Thursday, 25 April 2013

Setting Up An Altar

We are very proud to have a guest blogger today,
one of our very lovely students from the Kitchen Witch School:-

Setting Up An Altar
By Autumn Moonchilde

Setting up an altar is really quite easy, and can be a fun, creative process. You can set up a huge, elaborate altar, or a very tiny one in the corner of a shelf, it's all up to you. The are no firm rules as to how it should be done. Follow your heart and create something that has meaning to you, and serves your needs. Here are a few traditional items that are usually used in Wicca and Paganism.

First, find a space that suits your purpose. You can use a shelf, a table, the fireplace mantle or anywhere you deem appropriate. I prefer to set my altars up on something made of wood, as wood is natural, but that's a personal choice.

Now it's time to decide what you want to place on your altar. If possible, cover your space with an altar cloth. It can be anything that you feel a connection with, but I would advise using something that you won't mind getting wax on in case you use candles.

It's typical to use symbols that represent the four Elements aligned in the proper cardinal direction. Consider using a bowl of dirt or a crystal in the North aspect of your altar to represent Earth. Incense is perfect in the East for Air, candles in the South for Fire (don't forget matches or a lighter) and a bowl of water or a pretty seashell representing Water in the West. You can even use pictures of the Elements if you like.

Magical tools are also commonly used on altars. If you are doing a ritual, you will want to display all of the tools you will need. This may include an athame, a wand, a cauldron, a pentacle and/or a Book of Shadows, for instance. If you have enough room, perhaps add some cakes and wine for an offering. You can also decorate your altar with statues or images of your favorite deity, or if you are celebrating a Sabbat, use season appropriate items, such as pumpkins for Samhain and holly for Yule.

But what if you have limited space and can't set up a large altar? What are the essentials? The answer is whatever you feel comfortable with. I, for example, am the only Pagan in my household, and I am not publicly "out of the broom closet" with most people. I have a room in my house, out of the public view, where I keep an altar and all of my Pagan tools. However, I wanted a kitchen altar. I didn't have much space and I wanted to keep it discreet, so my options were kind of limited. With nothing more than a votive candle, a rose quartz crystal, and some bay leaves, I made a tiny altar on my kitchen windowsill. It's small and discreet, and it serves its purpose beautifully.

So, the choices are yours. Be creative and have fun with it. Listen to your intuition and make your altar a reflection of your beliefs and your personality. There is no right and wrong, as long as it comes from the heart.

Blessed Be!



  1. Amazing piece of writing and I very much enjoyed reading it. I have a small altar in the corner of one room which is also a working altar. On top of another display case is another and I love your idea for one on the kitchen windowsill. What a perfect solution!
    Thank you for sharing
    Autumn Ravenflower

  2. I also use my windowsill. A few careful crystals, a candle, and some plants suffice, with a few crystals, and a bunch of acorns hanging above. I add and change items according to the season, and whatever attracts me.

  3. Nice article. My altar is on the mantle and hearth of a fireplace. In front of the fireplace I've placed a small antique table that I use for related "practical" purposes. Above the fireplace hand dried herbs, old garden clippers, baskets, a lantern and a handmade sickle. To the side of the fireplace are by stang, staff, and broom. Just my opinion, but altars look better with a few well chosen or meaningful items on them, as opposed to being crammed with so much that they look more like flea market tables than altars. I prefer simple, rustic looking tools made of clay, wood, bone and iron to fancy expensive "bought" items. As we work with the power in the land, an old wooden bowl used for housel, for example, is - for me - more beautiful than an onyx bowl set in a silver stand.