Just a quick question. I was taught that alter direction is very important. I’ve always had mine facing West for various reasons, and it’s always worked fine for me. Now, due to uncontrollable circumstances, the only place I have available has my alter facing South. Will this really make a difference, and if so, can I counteract it somehow? I thank you in advance for your advice
This can be approached a couple of ways really, but I’m going to say first say that my Ancestor altar with space for Brighid faces West which is the element of water & I have always been very connected to water, even before the others. My main altar which has space for the Morrigan faces South the element of Fire Both have worked fine for me in their placements.
If your following the correspondences of the directions & that’s why you had previously had it facing West, then you may want to find out the correspondences for South & see how they align with your practice.
South would correspond with the element of fire, which is why my main altar is there. I have always been connected to fire in some way.
North is the element of Earth , East is the element of air , West is the element of water , & South is the element of fire
Others that follow Wiccan tradition would say North for the element of Earth
However, where you are able to have one is perfectly fine as many don’t consider direction to be or have an effect of their workings at the altar or altars.
@Siofra_Strega already gave some great explanations. I personally don’t stress about the directions. I think intent is powerful, but so is intuition. If you have to use South, see how it feels, but also (if you can) try not to focus on the worry about it being ‘wrong’. Just see how it works out. You could always set up a portable altar to position it the way that works best for your intuition.
What’s funny is until tonight when I was answering the question, I hadn’t realized exactly which direction my altar was facing I had done what @Melora_Fae had said & based both of them off intuition at first. It just so happens that they both correspond to directions that correspond heavily with my practice!
Both worked for me before I knew that though. I had to use a compass in my space to figure out where my ancestor altar was facing The main altar I knew corresponded with Fire when I originally set it up but I also haven’t worked with directions & elements correspondences until recently when I decided I wanted to be more connected to the elements. So it stayed there once I started working with the element of fire… but my ancestor altar I had no idea about it until today & then it just made sense why it was so comforting to me for it to be where it is now. I wouldn’t change it because it feels good to me. I also represent each element on each altar in some way & work with each of them on both altars.
Also @Oshenlynx there really isn’t wrong… what really matters is how it feels to you & when I originally set up both altars it was where I had space & when I put the items on them… it was what felt right for each one.
For instance, I have seen in places about Ancestor altars, not to put them by your bedside for varying reasons. However, I have never had any issues with it being there & it’s actually really comforting to me to have it where it is… I don’t really have anywhere else to put it but also, that’s the first place I thought of when I wanted to set it up after my dog passed away. It honestly just felt like the perfect place for it.
It all comes down to what feels right to you & if you follow correspondences then those would be the ones that correlate to each direction.
I had to use my phone’s compass just now to see what direction mine is facing lol! It’s not really a working altar as much as a shrine, but it has a lot of aquatic things on it (aquatic terrariums) and those have thrived. The shrine itself faces East ish, but I face West when looking at it.
I’m in one of those conditions where I don’t have room for a shrine or altar. I hope to get a box for a portable altar. My shrine sits on the corner of the kitchen counter between the kitchen and family room. It works, it’s kind of a focal point.
I do most of my work outside, facing North, or my stove top, which faces West. I don’t think about it too much, I just work with what I can. Though if I get more of a portable altar and do more work outside, I’ll probably focus on north just so I can align myself with the directions, like looking down at a map.
It’s interesting to think about! I for sure think our intent is the most important though.
@Melora_Fae now when I got out back to work at the fire pit I’m going to have my compass out to see what direction I’m facing
I honestly had never thought of the directions before I looked up their correspondences, then looked at each altar & was like… well… I can connect to each direction & its elements which were completely out of what felt right to me when I put them together. I have each of the elements represented on each one… some more than others really.
Now I’m going to be looking at them & thinking about all kinds of things… I had never even considered which way I face when using them So now I’m going to be figuring that out too
For me, I never really thought about the direction as much as the intention. It’s intended to show reverence to the Goddess, in my case the Lady Selene. I don’t think I’ve worried about the direction as I have a small apartment and, as such, as small bedroom (where my altar is). Works for me.
I’m just popping in to say I agree with everything that’s already been said Unless you’re following a specific tradition with very specific rules, the direction your altar faces only matters to you.
And even now trying to think about which direction my altar faces, I’m trying to figure out which side of the altar is the front and back So when I stand at my altar, I face South. The mirrors on my altar face North. So…whichever direction matters I guess My altar will face whichever direction I put it in because I have limited space. I can’t rearrange my whole area just to make it fit and face a specific direction.
I also do workings in my kitchen, outside, in my office area. I mini altars everywhere, though you wouldn’t think they were altars if you looked at them. The point of that is to say if you have no other option but for your altar to face South then I don’t think it matters unless it matters to you.
Oh yeah, I do a lot in the kitchen too & forgot all about that plus I use diffusers in my living room & kitchen… then 2 altars in my space & I use my backyard… it includes my back porch, fire pit, the trees I meditate by, my garden… a little bit of everywhere too
I determine the direction of my altar as what direction I am facing when sitting/standing at the altar. I live in an RV full-time so I have to make due with my space and the direction of the lot pad. When my altar was in my bedroom, it faced east. I recently moved it into my kitchen/living room and it now faces just off west. My deities altar faces the same direction, while my ancestor altar is on a wall and is just off south. As others have mentioned, I also do a lot of kitchen magick and my main counter faces just off south (same direction as my ancestor altar).
I only know this as I used a compass to just now figure it out. I don’t really pay attention to direction beyond putting the elemental representatives/candles in the right position the few times I cast a full circle.
@Amaris_Bane living in an RV full time - this is a fascinating thing I’ve learned about you and I love it! I know my partner and my teenage daughter would never be up for living that life, but I could imagine myself living in an RV, the simple but mobile lifestyle is so appealing to me. I imagine it takes a lot of courage to ignore the cultural noise and choose a simpler way. I’d love to hear more!
We have talked about it when the kids have moved through their lives & gotten to where they need to be, but have also concluded that for me it would be really challenging due to my medical/mental health needs… we have even put plans to move further south, which would totally be better for my body physically through the winters on hold because of my care teams. I don’t want to have to go through the search for the perfect fit again… it took years to find the ones that I have currently & I can’t imagine starting over somewhere. So we will revisit that some other time in the future.
I agree with you @jill8 it is very fascinating & appealing. I definitely enjoy when she shares information, ideas, stories about how she & her partner do it & different things throughout their days.
@Siofra_Strega and @jill8, I love it! We have been full-time since summer of 2007 and I wouldn’t change it. Only thing I miss is having enough space to save all the animals, lol.
The biggest hurdles were (1) paring down our stuff and (2) my shopping addiction! I have sense learned that if something comes in, something has to go out.
Organization is key. Over the door hooks to hang jackets, robes, towels, etc. Storage boxes that fit under the bed to house out-of-season clothes/decoration, sentimental items, etc. Having to relearn how to fold items to get them to fit in the smaller drawers and cabinets. My hubby just shoves things in lol.
We have the added bonus of we both work from home now as consultants. Our living room now has two desks. Keeping them tidy is always a chore since they are visible if anyone comes inside.
We have cats and dogs so finding ways to keep the dogs from eating cat “treats” while still keeping the boxes accessible so the cats won’t stop using them is fun.
The thing I love most though is that we focus on memories than stuff. Instead of buying gifts, we go on trips, etc.
@Oshenlynx i was always taught an altar was supposed to face north, so my main one does face north, but i have two others that face west.
Honestly now in my practice, yrs later, i believe along with everything else it is up to you what to do with all of your things. Your tools, crystals, altars, spells, etc. YOU are your magik, and your items get their power from you. So its your choice. Do as you will. But thats just my opinion.
As for my main altar, it will be moved once my husband redoes my floors, where it is is the only place for it at this time. Im going to have him move it closer to my window at the south.
Merry Meet!! Thank you all for your wonderful answers! I was raised and was taught in the strict Gardnerian tradition, and I still find it hard to break out of that mold. I have absolutely nothing against it, just as I grew older and found my own path, I’m finding some of the teachings a bit too rigid for me . Again, thank you all for your insights