One of the things that can go a long way in the spiritual development of children is to help them set up an altar of their own in their room. The altar set-up in Ár nDraíocht Féin is a bit different from most other forms of modern Paganism. We don’t follow an “elements” system, but rather, we venerate the Triple Hallows of Well, Tree, and Fire. ADF is a very family-friendly, child-friendly, budget-friendly tradition. No expensive tools are necessary, nor even desirable. In fact, an ADF altar could be just three bowls and a stick! However, most people (including kids!) want to be more creative than that, and it doesn’t really cost much more to do so, perhaps a little more time and craftiness. Most of these ideas have the option of crafting something, so as to really personalize this sacred space. Any of the ideas listed below could be used for an adult/family altar as well.
- Fire Hallow: glue fire-colored tissue paper all over a re-purposed small jar and put an LED tea light in it. (No actual fire, of course.)
- Well Hallow: use a plastic “cauldron” salsa server. Aside from aesthetically pleasing cauldron shape, they won’t break or rust (and I’m always finding them cheap in thrift stores). You may have one in the kitchen already, or a small bowl you’d like to use instead.
- Tree Hallow: put sticks or branches in a jar or can. (The branch holder in the picture below is a vegetable can with variegated green & brown yarn wrapped around it.) Add pebbles to keep it from tipping over. Another option for the Tree Hallow is to make a paper bag tree or a woven tree.
- Offering Bowl: make a salt dough bowl (for dry offerings only; like cereal and dried fruit), or use an ordinary bowl or plate from the kitchen. Remember to place your offerings outside after your rituals/devotions, so as not to attract pests. (Under a tree is a good place to leave offerings.)
- Deity Images: these can be drawings or coloring pages. In the picture below, you’ll notice the coloring pages are small black & white print-outs colored with crayons and pasted to colored paper. You may want to frame or laminate yours so they’ll last longer, or just fasten them to the wall, as is, with ticky-tack. If you want to try sculpting deity images, salt dough is a very good (and inexpensive) medium for experimentation.
- Ancestor Images: these can be memoirs, or photos/drawings of one’s Ancestors, or Ancestor dolls. Another option could be to make a salt dough skull to represent them. It is optional to have Ancestor imagery here, as the Ancestors may have their own shrine elsewhere in the home, or their regalia only brought out for special holidays.
- Nature Spirit Images: can be represented in a small nature collection. Given how kids love to collect feathers, rocks, seedpods, etc., Nature Spirits imagery may soon threaten to take over the entire altar! It may be a good idea to give the Nature Spirits their own altar/shrine.
- Blessing Cup: this can be any kind of drinking vessel, perhaps a favorite cocoa mug. Sometimes you can find neat plastic goblets at thrift stores or in dollar stores around Halloween. Any kind of juice, mint water, or just plain water are all great choices for a child’s (or anyone’s) “waters of life”.
- Divination Tool: there is a wide variety of divination methods to choose from that may be suitable for children or beginners. The simplest would be those that give just yes or no answers like a magic 8 ball. Simple answers can also be read through certain methods with runes, serpent stones, and dowsing, as well. The Wise Gal Tarot book describes 7 different kinds of divination and has a simple, yet colorful tear-out tarot card set in the back.
- Extras: your child may want a bell (or bell branch), symbols/pictures of the Three Realms of Land Sea, and Sky, and silver-colored beads/coins for ‘silvering the well’ (they need not be real silver)
After you’re all set up, see my article, “A Druid Devotional for Kids” for further inspiration.