Spirituality at Home: Shrines & Altars

The word “Pagan” is an umbrella term for a large collection of different belief systems. Those belief systems span an incredible variety in terms of form: some of us worship gods, some focus on ancestors, some are more animistic or pantheistic, and some of us aren’t particularly theistic at all. The decentralized nature of Pagan belief means that shared community worship spaces are a rarity within our culture – we generally do not have the Pagan equivalent of synagogues or mosques. When Pagans gather to celebrate holidays or share worship time, it is most frequently in temporary spaces like state parks, the yard or living room of a Pagan household, or rented conference rooms.

The combination of decentralization and variety of practice means that the religious space most Pagans interact with the most frequently is their home altar or shrine. A shrine is a place determined to be holy due to its associations with a revered focus. It often contains a religious statue or other object specific to the faith path the shrine supports. Shrines can take many forms. Altars, on the other hand, are tables or other flat-topped surfaces that are used for religious services like making sacrifices or offerings to a deity. Both structures are common to Pagan households. Continue reading…

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