One of the first things people rush to when discovering and beginning to follow a Pagan path is altars. They see pretty pictures on the internet and rush to assemble one. My advice? Wait.
As humans we are very attracted to the aesthetic of pretty things. Of course we are! Everyone wants things around them to be their idea of beautiful. Altars should be an exception.
When I get students who want to learn from me, the first thing I tell them is “If you have an altar, strip it.” When I was first seeking a teacher I was sooooo mad when I was told to do this. How dare they! There’s a reason, kids.
Removing everything that you’ve accumulated lets you go back to fundamentals. For those who’ve not yet discovered fundamentals it gives you a chance to really work on things first – before diving into the pool during adult swim. Please be respectful that this is a religion. You don’t just show up to a church and shout “I’m Catholic! Give me a shot of wine and a cracker!” It’s now how this works. It’s not how any of this works.
While there are many beginner books I adore, I sort of hate the whole self-initiation thing. I think in most cases people read a website, see a video, or read a few chapters of a book and go “Yep I’m 100% witch now.” or “I read most of that book … and I’m 200% Wiccan!” Please. Please?
Take some time to learn something from someone else. Even if all you learn is how to make some incense and a good bread recipe. Don’t assume you know everything and I think it’s a good idea to refrain from assembling an altar right out of the chute.
Here’s what’s most likely to happen. You dabble. You’re sort of into it so you buy stuff for aesthetics. No shame! We’ve all done it! You spend all this money on stuff for it to sit in part of a room that you don’t really touch. Now it is a source of contempt. All that money wasted on something that is meaningless to you. Just avoid that whole cycle!
I am not an authority to tell anyone how they should do things – but I have seen this cycle again and again. My position is to inform from the standpoint of experience only. Take that as you will!