Preparing Your Altar - Preparation for Practicing the Craft

Wicca: Book of Spells and Witchcraft for Beginners. The Guide of Shadows for Wiccans, Solitary Witches, and Other Practitioners of Magic Rituals - Arin Chamberlains 2018

Preparing Your Altar
Preparation for Practicing the Craft

Several Witches work and meet outdoors, in spaces like the edges of a field, in a wood clearing or the like, but it is understandable that this is not always a possibility for others, especially those who live in urban areas where it is difficult to find a secluded natural space. However, your Temple can be in a space that is indoors as well, and here we will help you select a space and set it up for worship.

The area that you decide on using for performing magickal rituals and working as a Witch can be many types of spaces — it can be a whole building, just a room, or even as little as a section of a room. It is simply a matter of what is available to you. Shape and size are irrelevant when selecting a sacred space for your altar. Of course, it is ideal to have an entire room dedicated to your Temple, but it is not necessary. You may make use of even an apartment or any other room, with space cleared, for your altar.

What You Will Need for Your Altar

Candles— have one or two candles on your altar when working magick.

Incense burner & incense—The burning of incense adds to the atmosphere of your work, and it is a tradition thousands of years old. If all you have available is the stick or cone incense, you may use it; however, bear in mind that it is best to make use of charcoal briquettes and powdered incense for magickal work and performing of rituals. Use a hanging incense burner if you can, but a saucer-like vessel filled with sand will suffice.

Salt and water dishes—salted water is a representation of life. You may use any kind of containers or vessels for this, even getting creative and using seashells or coconut shells etc.

Libation dish—the libation dish is a vessel used during indoor magick work to contain the first pouring of wine or fruit juice, after a toast to the gods during rituals. The vessel is taken outside following the completion of the ceremony, and the contents are poured on the ground. These dishes may be of any type as well. If the ceremony is taking place outside, the toast offering is simply poured on the ground directly.

Goblet/s &Wine or fruit juice—On the altar, the goblets for the Priest and Priestess are placed. The goblets of other celebrants sit on the ground, at their feet. The goblets too may be any vessel you desire.

Statues or pictures to represent deities — it is not entirely necessary, but it is a very good idea to have representations of the deities on your altar. The representations can be all sorts of things that remind you of or that resemble the deities the way you visualize them in your mind. Thus, there are many different depictions of the deities, and you can even get creative and make your very own representations. If you are skilled at sketching, draw pictures of the deities the way you see them in your mind’s eye, or use decoupage and some pictures to make pillars of deities out of wood or even wax. You may even use items that are symbolic, like shells, rocks, plants, etc.

Defining & Preparing a Place of Worship

1. Before doing anything in the room, it is best to begin by cleansing it with a sea salt detergent scrub of the floor and the walls.

2. Perform the initial purification ritual (see Chapter Twelve ’The Initial Purification Ritual’). Both the cleansing ritual and the purification ritual are not necessary if you are fortunate to find a space in nature.

3. Using a compass, establish the room’s alignment. Take note of the directions

4. Place the altar in the middle of the room and set it up so if you stand facing the altar, you are facing east.

5. On the ground, around the altar space, draw a circle (see Chapter Twelve, ’Casting the Sacred Circle)

6. Since the entry and the exit from the Circle will take place from the East side, it is good to plan a bit more room for that side of the altar.

7. In your Temple room you will need storage space for storing incense, candles, wine, charcoal, your tools and your Book. In an ideal situation, you will have open shelving and be able to leave your altar set-up permanently. However, several factors may make this not a feasible option. In this case, whenever you wish to use your altar, simply clear a space in the room (of at least five square feet) and pull up a table of any kind. Most important will be consecrating your Circle.

8. You may now decorate your sacred space as per your individual taste. Use whatever helps you engage, like vivid paintings, neutral colors, or paint the walls to resemble a cave, forest of starry night. There are magickal symbol colors as well, which are green for north, yellow for, red for south and blue for west — though this is usually applied to rooms that are oriented very precisely to these directions.

9. Select a surface to use as an altar (refer to ’Choosing an Altar). Ideally, have a white candle and representations, in the form of statues or pictures, of all the deities on the altar at all times.

Choosing an Altar

Practically any flat surface may be used as an altar, such as a coffee table, a board over bricks, a tree stump, rocks or a box. However, it is best that the altar is made from only non-conductive materials, like stone, gold, silver, brass, wood etc. This is because only the Witch’s sword and knife may be made of a conductive metal like steel or iron.