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Create a versatile witch’s altar in 7 simple steps

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Many witches have an altar or altars as a focus for their practice Altars can be a place to journal or meditate and/or to do spellwork and divination. A witch’s altar doesn’t need to be complicated – a simple shelf or windowsill with a few items that are sacred to you is all you need to create one. But this is also an area where you can let your witchy creativity go a little mad!

This post explains a bit about the many ways you can create a powerful magical witch’s altar that is perfect for you and your practice. If you are in a hurry – jump to the seven-step process below.

I have to admit that I am a bit of an altar addict. I have little shelves and plates all over the house that act as mini altars or shrines. I love to spend time adding to them, lighting incense and burning candles there while focusing on my intentions. I also have a main witch’s altar where I do my spell work, divination and journaling. However, you do not have to have an altar to be a witch. Many witches get along just fine without one – so the choice is yours. 

There are many types of witch’s altar, from a simple shelf with a plant and a candle to a Wiccan altar that is set up for complex rituals. Your altar doesn’t need to look like an altar. It can be a few precious items on a windowsill or side table where you spend a few moments each day gathering your thoughts or taking a few deep breaths. This will be no less powerful than a more obviously ‘witchy’ altar. If it has meaning to you, it’s a witch’s altar, even if no one else would recognize it as one.

I often include battery LED candles or fairylights on my altars to give them a magical feel without being too overtly ‘witchy’ for shared spaces.

There are also alternatives if you would love to have a ‘witchy’ altar but having one is not on the cards for you. You may like to create an altar in a box or tin that you get out when you need it and stow away when it’s not in use.

A witch’s altar can be whatever you want it to be and there are no rules you have to follow to create an altar the ‘right’ way. Following your instincts and intuition can be the perfect way to start creating an altar and you can always adjust it as your needs and practice grow and change. Create as many altars as you please and let them be decorated in any way you choose and for whatever purpose suits your needs and practice.

What will you use your witch’s altar for

If you are ready to begin creating a witch’s altar it is a good idea to work out what you will use the space for. This will help you to decide where might be the best place to set it up and what you might like to include.

Some people like to spend a few minutes each day meditating at their witch’s altar, communing with the Goddess or their higher self, offering gratitude, making petitions or simply taking a few calming breaths. Others like a space where they can perform spells and rituals, practice divination, meet with ancestors or connect with unseen worlds. The type of work you do as a witch will determine where you place your altar and what you decide to place on it.

Your witch’s altar can be on a desk, shelf, tabletop, windowsill or any other flat surface. You can also lay your altar out on the floor if you choose. If you will be using candles ensure the place you choose is safe. Check that there are no shelves above it that might catch fire, or any curtains or fabrics nearby that could catch light. Also, consider whether you need additional storage nearby for tools or ingredients. You could keep these in a box, or bag, on a shelf or in a drawer nearby.

If you need to keep your witch’s altar secret, plan where you will set it up and how it will be stored when not in use.

What to include on your witch’s altar

Once you have decided where you will place your witch’s altar you can have fun deciding what to put on it. This will depend on the type of witch you are and the type of magic you practice. If you are Wiccan you might want to research what to include on a Wiccan altar, such as tools and representations of the elements, and where these should be placed in the space. If you are more of a folk, intuitive or eclectic witch then just follow your intuition about what to include and where to place things.

Your altar can be as minimal or as maximal as you please. It can scream ‘witch’ or be so subtle that no one ever suspects that it is a witch’s altar. Don’t get too caught up in aesthetics though. Many of the altars we see online are carefully curated, beautiful, and expensive, however – much like a kitchen in a homes magazine spread – this is not a true reflection of how most witches’ altars look on a day-to-day basis. Your altar needs to work for you, so make sure you leave space for any practices you want to perform there such as spells or divination.

If it is difficult for you to regularly set up your altar, Kelly Ann Madox author of Rebel Witch suggests taking a photo of your altar. You can then ‘Get this image up on a computer screen or print it not paper, and sit in front of it as though it’s there in front of you.’

Here are a few things you might like to include on your altar or store nearby. None of these are necessary though – you do you, witch!!!

  • An altar cloth, chopping board, plate or tray to protect the surface
  • Symbols and objects that reflect your practice such as images or items to represent deities, ancestors or the elements
  • Tools such as a wand, athame, cauldron
  • Candles and candle holders or LED candles or battery lights
  • Incense, a bell or spray for cleansing
  • Crystals
  • Divination tools
  • Bowls for salt, water, earth or offerings
  • A notebook or journal
  • Matches or lighter
  • Herbs and spices

Now that you have decided where your altar will be and what you would like to include you can begin to arrange your altar. You can set up a very traditional Wiccan altar, follow your intuition or just arrange it so that you like how it looks and the way it makes you feel. Don’t worry about getting it ‘perfect’ though. This is a working space that will likely change over time.

How to set up your witch’s altar

  1. Choose a suitable place for your altar such as a shelf, table or windowsill.
  2. Add a cloth, tray or plate to your altar for decoration and to protect the surface from candle wax and water spills.
  3. Decide on what you would like to include on your altar such as images, candles, tools etc…(see above for more details on what to include)
  4. Set up storage, such as a box, shelf or drawer for additional tools and ingredients such as spare candles, tools and ingredients.
  5. Cleanse the space by physically cleaning the surface and your items. You may also cleanse with sound or smoke.
  6. Arrange your items according to the tradition you follow or your intuition. Remember to leave space for spellwork or divination if you intend to use your altar for these.
  7. Spend time at your altar as often as possible. How does it make you feel? Make any adjustments you need to tailor it to you and your practice.

What to do on your witch’s altar

Now that your altar is set up, try to spend some time there as often as possible. You can sit and journal or meditate there or just spend a few moments taking some deep breaths. You can also practice divination, perform spells or connect with spirits deities or ancestors at your later.

You could also check out my post on Simple Magic Spells for some spell ideas to get you started

Check back next week for my next post, Witchcraft altars: 7 powerful ways to use your sacred space gives some ideas on how to use your new altar.

Eva May Baker
Eva May Baker
Hello, and welcome to The City Witch, your portal into the magical world that exists within the hustle and bustle of city life. My name is Eva Baker and I am an urban folk witch, author and your guide on this magical journey.

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