I’m used to the clean freak Western magic altars. You know, some incense ash is a crime. Just wanted to point out that the Palo altars I have seen, and the ngangas, are not really super clean. I think there is a different attitude in each path.
In Western magic, the altar must be pure and clean. Dirt is a hindrance. It’s ‘bad energy.’
In Palo, the altar is left with it’s various offerings – and dust of incense is allowed, wax is allowed – it’s seen as a sacred thing to leave the altar as it is. Because magic is made there to remember. Dirt isn’t a hindrance.
It doesn’t mean to be a pig. But can you see a High Magician spitting rum on his altar? Nada…I don’t think so.
What is my altar like? It’s a mish mash of different items in no order. Glasses of water (lots), bones, candles (lots), stones/crystals, a cauldron, pentacle, incense, oils, war water, etc.
I think people should brainstorm on what they want their altars to look like and collect items. Freedom of choice. No book or person should tell you how to build your altar. It’s all up to you. Keep the elements in mind, or other correspondences that are important. And if you think you *have* to have something on your altar cos someone told you so, don’t pay attention to it. Now – for ancestor altars, there are different rules.
What is wrong with some ash or wax? If you insist on a very clean altar, don’t put a fancy altar cloth on without at least fitting some plexiglass on the altar table. That’s what I did. Works great. Go to Home Depot and you can get it hand cut, all you need is measurements. Yeah, it’s plastic but it’s protection.
Altars are important to me and I do clean mine. Especially my ancestor altar. I just made an observation.