Magickal Goody of the Day
Making your own altar tools helps to imbue them with your personal power. Try these methods to make your own altar pentacle.
A pentacle is one of the many common tools one might find on a Witch’s altar. It is named for the pentagram, the five-pointed star, which is a common inscription found on pentacles. It is a flat, usually disc-shaped object that you lay upon the altar to represent the sacred element of earth, or used in ritual to place items for consecration and empowering. They can also be hung on the wall as a symbol of protection. Pentacles are among the altar tools that are easiest to make for oneself.
In order to make a pentacle, you will want to obtain a flat object. Ideally, it should be at least 6″ in width so that it is large enough to hold things on your altar during ritual. There are a number of materials that will suffice when you are making a pentagram.
The benefit of using wood is that it is hard to break, yet easy to decorate. Go to a craft store and obtain a flat piece of wood right from the shelf. Round is the most common shape used, however there is no reason you cannot use a square, rectangle, or any other shape you are comfortable with. A slice of a tree trunk can also make a nice pentacle. These are most easily found around Christmas time at stands that sell trees. A slice from the bottom of the trunk is freshly cut for the customer when they purchase a tree, then usually left behind and discarded. Ask the salesperson if you can have one. You’ll probably be able to walk away with several for free.
Plaster is also an easy medium to work with. Mix the plaster as directed on the package and pour it into a mold. Clean, empty plastic food containers, such as those that contain whipped creams or margarine, make great molds. They are nice and round, make unmolding easy, and can be disposed of when done. Make sure when you finish pouring the plaster into the mold you pick it up and tap the container several times on the counter. This will even out the top and remove the majority of the air bubbles. Allow the plaster to dry, release it from the mold, and leave it in the air to fully set. If the top is uneven or contains small holes from air bubbles, simply sand it down with sand paper.
Another option is clay. Be sure to get a type of clay that can be dried and hardened without becoming brittle or crumbly. Simply roll out the clay on a cookie sheet with a rolling pin until it is approximately ½” to 3/4″ thick. It is very important to get the thickness correct and even. If it is too thick, it may not dry properly. If it is not thick enough or uneven, it may be very fragile and prone to chipping. When you have rolled it to the appropriate thickness and it is smooth, use a cake pan or a bowl as a makeshift cookie cutter. Remove the excess clay around the disk, but leave the disk where it is so that you don’t warp it or make fingerprints on it. You can press shapes into the clay or set small stones or shells in it before the drying process, or you can decorate it when it is dry as you would plaster or wood.
Plaster and clay can make lovely pentacles, but the downfall is that they will be a great deal more fragile than wood. However, if you don’t worry that someone living with you will touch or move your tools around, and if you don’t expect to travel around with your pentacle, you should not be discouraged from using these materials.
A final option is to find a nice, flat stone or crystal to utilize as a pentacle. I’ve seen a nice pentacle made out of a slab of tiger eye, and one made from a slice of amethyst geode. The vibrations that come from crystals and stones are wonderfully powerful. They can’t be carved, but symbols can be painted upon them if you wish (though many people prefer to leave them natural).
Once you have your pentacle disk, you will want to decide what you are going to put on it. Though a pentagram is common and a powerful symbol, it is not necessary to use that particular symbol. You can choose any rune or symbol you feel is appropriate. Celtic knots, Germanic runes, or any personal inscriptions you wish to add will serve you well. The important thing is that your choice should be a symbol of power and hold meaning for you whenever you look at it.
Draw the symbol or design you wish to use on paper, or obtain a photocopy of it if getting it out of a book. A good way to transfer the design to the pentacle is to use carbon paper. Simply place the carbon paper over your disk, carbon-side down, place the picture of your design over it and trace it with a pencil. When you remove the paper, you will have a nice outline of your symbol that you can either paint, carve, or burn on with a wood burning tool.
You may also wish to affix small stones, crystals or sea shells around the edges of the pentacle for a finished look. A hot glue gun is the best way to do this.
Once you have decorated your pentacle, especially if you have painted it, a clear acrylic spray will seal in the design and protect its surface from scratching and peeling. These sprays can be found at most stores that sell arts and crafts. Follow the directions on the can, making sure you cover the area with newspapers and use the spray in a well-ventilated place. Set it aside until dry.
Your pentacle will then be ready for cleansing and consecration, already empowered by the work and care that you put into it.
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