There are two kind of altars. Devotional altars and functional altars.
A devotional altar is a sacred space dedicated entirely to one or many deities. There is usually a figurine or image representing that deity. In it you place the offerings, prayers and stuff for that deity. It can be simple or heavily ornameted. Ornaments can be permanent, or can be changed according to festivities and specific moments during the year.
I don’t have a devotional altar. The only thing that’s worth my devotion is myself, and my body and mind are my devotional altar. I take care of myself.
Then there’s the functional altar: this is the altar in which you do all the rituals and spiritual/energy workings. In it you place your tools. The tools can also represent a plethora of things, like elemental energies or specific concepts. Here’s a photo of my functional altar:
I don’t go about the usual symbolism of the tools:
The athame (ritual dagger) symbolises air, but more importantly, it is a symbol of direction, of attack, of an action that has a specific target to it.
The chalice symbolises water, but also is a symbol of containing, memory, knowledge and wisdom. It’s a recipient that’s constantly learning, and can never be filled. It’s by proxy a symbol of the mind.
The mortar and pestle is a symbol of earth, but more importantly, it’s a symbol of alchemy, of mixing, experimentation, the natural cycle, curiosity.
The candles represent fire, but also light, transformation, energy, rebirth, destruction. To be consumed by fire means rebirth into a new form.
Then there’s the pendulum and the tarot cards. The pendulum is a symbol of duality, of two poles with an infinity of nuances in between.
The stones at the top are a Quartz (symbol of light, of that which is transparent, clear, easy to see), Lapiz Lazuli (it’s a symbol of myself), and Obsidian (symbol of that which is hidden, the truth that has to be throughly searched for in order to be found).
I was asked by someone to email them a brief take on what Satanism is. This person claimed they were part of a Satanist coven.
I just poured my thoughts on no particular order. So here is my answer (that I emailed them):
I would say that I find the notions of Satanism and a coven to be incompatible. Satanism is the way of the individual; the path of self fulfillment and independence. Defining Satanism is futile, as every Satanist is different.
But I guess that most Satanists can agree to certain generalities. Some Satanists are atheist, some are theists. Some of the theists believe in Satan alone, others in a plethora of many Gods and Demons.
Some see Satan as a symbol of individuality, of rebellion, of questioning everything. Some view Satan as a force of nature, the duality and the constant movement that balance is. Some see it as a god, others see it as a guide, or even a friend, an ally.
Satanism is a path in which we refuse to serve anyone else than oursleves. That means being able to fulfill every desire and lust we may have, without become a slave for these desires. Satanists need nothing, but want it all. And because we are trying to become masters of ourselves and our environment, we crave for power. Power that would allow us to be in absolute control of our lives. And all of this is to find true happiness. Satanism is not about Satan, is about us. Satan is the goal, the title we wish to acquire. Someone who can have anything he wants in life but not be dependent on it has become a Satan. A true master of both his surroundings and himself.
Some Satanists, in effort to reach this goal, use the black arts, the occult, etc. But it is not necessary. The path of a Satanist is a path that is walked alone. Friends, family, partners, this people inside the social circle of the Satanist serve many purposes: the psychological need for love, moral support, a network of potentially useful people, etc. Everything can be a tool in the eyes of the Satanist. Money, magic, friends, people, weapons, power…
Satan is there to help us when we need it. I personally don’t worship him, but he has helped me so many times in my path, and I am grateful for that.
Satanism cannot be practiced in groups. You can practice witchcraft with other people, sure. But your relationship with Satan and other demons is completely personal and not to be shared. A so called “Satanic coven” cannot be more than a big oxymoron, in my opinion.
Just a small shout out for anyone who’s interested.
As anyone who follows me will know, I have a strong interest in Satanism, and while I am no longer Pagan I am a polytheist, no doubt among a few other things!
A few months ago I had an interesting discussion with a fellow blogger about possible links between Paganism and Satanism, but the group I was part of at the time largely showed what could euphemistically be called a “lack of interest“, and I have since ceased to identify as Pagan.
Nevertheless, I thought it would be nice to set up a group devoted to those who find themselves in the overlap between Satanism and Paganism, or are interested in that overlap, or find themselves in between the two areas. The group is on facebook as that is an easy and active arena, and you can find it
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The spring equinox marked a fairly important date in my life: it’s been exactly 6 years since I did my Dedication Ritual to my Gods.
Since then my views on life, my ultimate goal, and even my interpretation of what being a satanist means have changed. My practice of witchcraft and the occult have changed. I’m no longer the same person I was 6 years ago. I’m stronger, wiser, more patient. Still lazy though.
Anyway, I feel it is necessary to make a new Pact with Satan and my other main gods once again to establish my current intent and beliefs before them. This could enhance my alliance with Satan further and mark a new episode in my life.
I plan on taking a couple of weeks to meditate about who I am right now and what do I want. I’m also, of course, going to write the Pact itself and make the competent preparations for the ritual. I hope Satan will be present with the same intense energy he made me feel back in 2009. It was not the last time I felt his energy but I haven’t seen Satan like I saw him back when I signed the dedication ritual.
That night, 2009’s spring equinox, when I used my own blood to sign the dedication, I felt his energy surround me. It was so intense I could see the bright electric red mist all around me. Unlike other demos, Satan choses not to have a creature-like manifastation, but instead he shows himself as this powerful red mist of pure energy.
I want to see you again, Satan.
It’s great to find people that try to debunk bullshit and lies. More people should find the sources of the information they’re given instead of just believing anything they’re told like the sheeps they are.
Over on Patheos there’s a wonderful interview with an old friend of mine, Adrian Bott – better known online as Cavalorn. Cavalorn is a children’s author (responsible for, amongst other things, the Dan Hunter line of books), occult historian and the former proprietor of (the late, lamented) New Aeon Books in Manchester who has made a lifelong study of magic and paganism. He also writes and consults for tabletop and computer games and has appeared in a Channel 4 documentary about Rasputin, amongst other things.
Anyone who’s known Cavalorn for more than a year will know about his yearly rants on the subject of Eostre, debunking much of the commonly-held and incorrect beliefs about the Spring Equinox and how it relates (i.e. doesn’t) to Easter, particularly the commonly-held belief beloved of so many neo-pagans that Christians “stole” Easter. There is no definitive historical evidence that a goddess named Eostre…
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I really plan on seriously coming back to this blog, making it alive again. So I decided to start somewhat anew and delete the old, uninteresting posts. I’ve gone through a lot this pay few months but I haven’t had the need to call otherworldly forces for assistance. I’ve decided to endure this period of hardships alone. But since it seems to be coming to an end, I’m coming slowly to a more ritualistic practice and I also want to submerge more in various occult practises and practical magic generally. For that I’m planning on buying some of the books listed in Venus Satanas‘ site’s bibliography.
If you have any books in practical magic you would recommend, don’t hesitate to leave a comment!
P.S.: Here’s a photo of my altar’s latest configuration.