setting up an altar on a budget

A question I saw today has brought this topic to my mind…how does one who has very little in the way of excess desposable income set up a worthwhile altar or shrine? At first I thought perhaps my post on simplicity had said enough, but with more thought I realized that I really didn’t address on how to do much with very little. So I figured I would give it a go.

1. Love your local thrift stores. You can get ahold of some great finds at local thrift stores. Anything from small decorative pitchers to pour libations from (which are actually pretty common to find) to less common images of gods (for instance on my last foray a couple of years ago I ended up going home with a bottle in the shape of an ancient greek maiden that I use to represent Leto, and two plaques of Hellenic personifications of the seasons…one representing summer and the other representing winter. So enjoy an occassional stop to a thrift store or even neighborhood garage sales.

2. Statuary is not a necessity. You can get along rather well with just some carefully selected printed images. You can even frame said pictures really cheap by purchasing small frames from the dollar store. Pictures can be effective either in color of black and white depending on your preferences. These can eventually be replaced, very gradually, with statuary over the course of time as you find yourself in a position to make such purchases.

3. Speaking of dollar stores, these are another good resource. Candles can be bought very cheaply from dollar stores, and while they probably aren’t the best quality they will get the job done. Other items such an inexpensive incense sticks can also be purchased from the dollar store. That said, if you have flowers readily available, it is just as useful to gather up a bouquet of fresh flowers to offer their natural perfume to the gods rather than use incense sticks/cones.

4. A simple bowl can be used for libations, it can even be a small bowl from your kitchen. If you want something which can evaporate the contents in place of the more historic practice of giving offerings into a flame, at walmart or any craft store you can purchase a small ceramic oil burner for relatively litte money. I believe mine was around 6 dollars. This evaporates libations of water, oil and wine without a problem and very little residual mess in the case the wine.

5. Anything can be used to make your altar meaningful to you just by looking at what is readily available to you. If you like altar cloths (which I don’t particularly care for myself and so I typically bypass this concern), just about any large enough surface of fabric can be turned into such…large square scarves, linens etc. And adornments are typically things that we find that hold some special meaning to us in our personal lives that we may like to add. Very rarely does one have to hunt extensively outside of what one already has available, or what is readily available in one’s own back yard in order to get started.

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4 thoughts on “setting up an altar on a budget

  1. I do all these, and I’m very happy with my altars. So yep, no need for expensive tools or decorations. And since I’m sort of between houses now and so have altars at both my homes, I have also had to make some adjustments both to avoid more expenses and so I wouldn’t have duplicates and run out of space. I do have some inexpensive statues on my altar where I live most of the time, but I didn’t want to transport them. Luckily, I bought the Thoth Tarot quite awhile ago and then found out I hate using it, but there are several cards in there that make good deity representations, so I went through it and picked out every card that reminded me of a god, element, or anything I might want to use on my altar. Because of that, I actually have more gods represented at this altar than my primary one! (Which is good, really, because this is the one where I’ll be moving and therefore is more permanent.)

    • I have done this myself in some form or another. I am gradually putting in inexpensive statuary as I can afford to do so, but that is my only real splurge. Most everything I use has been either given to me or I have found for very low cost. It may not be fancy but then it doesn’t have to be either. That said I do understand what it is like to be starting out and wanting everything *perfect* and erroneously thinking that you need all of these high cost things before you can start.

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