Altering My Altar

I’m not that happy yet with my altar… I won’t include a photo here with this discussion, because this altar is really a temporary set-up; we’re moving in two months, so it’s going to change then anyway. This is just a preliminary consideration of why I’m not satisfied with it yet.

It’s odd. I like all the individual components of my altar, but they just don’t mesh very well. I have a pretty bowl for a well (brown with shiny turquoise inside); three little white votive candles in nice, clear holders; a pillar candle on a blue willow ware saucer for the fire; and two branches in a glass etched with a dragon for the tree. I chose the branches very carefully, and they’re standing up in polished rocks. My mother gave me the dragon glass. For Christmas, my fiance got me a tiny little “in vitro” cactus in a vial so that I could have something alive on my altar, and that’s hanging on one of the “tree” branches. Today I added a soapstone incense burner engraved with leaves.

No patron representations yet, and I haven’t unpacked my photos for the ancestor component. I don’t have a dedicated offering bowl, so I add a little ceramic cup when needed. The funny thing is, I don’t know where I’d keep an offering bowl or any representations because the altar is so cluttered already. Hopefully in the new apartment I’ll be able to add some little shelves above the table to keep representations.

Underneath the altar, I store the notebook where I write down rituals, a box with extra candles and incense, and a green glass bottle I use for storing water from the river near my apartment.

Anyway, it’s a chaotic mishmash on a tiny little table, and it just doesn’t satisfy that part of my soul that craves beauty in my place of worship. I need a little altar feng shui. ┬áHas anyone else experienced this sort of dissatisfaction when building an altar? If so, how did you correct it?