if you’re interested in this topic, I’ll like to recommend the book, The Horned Altar by Tess Dawson9780738731575

In this book, Ms. Dawson reveals the secrets of the ancient Canaanite religion. You’ll learn what they believed and how they practiced. You’ll be able to incorporate some of their beliefs into your spiritual path or maybe adopt Canaanite religion as your path. Well researched, I think this is an important addition to our knowledge of the practices and beliefs of our ancestors.

*   *   *

This coming Sunday, September 22, 2013,  at 10:00 p.m. Central Time (8:00 Pacific) I’m going to be interviewed on Pagan Science Radio. You can go to this LINK (it will take you to the blogtalkradio site) and listen in live. We’re going to be talking about a wide range of subjects ranging from Tarot & Magic to hypnosis and NLP. I may even share an introduction to smoking cessation that beings with…explosive cow flatulence! This should be a lot of fun and I hope you can listen in and say hello! Pagan Science Radio



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