Hey guys!  I have an informal question to ask, simply out of curiosity.  Do you use an Altar Pentacle?  If not, why?  When I first began this Path twenty-one years ago, the Altar Pentacle was considered an essential tool; hence, in those early years of the internet, it was much more common than it is now to see a photograph of an Altar with an Altar Pentacle since, as Doreen Valiente and the Farrars explained it, the Altar Pentacle serves to control and focus the energies and forces that have been raised or conjured!  Indeed, even when one attended a ritual the Altar Pentacle was considered an essential tool.

To me, as a part of my own traditions, it is the first "altar tool" that one should acquire since it is the principal tool upon which most blessings, consecrations, and even spells may be performed.  It also serves as a "plate" upon which the Sabbat Cakes are served to one's Coven or placed for blessings before being offered to the gods.  Yet, it has become increasingly rare to see Altars that depict a proper Altar Pentacle!  I wonder if this may be due to the dilution of the Craft by so-called "Neo-Wicca" (and I say this as a non-Wiccan), whose adherents unfortunately proclaim, "Wicca is, like, whatever I want it to be!"

Also, I must admit what a shame it is that there are so few options to us in terms of proper metal Altar Pentacles, considering how many brilliant Pagan artisans there are.  The only two that, in my not-so-hummble-opinion, are in any way attractive is the pewter Tree of Life Altar Pentacle produced by Dryad Designs (I wish they would produce a few more designs!), and the uber-simple punched brass Altar Pentacle that is sold by Azure Green.  My own is, of course, the more simple variety, which has served me well over the past two decades.  :)

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Im still relatively new to the craft but I have made a needlework pentacle to go on my alter as I feel that something I have made with my own hands and put my own energy and time into will help the flow of energy in the spells i do.

I'm interested to note that you talk about metal pentacals, when from what I have read so far in my studies usually say that "living" materials like wood and wool are better at working with your own energy than metal and minerals.  Do you believe that the metal can work better for you as it is an electrical conductor or for other reasons?

Well, with all due respect, sources that say "living materials" is probably not a traditional source. ;) It is with rare exception that I recommend any books printed after 1990 or 1991! The vast majority of books printed after that date is utter drug! In fact, several authors are actually exploitative of their readers, choosing instead to keep them disempowered and reliant upon them, rather than empowering their readers to do for himself or herself. I have been saying, recently, that if I were stranded on a deserted island and there were only a handful of books that I could bring along, they would be:

* Power of the Witch, by Laurie Cabot: This text is a game-changer within Craft literature! Her chapter, "The Science of Witchcraft" is worth the cost of the text alone. This book actually made such an impact to me after I read it that I bought a mint-condition hardback copy!
* Wicca: The Old Religion in the Modern Age, by Vivianne Crowley: An excellent companion book to "Power of the Witch".
* The Elements of Ritual, by Deborah Lipp: Rather than being another "how-to", this book explains why a Circle is cast in the way it is, and it reveals many procedures for casting a Circle that is missing from most books that are out there. It goes into extraordinary detail and is highly recommended! I wish it had been written YEARS ago back when I was new to the Craft.
* The Witches Way, by Janet and Stewart Farrar: An invaluable resource; try and get the hardcover book if you can!
* Eight Sabbats for Witches, by Janet and Stewart Farrar: Laurie Cabot's book, "Celebrate the Earth" is a fabulous companion book to this title. Unlike the farers, Laurie does not revolve her rituals around Ritual Dramas.

These are the first books that I would recommend to anyone who is new to the Craft.

thanks for the recommendations!

Personally, because I'm eclectic I don't use the altar pentacle all the time. 1) because my altar is too small to accommodate the pentacle I have, 2) as an eclectic I don't see it as essential as traditionalists do. I DO understand the concepts behind the tools traditionalists use...just personally I dont see it as important in MY workings. 

For chargings, consecrations, blessings, focusing, etc, I generally use my hands, because I like to work hands-on.

I don't use one at all, because altar pentacles aren't a traditional part of the Hellenic polytheism that I practice.

Ditto. I used to though, when I was more Wicca oriented.  But it was silver.

I have an altar pentacle that is present any time I work. I use such tool to help me focus my energies. I have a small two inch soapstone one as it was one of the few I could find but I absolutely adore it and it works well for me. :-)

I have been thinking about developing a special incense to consecrate a new Altar Pentacle that I am buying, since my former pentacle was stollen after a Public Ritual that I held at my home.  I just can't believe that someone would do that!  Anyway, I am thinking of combining frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood (maybe the EO instead?), solomon seal root, and some bayberry EO (it's associated with the Element of Earth, Yule, and wax, since early pentacles were once made from wax!).  But, I'm always open to suggestions.

that pentacle is only going to bring them bad ju ju in my opinion if it was stolen...

Try sandlewood and Sage with a touch of rose. Hope that helps you darling!

Hmmmm....I hadn't thought of sage.  (Presumably you mean White Sage?)  When I design a ritual incense or an anointing oil I try and go back and ask myself what I want to accomplish, as well as the duty of the tool (in this case a Pentacle, which commands, compels, focuses, and banishes spectral and magical energies and forces).  Sandalwood, along with frankincense and myrrh, are my "standard ingredients".  Sandalwood, particularly, overcomes obstacles since it is dedicated to Ganesh.  Oops!  I forgot benzoin resin (another standard of mine!), which has been used since antiquity to vanquish ghosts and spirits (also the duty of a pentacle).  Solomon Seal root was identified with the occult ring of the legendary king who, it was said, used it to compel a spectral army to construct his temple, IIRC.

I seldom use an altar, but, when I do, I rarely use a pentacle. There are other symbols that are more important to me, not to mention my own created sigils.

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