This "old piece of plywood" is about 24 year old!
When we talk about "foundations" in the magical community, most people think of information, teachings, notes, etc. How many people include our first tools and their origins in thinking of foundations?
I'm not materialistic by any stretch, but I find that I bind objects to myself--form relationships with objects--very easily. I am also empathic and can pick up emotional energy from objects pretty easily. Whether it's a conscious effort or not, our objects absorb our energy and tend to hold onto it. (This, of course, is how tools are charged.)
This crappy-looking piece of plywood was my first altar. Significantly, it also represents foundations in my life in other ways: It's a piece of sub floor from the first house in which my mother and I lived together after leaving my previous home, where we'd lived with extended family.
A piece of the floor from my mother's and my first home* became my first altar. It was also while living in that house that I got my first dog, with whom I bonded very strongly. (I still miss Charlie!)
I was 18 or 19, and our house was being renovated. At the time, I had just started exploring the Craft. One day, I was out in the yard doing something, and I was drawn to the wood pile. This piece of wood was sitting right on top, and it had a very strong glow to it. I could not not touch it, and once I did, I knew.
This altar is just big enough to hold my God and Goddess candles, small quarter candles, my needfire, and a few small objects for Ritual. It has been though many homes with me. With time, it has been worn smooth and has absorbed the fragrance of all of the oils with which I've blessed it and the objects that have sat upon it. It's been the centerpiece in several risky nighttime rituals in places I didn't belong (Wheaton Regional Park, anyone?)
It has been through several homes with me, and though I no longer use it on its own, it has sat on every altar I have had through the years. To be sure, I don't feel right if it's not right there on my altar with everything else. If and when I need a traveling altar, this will be it.
This altar came before Covens, athame, initiations, and formal teachings. This altar came to me just as I started to put my feet upon the Path. Much like Circle gets built up around the altar, so has my entire practice has sprung up around this altar. I guard it jealously. It is always one of the first things that I secure and pack when I move, and I always make sure I know where it is
When you think of and honor your Craft foundations, do you include your tools?
*Interesting side note about that house: Years later, when I was working in retail, I waited on a man one day. He wrote a check. I asked for his driver's license, as is customary. As I was matching the address on his check to his ID, I realized that he lived at my old address!