I finally made a start on my Yule altar yesterday. Inspiration came from a perhaps unlikely place – a second-hand and vintage market known as Bygone Times, buried in the sleepy village of Eccleston, where I went with my mum and aunt for a leisurely browse. It’s an absolute cornucopia of treasures from vintage clothing, second-hand and retro toys, and housewares…and doesn’t break the bank either.

Shopping second-hand or vintage, now I think about it, fits in pretty well with the Pagan lifestyle. What can be more respecting of nature than re-using, recycling, picking up a thing someone else has discarded and breathing new life into it?

I have a thing about pine cones, so my eyes were immediately drawn to a gold wire basket full of pine cones. Someone had obviously once, quite lovingly, made them into Christmas decorations, as most of them were sprayed gold, silver or white (though now slightly faded) and had wire twisted round them to hang them with. They looked a bit sorry, but I knew they were coming home with me the moment I saw them. The stallholder had placed two brass candle snuffers across the top, and it just looked right as an ensemble, especially considering the rest of my Yule altar will basically be comprised of candles which I will light on solstice night.

I untwisted all the wires, and added a few of my own pine cone collection amassed from years of picking them up at the park and on holidays, leaving some au naturel as a base layer at the bottom, and applying red glitter to a few of them to pick up the coloured theme and add a bit of fresh sparkle. Now I have a beautiful altarpiece. So don’t count out second-hand sales and shops as a source for magical goodies – the more you do it, the more you’ll develop an eye for it. The actual altar with the candles will be arranged on Yule itself, as my altar is on the spare bedroom window – they would melt in the sun before I get to use them otherwise.

~ Copyright Silverla StMichael December 2012 ~