(What can I say? Storm-and-pollen weather makes me peevish.)
Today’s peeve is another entry in the Homonyms to Watch Out For competition: alter and altar. Not the same thing, folks. To start with, one of them’s a verb and the other’s a noun. Beyond that—
To alter something is to change it. The adherents of the Arachnophagic Heresy of the Cult of the Great Spider angered the orthodox Spiderians when they attempted to alter the liturgy.
An altar is a table or flat-topped block used as the focus for a religious ritual. The orthodox Spiderians disapproved of the Arachnophagists’ practice of setting up the main altar as a dinner table, with the centerpiece being a platter of deep-fried tarantulas.
It all ended badly, of course. The attempt to alter the Spiderian altar resulted in the terrible and bloody Spider Wars of the Fifth Age, at the end of which the Cult of the Great Spider was no more.