My Altar- Buy One or Make One

I’ve decided I want an altar in my room. I doubt that I will actually pray at it. I might pray that it doesn’t fall apart because I’ve decided to make it myself. I checked online for alters and they ranged in price from $30.00 to $48,500.00. The expensive one wouldn’t have fit in my room anyway. It was a real one from a church. It was beautiful though. It was on E-Bay.


The cheap one was made out of cardboard. That’s when I decided I could make it myself, that and the squirrel. I happened to notice the squirrel sitting on one of the stumps that are still in the front yard from when the big tree was cut down at the beginning of December (3 months ago, still sitting there, do they expect me to move them? Duh!!).

I was staring at the stumps and it occurred to me that if I sliced one of the smaller stumps into 3 or 4 inch slices and then cut them crosswise at different places, I could place them on top of each other in a step like fashion. Also I get to save a little bit of my tree that I miss.


I could then polyurethane them so they wouldn’t rot and I would have my altar. I could put my Buddhas on it, some Saint candles, crystals, and various other objects that have been given to me that have meaning. I am of no particular religion. I just take a little bit of each, Buddhism, Catholicism (I was brought up as a Catholic), Wiccan (only because I want to cast spells except I really don’t believe that anyone can cast spells).

I just looked up religions on Wikipedia. I truly didn’t know there were so many.

180px-urarina_shaman_b_dean.jpgI like his hat. He is a Shamen.

Back to my altar. So I told Barry I needed him and a chain saw and he said “At the same time?”. Then I told him that I wanted him to help me build an altar and he just walked out of the room laughing. Nothing I do surprises my daughter or my son. They just say things like “Good idea, Ma”.

Well, if anyone has any ideas for my altar, let me know. I am open to suggestions.

I don’t want it to be too big because my room is filled with enough stuff already, wicked cool stuff, but a lot of it.


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lucky
    Mar 09, 2008 @ 13:04:26

    I am the same as you…raised Catholic but take a little away from each one. I don’t fit into one religion. I think an altar is a GREAT idea but have no words of advice. Although I do think making one will make it much more special. Whatever you decide to do – it will be wicked cool. 🙂 (I love “wicked” cool! I never hear it around here!)

    I use that word “wicked” all the time. Wicked cool, wicked easy, wicked hard,–It goes way back to when I was a kid.


  2. CuriousC
    Mar 10, 2008 @ 08:26:50

    LOL at Barry’s comment, “At the same time?” too funny!


    Barry is way too funny. He has the best sense of humor, thank goodness. He brings a lightness to the house. The kids are way too serious. And I have a wicked sense of humor which Barry totally gets, probably because we’ve known each other for 40 years. I know I already probably said this on someone’s blog. But my daughter’s husband came upstairs when Barry and I were hysterically laughing about some silly thing and Obie went back downstairs and told my daughter he thought we were on acid or something. They think we are both nuts. Oh well, in the situation we are in, they are the parents and we are the kids.


  3. David
    Mar 10, 2008 @ 10:51:26

    You know, when you showed us all the pictures of your Sanctuary, the whole time I was wondering, where fuck’s the altar? OOPS. Sorry. I mean, where the HECK is the altar?! Actually I thought the dragon table looked rather altar-like. Or at least a good spot to sacrifice a pigeon.

    Anyhoo, just tryin to be funny! This post was great Joan! Lawled at “cardboard altar”!! And Barry’s reaction!! Haaaa!

    I have to say that his reaction is actually pretty appropriate. What if you’d said I want to build an ark? But I like your idea of a druidic altar of logs. If you’re imagining chainsawing you must already have some shape in mind huh?

    But on to more practical considerations. Those logs are waiting to become firewood, right? You know they are rather heavy, and a pile of altar height would weigh about what a fridge does. Plus, you gotta get all the bark off and make sure there are no bugs living inside them, or fungus that will rot the rest of the wood if not stopped … They DO have some nice shapes though. We have this little kid chair made from a white ash log like 25 years ago. It split 5 or so years ago, but we still use it as a plant stand.

    I also am allergic to religion. I beak out in goosebumps and start laughing demonically! Bwwahhh hhaaa hhhaaaa! But I am not an atheist.

    You should bid like 5 bux for the $48,000 unit on ebay!


  4. David
    Mar 10, 2008 @ 11:22:04

    Break out, that is … although “beaking out” does have a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?


  5. joanharvest
    Mar 10, 2008 @ 16:27:49

    I’m the same as you, a definite allergy to organized religion but I am , I guess you could say, spiritual. This altar I’m planning is going to be small so it can fit on my bureau in front of my window. Maybe 18 -24 inches in diameter with three tiers. The rest of the wood will be firewood if someone will get their ass out there and cut it up.

    I think I “beak out” quite often. I’m not sure what “beaking out” might mean but I am sure I do it. It sounds like something I would do.

    I agree I will put a $5.00 bid on the expensive one. Watch me win and I’ll have to pay thousands in shipping costs and then have no place to put it.

    Also, do you think I can just polyurethane over the bark and embalm the bugs inside? The bark is so pretty.

    To be honest with you, when Barry was younger he wanted to build a mini golf course in the backyard. I finally talked him out of it.


  6. David
    Mar 10, 2008 @ 21:57:57

    Jeez, I don’t know about urethaning over the bark. If you’re going to try that then I would recommend bringing in the selected trunk segment soon and allowing it to thoroughly dry out. This might take months depending on whether the tree was dead when it was cut down. From the photograph, it doesn’t look like it was dead when it was felled. That darker wood at the center is typical of maple, but can also be from disease or infestation. It just needs to be thoroughly dried out before you try to seal it up with urethane, otherwise it’s going to be trouble. I guess I would do whatever chainsawing or cutting first, then bring it in to “season” for a year or so, then see about the clear coating. The bark will probably fall off, in any event. But maybe there are some kinds of preservatives available. Contact your local wood artist. No really, the guy that makes the bowls out of maple burls, or some other wood craftsperson might know some special way of preserving the log bark and all. Up here in New Hampshire I’d just take the splitting maul to it and stack it in the woodpile for next winter.

    Good work talking Barry out of the mini golf course. I’ll choose to think that you helped him to realize what little profit would be realized from such an endeavor.


  7. romi41
    Mar 11, 2008 @ 00:01:30

    I think an altar is a fantastic idea, and I think it’s cool that you are open to different religions. As for me, aside from the religion that was prescribed to me at birth, I am really of no religion, but I do prescribe to the teachings of Venus the Goddess of love and her son Eros, because worship towards them should bring me inner peace (and of course a man. .LOL 🙂 …)…let us know how the altar-building goes, becuase if it works out for you, I might have to follow suit 😉


  8. joanharvest
    Mar 11, 2008 @ 00:33:03

    I think you are right about drying out the wood for a year. The tree was alive when it was cut down but the roots were massively dug into when we had to get a new septic system. When I owned my business I bought these beautiful journals with wooden covers and backs and the young man who made them seasoned all his wood for at least a year. And I just saw something in the local newspaper about a guy making bowls out of some famous person’s tree that had to be cut down. I can’t remember whose tree. But I can look in the archives of the paper for the article. Your full of good ideas tonight, Thanks


    I found the perfect candle for you.
    They have other great candles too but I thought this one fit you perfectly.

    I’m really not of any religion either. The only reason Catholicism enters the picture is because I like those Mexican candles that Wendy has and I was brought up as a Catholic.

    Anyway, check out my Flickr site and see the candle I think you should be using.


  9. romi41
    Mar 13, 2008 @ 22:22:06

    So I clicked on it Joan, and oohhhh, I LOVE that candle! You know just what I need, and I love this line in the description:

    “I ask you for your assistance in attaining true love”

    Thanks for thinking of me 🙂


  10. Wendy
    Mar 14, 2008 @ 00:38:32

    I love the altar idea, I love it. I used to want to go to this certain old hotel in New Orleans where you could order some sort of “gris-gris” Voodoo altar that would be made especially for you. It was expensive, like $200-$300, but I figured it would be a really good one and you could take it home.

    You know, they sell those Mexican Santo candles here at the supermarket for $1.29. If you want me to send you some, just say the word. (I made you a Saint Applencia candle — it came out great — but I couldn’t fit it in the box the last time I mailed Barbara a package. I’m still planning to send it.)


  11. joanharvest
    Mar 14, 2008 @ 08:47:42


    I love those Mexican candles. I’ll pay for the candles and the shipping because it’s probably expensive if you wouldn’t mind sending me a few. I ordered the St. Michael, the archangel one from E-bay and the shipping was way more than the candle.

    I can’t wait to see the St. Applencia candle. Our own Saint on my own alter. Now I just have to actually get Barry and the chain saw together at the same time.

    Oh, Barbara loved her “Life with Buck” coaster that I got her for her birthday.

    I’m glad you’re feeling better. We all missed you.


  12. joanharvest
    Mar 14, 2008 @ 08:50:40

    @ romi

    I think you really need to get that candle. You could carry it around the supermarket, lit of course. The candle not you. Men would come and bow down to you, either because they think you’re crazy or because they are drawn to your charms.


  13. Wendy
    Mar 14, 2008 @ 12:33:10

    I sent you an email. I’ll box up some Mexican saint candles for you this weekend.


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