First off, The Witch’s Altar: The Craft, Lore & Magick of Sacred Space is a dream collaboration. The two main witch authors, Jason Mankey and Laura Tempest Zakroff, are two completely different types of witches. Mankey is a Gardnerian and Tempest is a Modern Traditional Witch. However, they’re two witches that I highly respect and enjoy reading, whether it’s their blog articles on Patheos Pagan or their books. What is great about this collaboration is that for how different their practices and beliefs are, they’re able to find more common ground between them than differences; and both provide great perspectives on altars, their creation, and their uses while being inclusively open to various paths and approaches. It’s interesting to see how they blend their strengths as writers together in this book. For example, Mankey goes into the history of altars and why things are done in certain ways, and Tempest breaks down the types of altars and provides deep reflective questions and meditations. Both offer wonderful rituals and spells throughout the book, with hints of the snarky humor they share sprinkled throughout.
Both writers have a writing style that feels like they’re talking to you and excited to share and teach with the reader instead of coming off as trying to impress the reader. The book is full of small contributions by other magickians, pagans, and witches, that makes the perspectives and insights even broader than Mankey and Tempest themselves. The Witch’s Altar is basic enough for any beginner, seeker, or dabbler without being condescending or patronizing – and insightful and full of creative approaches for any seasoned magickal practitioner.
The book is sure to give any witch of any background some new ideas, inspiration, as well as practices for their own altars. I particularly appreciated their focus on talking about daily devotional practices – which I feel are the foundation for a strong magickal practice, but often overlooked these days in books on witchcraft. They also have a fantastic troubleshooting section wherein they both provide answers to questions such as, “How do you cat-proof an altar, or protect one that isn’t cat-proof ?”, “How do I stop or prevent other people from messing with my altar?”, “If things get damaged (by accident or through malice), what should be done with the broken items and how do I make amends to the gods?”, “What’s the best way to clean up spilled wax and wine?”, “Is it possible to have too many deities on my altar?”, “I think my deities don’t like each other. What should I do?” and many more.
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