Like a lot of spellwork, Wiccan altars are as varied as the witches who use them. This is our coven’s guide on how to make a Wiccan altar but there’s a lot of variance you can use. Take this as a rough guideline rather than a hard set rule. From solitary witches to entire covens, an altar can be set to remain in a stationary place or something you move around as needed, it can be made to fit specific needs or be used for general spellwork. So what do you need to know?
Your altar needs to be constructed with the right type of wood (there are several options here) and needs to represent the various elements. You can create your altar with items from the home or buy specific items. Much like a Book of Shadows, your altar should be custom to your needs and connection with the craft.
Starting Your Wiccan Altar
Important: The first thing you should do is make sure you’re constructing your Wiccan altar to corrosond to your own innate strengths and connections. If you haven’t already, take the coven’s magick ability test before starting your altar.
In making your own Wicca altar, you need a table or a tree stump, or anything that resembles those objects, and some specific altar items, such as a wand or athame, figurines, candles, and some other items which we will cover below.
Imagine it being a magical workbench. The altar can be made out of stacked stones, wood, or any finished materials that you have available. The first thing you have to consider is whether or not you have a stable ground base for your Wiccan altar. You don’t want your magic tools to fall while in the middle of a chant, or to dismember and break the protection circle you did in its surroundings.
That would be disastrous. Fear not though, as you can also use a table, or a simple desk, or even an elaborate desk with numerous drawers in which you can easily store your magic-related tools. The only important thing here is to have your altar stable enough. Once dedicated as an altar it should not be used for everyday tasks after this however, so choose carefully.
Altars are most commonly made out of wood. Now, depending on The Wiccan tradition you follow or want to follow, or on the spell you wish to perform, there are different options for making your Wiccan altar. Some traditions state that you are the altar, and thus, you won’t need anything else. However, the vast majority use a physical altar, and as such, let us take a look at some types of altars that you may create, where to place them, and what magical tools are used in the process.
Variety of Wiccan Altars
Some specific traditions believe that the altar should be made out of oak, symbolizing great strength, thus strengthening the rite. Others believe that maple wood is the best, being the only one allowed when making an altar. Regardless, don’t let yourself be scared because of this. Now, generally, even your coffee table can be used as an altar, or if you are in the wilds, an altar of stones and wood might be the best option you will have.
Some Wiccans use a type of wood they are the most comfortable with, since certain types of wood have a strong smell, and they might not bear it. Regardless of the kind of altar, you will create, the second step is to do the altar’s dedication process.
You can do this by smudging it and sprinkling it with saltwater, while praying or saying your specific incantations (or whatever empowering formula comes to your mind), to consecrate it for further use. Now that you have a general idea about altars and their types, let us talk about where a Wiccan altar might be put and what magic tools you should use.
You Don’t Need Everything at Once
When setting up your altar to begin with, you don’t need to have everything at once. Reember, there are no hard set rules here and you can easily setup a simple altar and expand it as you go to suit your needs.
I say this often when people ask how to get into witchcraft. Start simple. Most witches build their altar slowly over years but start with something as simple as an altar cloth and a few candles to represent the elements.
Where to Make a Wiccan Altar
You can make your altar outside your house, in a garden, in your room, or whatever place suits your intentions best. It is of immense advantage to have the altar in a specially consecrated room to do the magic work. That room should never be used for another purpose.
Also, that place should not be entered by any other person than yourself, except in the case that you may work with someone else or someone initiated comes for an inspection. Keep in mind that the aura in your selected place will accumulate with the regularity and the frequency of rituals, thus strengthening the altar and its tools.
If you are in a temporary residence or in a space that you share with other people, don’t worry. You can have your altar set up there with no adverse effects. Just try and find the time when you can be by yourself, to secure the personal aspect of your ritual, and to be sure you can finish it without being interrupted.
Being a nature-revering religion, the Wiccan altar may also be set outside, in a spot within a forest only you know about, near a waterfall, or whichever place you resonate with. You have to choose a place that you know is not crossed by other people, to be by yourself when you do your work.
The altar is usually facing north, and it must represent the elements in the following order: the Earth should face North, the Air should face the East, Fire should face South and Water to the West (I’ll show you how to represent the elements in a moment).
Wiccan Altar Tools
For a Wicca practitioner, the altar tools are an essential part of actual practice for any other magic uses. Without those, the altar is simply a table or a surface, without a specific meaning. It gains empowerment according to what kind of tools are used and what kind of magic, druidic, occult, ceremonial, or Wicca rituals are made on it. There are many magic tools for Wiccan practices, each of them having a purpose on their own.
Some of these tools are a wand, crystal or chalice, satchels, pentacle, gemstones, incense, athame, candles, figurines, and so on. Some of them are used to direct the energy and the will of the practitioner; others are used as a means of protection and as safety measures if your ritual goes wrong. Items such a wand, an athame, or a crystal can be used in directing energy.
A cloak, a hat, or a pair of specifically programmed gloves grants an empowering effect and can help protect against unwanted energies. The altar must have a statue, a drawing, or an image of the God or Goddess that you work with. It is a representation of your devotion to that specific entity. A wand or an athame is required when it comes to directing energy and will in a ritual. Other necessary items when it comes to your altar are candles. Candles are used to channel energy or to make offerings for your Goddess or God.
How to Represent the Elements on Your Altar
Candles also count as a representation of the Fire element on your altar. For Air, you can have a pouch with rose petals in yellow silk or a feather. For Earth, you can have a green silk satchel, also packed with salt. Water can be used in a regular or silver chalice or bowl to represent the element of Water. Now you have expressed the four elements, but you can also add gemstones of the colors of chakras or the tree of life to represent them.
The standard placement of these items on your altar should be like this:
- A pentacle in the middle of the altar, encircled by the four elements.
- The shadows of static objects should not be cast on the altar.
- Above the pentacle, you should put the Earth-representing items – salt or satchel.
- On the right side, the Air, represented by the feather or satchel.
- On its left side, the Water, represented by the water bowl.
- Below the pentacle, towards you, place a candle to represent the Fire element.
You put your wand or athame on the bottom right, representing the male deity, and on-base left the chalice filled with spirit or wine, representing the female deity. On the right side of the altar, place the incense.
Above all of these items, from left to right, you shall put your Goddess statue, one or two illuminating candles, and the God statue. If you work only with one entity, place the statue in the middle and two illuminator candles on its sides.
Other Items You Could Use For Magick
You can also have some other items such as a pendulum, usually made from a piece of metal or stone fastened to the end of a chain or a string. It is traditionally used in divination. You can add a scrying mirror (usually black) or a crystal or glass ball to use in scrying, a form of divination. Also, runes are not uncommon for Wiccan practices. These symbols of the ancient Germanic alphabet are used in magic, writing, and divination. Oils, which are not tools technically, are used to anoint and charge different candles, depending on their composition.
Now you have a general idea about how to make the Wiccan altar and about the tools that are generally used along with it. You can now start doing your prayers, devotions, divinations, or any work you desire more systematically. It is a great and handy tool to have for its magick uses and an empowering addition for witches or Wiccan practitioners and any other forms of rituals or incantations.