A witch’s altar is a magical working space. It is where most spells, rituals and other workings are performed. Keeping an altar is the best way for magical souls to stay grounded while stretching their wings, and exploring the mystical realms.
If you’re new to witchcraft, paganism, or Wicca it is likely you have already encountered many opinions about how you should or shouldn’t set up your altar. Today I hope to dispel a few myths and give you the confidence to jump in and set up your own unique space!
Many magical traditions do have certain guidelines for decorating and organizing an altar. But if you’re not attempting to follow a set tradition, then there are absolutely no rules, or restrictions on what you can do with your altar space.
The truth is there are as many ways to set up an altar as there are witches and spiritualists in the world! But, “you can do whatever you want” is quite a broad place for most people to start from! So here are the basic elements to consider when arranging your first altar…
1. Choose A Surface
Any surface at all will do the trick. You can use a table, bookshelf, desk, window sill, bedside table, portable tray, box, the floor of your room, or a tree stump, just to give you a few ideas.
2. Choose An Altar Cloth
While they’re not essential, altar cloths are great for protecting the surface of your working space from dripping wax, oil spills, stray herbs and other messes.
They are also a great base for setting up a temporary, or travel altar. Cloths can help the space you have created to feel more cohesive.
3. Select Your Magical Tools
The tools you choose to have on your altar will vary depending on the spells and rituals you plan to perform.
As a general guideline…
I like to keep some kind of divination tool on my altar, such as a tarot deck, perhaps a pendulum, or a notebook for automatic writing. And then any other spell tools I may be using at the time. Wands, cauldrons, incense burners, herbs, crystals, stones, feathers, or bells to name some possibilities.
Candles are always featured on my altars too (I have discovered that “warm light” is essential for all of my spaces. Over time, you will discover what your personal altar essentials are too).
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4. Represent Your Spiritual Beliefs
This is where it gets really personal. If you follow any kind of religion or spiritual philosophy your altar is the perfect place to include symbols (images, trinkets, statues, or other items) reflecting your beliefs.
Remember there is nothing that “isn’t allowed” on your altar!
5. Add Anything Else That Is Meaningful To You
Some people include figures who have had a big influence in their life. Such as musicians, artists, celebrities, or fictional characters.
Others will decorate with objects from their childhood, special gifts, or other items from loved ones.
Plants, certain colors, meaningful quotes, or other imagery that feels significant in some way are all at home on your altar.
The trick to creating the perfect altar space for you, is to simply do it! It can seem a daunting task in the beginning, but we all begin there. As you continue to explore and practice magic you will figure out the best way to set up an altar for yourself.
It takes trial and error, and that is all part of the magical adventure!
One last tip… take photos or videos of the altars you create. It’s a really enlightening and fun experience to go back and see where you began. It’s also a great way to track your progression over time!
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