“An altar can be as simple as a space with a few things that make you happy, where you can reflect and give thanks, which in return inspires you to keep growing towards a better you.”
You could say that a witch’s “office” would be her altar, even if it doesn’t take up an entire room. They keep her resources safe and close at hand, they hold and project her intentions after rituals, they are the very foundation of important magickal events.
Altars are my most favorite tool of the Craft, mostly because of the creative aspect but for many other reasons too. Not only can they look however we want them to, but they give us a sense of self when it comes to our spiritual side, a physical anchor for higher work as well as keeping the tools we need nearby. They help to keep us grounded during spiritual journeys, whether its meditation or manifestation that we’re trying to achieve. They offer us our own sacred space, even for a moment, where we can shed all of the things that weigh on us throughout the day.
Even if it’s in a room that is cluttered with kid’s toys and laundry, an altar of any size is a way of carving out our own sacred space. Sometimes they’re beautiful and intricate and sometimes, as in my case, they’re kind of messy and interesting.
No matter what they look like, even a non-witch can see an altar and know that magic happens there. (Although they don’t always know it’s best not to touch someone else’s altar.)
I’ve managed to incorporate mine into my daily routine, which has really brought benefits for my family and myself. I find it easier to get through my day as a mom at home if I feel grounded and centered and most of the time, I find that peace at my altar. Here are some tips to help you use your own altar to add some magick to your routine:
Create an altar in every room that you spend the most time in, even if it has to be really small.
Personally, I am either in the living room, where I have my main altar and a smaller altar along a windowsill, the kitchen, where I keep one very small corner altar due to very little counter space, or my studio, where I keep a mobile altar and a stationary altar that doubles as an apothecary. I don’t get to utilize my bedroom as much as I’d like to but I even have a tiny altar space on my dresser for emergency uses. This includes:
• a plain white candle (White candles can be used to substitute for any color candle needed for specific spells or rituals)
• a Kyanite crystal that I’ve designated as my “bedroom crystal”
• a spell satchet with a few choice flowers and herbs for warding off nightmares and insomnia
• a half-burned Palo Santo Wood stick
• and a little metallic ceramic pineapple dish that I found at a dollar store.
Simple, yet effective.
My main altar is in my living room and it’s my most extensive. (It takes up the top two shelves of an entire book case.) A lot of my spell work happens standing in front of it so I keep my most important tools there. I can accomplish a good bit of magick there while my kids run around my legs.
Being of Celtic and Norwegian descent, that is my foundation. But I believe that magick spans all cultures and all religions, and I tend to use many methods from all over the world when it comes to my own craft. My main altar speaks to this, as it includes:
• a Tibetan singing bowl for sound healing and cleansing
• hand-written journals of spells and rituals for easy reference and a Welsh cookbook that I inherited through family
• a few Day of the Dead figurines
• brightly colored scarves
• a variety of essential oils
• a Himalayan Salt lamp diffuser
• LOTS of crystals
• multiple smudge sticks and incense sticks
• a variety of candles and candlesticks
• all of the rocks my kids have ever collected for me
• a Chinese prosperity cat figurine
• a handmade llama doll from Guatemala
• spell bottles
• an antique teapot that I inherited
I’m sure you get the idea.
The altar in my studio is used for more intimate, personal rituals that I need space and silence for. It has all of the necessities but not nearly as many as my main altar. I actually created this altar on a serving tray so that I can move it around as needed, which brings me to my next tip.
Keep a small mobile altar and/or crystal grid in a convenient spot for quick rituals and meditation.
As much as I love my main altar and its stability, I actually prefer the one I keep in my studio because of its convenience and efficiency. Having an altar on a serving tray with handles enables me to take it anywhere that I feel like doing magick, and it keeps more of my important tools and ingredients close at hand.
Being a green witch, this is incredibly useful because most of my rituals and spell work are done outdoors. I’ll plan a ritual a week ahead of time and spend that week adding the tools and ingredients for my spell or ritual to the tray so that I know I have everything I need when it’s time to do my ritual.
The same goes for my mobile crystal grid plate. This is so helpful when the day is hectic and my kids are running circles around my legs and saying “mom” every five seconds. I purchased a small decorative wall hanging I found in the clearance section at Hobby Lobby that is perfect for crystal grids and easy to place out of reach. (I keep it on one of the shelves of my main altar.)
It has a mirror inlay to magnify the energy of the crystals and the flower of life design is perfect for holding tiny crystals in place but keeping them clearly in view. You can find all kinds of things like this, especially on sale, if you keep an eye out for them.
You don’t have to have something fancy though. Try keeping a small box of the crystals you use for gridding nearby and use them to make a grid on your kitchen counter while the kids are eating breakfast. Or on your bed while they’re chasing each other around your bedroom. Obviously these are examples for those with children but it still works for childless people with busy schedules.
Keep whole Bay leaves on all of your altars for quick manifestation spells.
Bay leaves are such an underrated tool for your altar. Keep a pen, a few whole leaves, some matches or a lighter, and a heat safe plate or vessel on each altar for those times you need manifestation quickly.
Write your intention on the leaf as you visualize it in your mind’s eye, then carefully light one end and visualize your intention being released into the universe with the smoke from the flame. Let it burn on the plate or in the vessel until it completely burns away, inhaling the smoke and continuing to visualize your intention, and then say “And so it is.” Your intention is set and manifestation is now working in your favor. This is perfect for setting intentions every morning or night before bed without sacrificing too much time on a ritual.
A quick example of how this method can benefit you… personally, I have social anxiety. When I know I’m about to head into a social situation that might be difficult for me, I stand at my altar and visualize myself having an easy, open conversation with strangers. Then I write “calm and content” or “social butterfly” on a Bay Leaf because these two things can help me feel grounded during stressful circumstances. I find it much easier to center myself in the company of others when I’ve performed this quick ritual beforehand.
Use a big table candle on your altar for residual spells.
This may work better for me than others as I am almost always home and can safely let a candle burn for hours. I do not recommend this tip unless you are able to check on your candle often while it burns.
Candle spells can be very detailed, intricate affairs with many ingredients and pages of incantations, but they can also be very easy and simple, and with a few ingredients that are probably in your kitchen pantry.
If you have the space on your altar, find one of those chunky table candles that are wide and flat on top. You can choose scented or unscented depending on your taste and virtually any color you can think of. Try researching candle magick and color correspondences if you have a specific situation you need assistance with.
These candles tend to create rivers of wax after they’ve burned for a while so I’d suggest a shallow bowl or a plate with a rim to contain the melted wax. Occasionally I use a mirrored plate because the energy and intentions that I put into my spell are immediately reflected back into the Universe but you can use almost any dish.
Decide on your intention and choose your ingredients either intuitively or by doing a little research on divination with herbs. Basically, you just want a few dry herbs that promote your intention to sprinkle over your candle.
Here is a short list to help get you started:
- Nutmeg – Clairvoyance, Visions, Luck, Love, & Money
- Clove – Cleansing, Dispels negativity, Enhances prosperity & divination
- Cinnamon – Spirituality, Psychic Abilities, Love & lust
- Allspice – Healing, Energy, Abundance, Prosperity
- Thyme – Invigorating, Relief from grief and loss, Inspiration to try new things
- Basil – Domestic harmony, Home protection, Warding off negative influences
- Rosemary – Cleansing, Purifying, Matters of the Heart
- Sage – Purification, Consecrate magickal tools and spaces, Banish negative energies
- Dill – Protection, Luck, Money, & Lust
- Lavender – Anxiety & emotional stress relief, Dreams, Mood stabilizer
- Paprika – Adds an extra boost to any magickal working
- Jasmine – Friendship, Lunar Magick, Inner Peace
- Rose Petals – Romantic and self love, Passion, Self-Esteem
- Chamomile – Money & luck, Reversing hexes, Masculine energy
- Cayenne Pepper – Speeds things up, Helps deal with separation
- Ginger – Adds strength to magickal workings, Draws new experiences
- Parsley – Divination, Protection, Psychic advancement
- Oregano – Joy, Strength, Vitality, Energy
- Peppermint – Cleansing, Brings change, Abundance & wishes, Peaceful sleep
- Black Pepper – Banishing negativity, Warding off evil, Protection
Light your candle first and set it on its plate, and be incredibly careful with this next part because you’ll be sprinkling dry ingredients over an open flame and sometimes they can ignite briefly in the air, which definitely adds to the magick of this spell but can burn you if it lands on your hand. It’s best to keep your hand about 6” away from the flame and try to sprinkle your herbs from the side instead of directly over the candle.
This candle spell is basically the same process as filling a spell bottle, except you’re adding your ingredients and intentions directly to the candle. After the flame is steady, sprinkle just a pinch or two of each ingredient you’ve chosen and repeat your intention each time, while still visualizing it in your mind’s eye. The goal is to set and promote that intention with each ingredient.
Once you’ve completed all of your ingredients, place a couple of chosen crystals around the base of your candle if you’d like and allow it to burn for a minimum of one hour if possible, however the length of time is really up to you.
You can also further project your intention by taking a Clear Quartz or Selenite crystal and drawing an invisible circle clockwise around your candle. Finish your candle spell by saying or thinking clearly “And so it is.”
Charge your favorite lip balm and essential oil on your altar in a bowl with salt and crystals.
Because your altar holds and projects energy even when it’s not in use, it can also charge and cleanse your spiritual tools and even items such as essential oil vials, makeup, facial rollers, lotions and serums, lip balm, and more. Charging every day items with intentions can add an extra element of protection or manifestation to your day.
Find a dish or bowl with sentimental value and fill it about a third of the way with Himalayan Salt (or any salt of preference) and place a few crystals in it. Set an intention for your dish such as “compassion, beauty, and kindness” and place your chosen items in the middle of the salt. Push them into the salt just a little but don’t bury them. Return them to their place after use to charge and absorb your intentions.
As you can see, you can do so much more with your altar than you might think. Try working its magick into your every day life, even in stolen moments here and there. You will certainly see a shift in energy and vibration within yourself and those around you.
Happy journeys! 🌙