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I sometimes imagine an alternate world where there are huge libraries dedicated to magical tomes of all sorts. Not only will you find general texts, but you'll find thorough books on very specific topics.

It's sort of like walking into Hogwarts or a similar fantasy-based setting, and finding books on the care of magical creatures, entire expositions on the best use of the wand, and histories of incredibly obscure sects.

While I am firmly planted in this reality, I have been delighted to see a rising number of books that go into detail about specific practical pagan topics, rather than "a chapter on this, a chapter on that" generalities. "Your Altar" is a superb, innovative guide to a rather deceptively simple idea: how to set up your altar.

Kynes has quite obviously put a lot of work, time, and love into this book. It is an excellent guide to the layout of your altar--not necessarily the specific tools and their uses, but the actual altar itself. She explains the theory and practice behind altar setups involving anywhere from one to nine sections. It's a wonderfully cosmopolitan book as well, drawing from neopagan, Buddhist, Christian and other religious traditions to give examples of how the individual practitioner may set up hir sacred working space. Rather than simply giving us a bunch of correspondences, Kynes explains why each layout is important, and what its appeal is. It's truly thorough, yet streamlined.

Kynes' writing style is excellent, inviting and easy to read, yet informative. And I was incredibly pleased to see a nice selection of footnote citations showing exactly where she got certain pieces of information from her research, rather than just leaving us with a bibliography and a pile of questions. She's done her work, and it shows.

Overall, I found this to be an excellent read--and I admit, I'm a tough one to impress! Whether you're a newbie just getting started, or a seasoned witch or mage looking for new ideas for your altar space, give this book a try.

 

~review by Lupa

Author: Sandra Kynes

Llewellyn, 2007

$15.95, 240 pages

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