An altar is an integral part of a Wiccan’s practice. Not only does it act as a focal point and a place to contain magical energy, it also reflects wishes and beliefs of the practitioner. It serves as a reminder of Wiccan practice and most importantly, offers a space or a “home” for the Divine.
An altar is a highly personal reflection of a Wiccan’s own personality; however, every altar should contain certain items:
A table. There is no “right” design of table; some people choose round tables for ease of use in a ritual circle while others may like a square table that fits easily in a corner to save space. Some people prefer not to use a table but prefer a chest or other object which can serve as a surface and store the items and implements inside. Many practitioners prefer an altar of natural material such as wood, stone, or metal. The design and material of your altar is a very personal choice; choose one that resonates with you. It is always a good idea to cleanse and consecrate your altar before you use it. You can use a cloth and saltwater to wipe it or sage to smudge with. Some Wiccans put it outside to be exposed to the rays of the sun or moon.
Altar cloth. You can choose a cloth with images or symbols that are important to you and your practice. You also have the option of changing altar cloths with the season or for special rituals or events. The altar is traditionally set up to face East or North.
Items that symbolize the four elements. Earth, air, fire, and water should all be represented on your altar. Symbols can be as simple as a bowl with sand to represent Earth; make sure it is located in the north aspect of the altar. Air should be on the east (many practitioners use incense), the south aspect should have a candle or other object for fire, and the west should have a bowl of water or other symbol for water.
Candles. Most Wiccan use candles that signify the four cardinal directions while others also include a goddess and possibly a god candle. Make sure you have something to light them with.
An athame. A knife or short sword used in rituals, this should be placed on your altar for ceremonial use.
A wand. You will use this to direct energy, so make sure it is included on your altar.
Book of Shadows. You will want to keep this collection of spells on your altar to use during rituals. Check out my book on how to make your own book of shadows!
These are the main items Wiccans keep on their altars, but you can also include other spell components; you may also want to decorate your altar for the season.
An important thing to remember is to check that your altar contains all the items needed for a ritual before you begin your ceremony, or you may not be able to effectively carry out the ritual.
There are also ready-made altar sets available in the marketplace that might make it a bit easier to put together your altar for the first time!
I wish you all the best in your magickal journey.
Dayanara Blue Star