I never really gave much thought to an altar when I first started practicing Witchcraft. I suppose I’m sort of the ‘odd man out’ in that way. I must be because I get questions from new Witches all the time asking about altars. How to set up an altar, whether or not they need to have one, and how to use one as well.
There are many ways to set up an altar. We aren’t really going to cover that in this post, as it is definitely worthy of a post of it’s own. (If you want a post on that subject leave a comment down below and I’ll try to get to it sooner rather than later). It’s not something you need to know to create your first altar. While there are some who believe that there is proper placement for altar items, I am not of their camp. I put things where I feel they belong. Sometimes I work within guidelines. Most times I do not.
An altar is a very powerful tool but you don’t need to have one if you don’t want one. And if space or secrecy are a thing for you, it is perfectly okay to keep your altar pieces in a box and bring them out only when you are using them. Altars are one amazing place to work your Craft from and I couldn’t live without one now that I’ve had one. But the fact is I worked without one for many years. And it certainly didn’t make me any less of a Witch.
I must admit that the focus that my altar hones in me does directly contribute to the level of power I see in my work though. So there’s that 😉
And … as far as how to use an altar? I’m pretty sure you’ll have a darn good idea of that by the time you get done reading this post. So maybe we should just jump right on into the subject of altars and see how it all pans out in the end!
WHAT IS AN ALTAR?
An altar is a Witches personal working space. A space from which they perform their magickal workings. It can be where they cast spells, work divination magick, worship their deities, work on their book of shadows, write in their journals, and even where they meditate.
Altars have been created by Witches to assist them in their work for millennia. They serve as a tool to promote focus. And when a Witch maintains intense focus on her magickal work it exponentially increases its effectiveness. That is a very good thing. Very good indeed!
This space is also a helpful aid in refining the practice of the Witch. It becomes a place where her mind is often instantly transported to another plane. A magickal plane. It is there that she tunes into the Divine in a way that she doesn’t necessarily experience in other areas of her life. At least not on the regular. This connection deepens the bond between the Witch and the powers she works with. The powers of Nature. The Universe. Of creation itself.
It is my experience that once a Witch creates and begins to actively use an altar it quickly becomes the very heart of her practice.
WHERE CAN I BUILD MY ALTAR?
You can build an altar anywhere. Like literally anywhere at all.
I erect little altar spaces almost every time I get myself out to dance with Mama Nature (and that’s a lot!). I sometimes carry a mini-altar with me when I’m traveling. And I put up altars all around my house. On the shelves above the kitchen stove, on the back of the commode, on windowsills (all of the windowsills), at the entryway of the house (indoors and out), on the dashboard of my car, and all over my property. I even created an altar in the refrigerator once. Call me a bit ‘off’. That’s okay. But don’t knock it till you try it. It really helped me work on seeing my body as a temple. No kidding 😉
Still, the type of altar this post is focused on is more of a ‘permanent’ space. A place where you feel comfortable and have privacy. A place where you can let loose and allow your practice to unfold organically. You want this space to call out to you. You want to want to be there.
More important than the structure is the location. So choose a location and then begin to build. You can use a table, a shelf, or even an old wooden box. You can lay a board across two old milk crates or two piles of bricks. You can do whatever you have to do to create in the location you choose. Just as long as you construct in a way that is pleasing to you and makes you feel as though you are there for the sole purpose of dancing with magick.
HOW DO I USE MY ALTAR?
There is no right and wrong to how you use your altar. Simply be sure you do 😉
As mentioned previously in this post, altars are perfect for spell-casting, journaling, meditating, divination magick, worshiping deity, and working on your book of shadows. I also use mine to hold ritual for each of the sabbats and present offerings to my beloved Gaia.
As you can imagine the myriad of ways to use an altar will mean that this space is likely to change very regularly. Place the items you are using for your current work in this space and remove those which are not pertinent to it at this time. Unless, of course, there are a few things you prefer to have there all of the time then leave those there. Just keep in mind that this is not a space for Witchy decor. Keeping this space laden down with unnecessary items can stagnate the energy pretty quickly.
An altar is ALL about energy! It is a space that should be teeming with energetic activity. Literally alive and emanating GREAT POWER.
It is the task of the Witch to keep the energy in her space active. And there are a many ways to do this.
First … Use the space. Simple as that, Witches! Use the space. Often. You don’t want it to be a place for dust to collect. That’s not productive.
Next … You may want to lay down an altar cloth before you work in this space. When working with oils, incense, and candles on a regular basis it becomes pretty inevitable that you are going to end up with debris on the surface of your working space. An inexpensive cloth that you don’t mind getting messy makes a nice addition to the space. It can be washed which is helpful. And it can be changed to fit the work you are doing as well.
If you are so inclined you can put out a nicer altar cloth for the sabbats. It’s festive and fun 😉
And finally … It’s important to clear and cleanse your altar space before you begin a new working. Remove any residual energy from your previous work. Making way for brand new intentions to permeate the space. I often clear and cleanse the space randomly between workings. Particularly when I feel the last working has come to a close but I am not ready to start a new one.
All of the advise in this post is subjective, of course. You don’t have to use your altar in the ways I’ve advised. It is YOUR space. There are Witches who like their altar space to remain ‘intact’ at all times. They don’t move much around. They have the items which are important to them, placed in the spots that they feel are appropriate, and that is the way they like to work. There is nothing at all wrong with that approach. If you find magic awaiting you when you sit down at your altar then you are on the right track.
I do not function that way at all. For me, magic is fluid. It moves. It changes. And that pleases me.
Perhaps you are unsure which practices work for you. If you are a brand new Witch it is almost certain that you are. Don’t be afraid to try different things out. Experiment. And see what pleases you. It is absolutely fine to make changes as you go, Witches. Absolutely fine.
LET’S GROW TOGETHER
Let’s meet in the comments and grow together …
It would be great to hear your where you’re at with your altar. Are you a brand new Witch who is still experimenting with what works best for her? And if so, what have you learned so far? Or maybe you are an experienced Witch who has been using an altar for some time? Perhaps you have some insight to offer on this sometimes controversial subject?
I’d love to hear your experiences Witches! I really would!
AND I truly feel that when one Ancient Allies Witch shares ALL Ancient Allies Witches benefit ❤️😉❤️
May good fortune chase you throughout ALL of your days, Witches!
And May Bountiful Blessings Be Yours ~ Diane (The Ancient Allies Witch)