Your Personal Space
The first thing you need is a personal space. It is essential to be able to practice your spells without anyone bothering you, and also to have a place where you can safely store your Witches tools, books and supplies. Ideally, you should have a space apart from your everyday world, such as an attic, basement, a corner of your bedroom, or even a space outside. The important thing here is that you can have privacy and silence to meditate and focus on your goals.
In this lesson, you will learn:
- Your Altar
- How to Decorate your Altar
- Creating a Wiccan Altar
- Altar Blessing Ritual
- An Altar for Everyone
How to Setup a Witch Altar
When casting spells, we use the word “altar“ (not alter) to talk about our work table. Actually, it could be any flat surface and even just a mat on the floor. Your altar will be the focal point of your spells or rituals and it is where most ritual actions and Magical works will be performed.
Setting up a basic altar is quite simple, usually it’s just a table where you will place the tools you are about to use and any symbols depicting your beliefs.
Rule #1 of your Pagan Altar
Anything goes! The most important thing is that you feel free to decorate, explore, re-arrange, and above all, have fun when creating your altar, which is a never-ending process. Your altar is unique to you and nobody else should be telling you what is right or wrong about it.
Witchy Tip: Before adding any new item to your altar, learn about its meaning. Ask yourself why you like it and how you can use it.
Rule #2 of your Pagan Altar
Don’t clutter it! Remember that this is actually a workspace and you’ll need room for ingredients, tools, and more. Empty it when you’re not using it. Avoid cluttering your altar by finding a nice place for your tools. Store them in a drawer, box, or shelf when you are not using them.
How to Decorate your Altar
No matter what kind of altar you are creating, it is advisable to cover its surface with a piece of cloth that will act both as an ornament and as protection from liquids, scratching, and wax drippings. Go shopping for an altar cloth and if you see any that you like and have some symbols on it, ask about their meanings.
Some Witches like to change their altar cloth according to the type of ritual they are doing, or following the Wheel of the Year, having a different one for each season and each Pagan holiday. If you’re on a budget, simply use any piece of cloth that you have at home.
If you are an Eclectic practitioner and feel connected to Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or anything other spiritual traditions, you can add images or figures that symbolize your beliefs and remind you of who you are. If you are devoted to a specific deity, you could add a statue or drawing of them on your altar. For example, statues of the Wiccan Deities.
Some Pagans like to place a figure or drawing of their spirit animal and keep it as company and protection for their altar. If you’re Wiccan, add a pentagram in the center, or keep reading to learn how to set up a Wiccan altar. Set your altar however you prefer but especially in a way that feels comfortable to you.
Candles & Candle Holders
If you plan to work with Candle Magic – and you probably will after Lesson 7 – you’ll need at least one candle holder. Take your time when looking for one. Make sure that it’s sturdy enough to withstand the heat of the candle and that it won’t fall over if you accidentally bump into your altar. I encourage you to work with biodegradable, eco-friendly tools. Materials such as ceramics, glass and metal are ideal.
Can’t wait to work with candles? Jump to Lesson 7 and learn everything about Candle Spells
An incense burner will come in handy whether you are casting a spell, meditating, or simply using aromatherapy for relaxation. Incense burners come in many shapes and styles. Check out also some incense holders. Alternatively, you could use your cauldron to burn herbs in it.
Creating a Wiccan Altar
In Wicca and Nature spirituality, the building blocks of your altar can be the four traditional Elements, which you can align using the four cardinal points.
Here’s a basic altar layout example:
- A bowl of sand, dirt or a plant on the North end of your altar to represent the Element Earth,
- A stick of incense in the East can symbolize the Element Air,
- A candle or some charcoal in the South for Fire,
- A glass or bowl with Water will be facing West.
Witchy Lifehack: The bowl of water will come handy should you need to quickly extinguish anything. Always practice Candle Safety
You can light the incense and candle before a meditation, during a devotional, a prayer, to start your day or before going to bed. Just make sure you don’t leave candles burning unattended. If you’re going somewhere else, simply blow it out or snuff it off with a candle-snuffer.
Some Wiccans prefer to simply use four candles to represent the four directions, and a candle or figure for the Goddess and one for the God. You could use candles in different colors to easily distinguish them. For example:
- North = Green candle (Earth) 🌱
- East = Yellow candle (Air) 💨
- South = Red candle (Fire) 🔥
- West = Blue candle (Water) 💧
You can always just use white candles if you don’t have colored ones. Light all of them at the same time before your rituals, always being careful not to burn anything on your altar. Make sure there’s nothing above your candles, such as a cupboard or shelf.
Combine these ideas in any way that you like. Being an Eclectic Wiccan is all about trial and error, there are no set rules.
Find more ideas on Altar Placement at the Spells8 Forum
Altar Blessing Ritual
Here’s a guided ritual to bless your altar at home, whether you’re a Wiccan or not.
It was inspired by an altar blessing chant by Geri B. Davis and the Magician Tarot card, using the basic tools of the Craft.
Watch the video and print the prayer and ritual.
An Altar for Everyone
Not everyone can have a fixed altar in a central place of their homes, especially if you live in a shared space with someone who might be offended or annoyed by it.
In the event that the other members of the house don’t want to see your altar, you can keep it hidden by putting together a portable altar which you will assemble at the time of casting a spell, and then fold it back and put it away. Your portable altar could be a folding table or two easels with a board on top, and a nice wooden box with your tools inside.
On the other hand, if you live on your own or with people who accept your beliefs, you can have a permanent altar, for example a small table, dedicated solely to fulfill that function. To others, it may seem a strange exhibition of objects, but for us, not only does it have ritual importance, but it also reminds us of our spiritual path. ✨
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📓 In this lesson, you will learn the following, and more:
✦ The Baby Witch’s Toolkit (What you really need)
✦ Beginner’s Shopping List
✦ Traditional Tools: Athame, Boline, Cauldron
✦ Book of Shadows
✦ Magic Wand
Or Browse All Lessons in this free course.