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How to Set Up a Wiccan Altar

Updated on June 19, 2013

Wiccan Altars and Witchcraft Supplies

If you are a practicing Wiccan or witch, than you are likely already familiar with what a Wiccan Altar is. If not, a Wiccan altar is a special place, such as a table or a piece of furniture, which is used for placing important symbolic items used for worship, spells, and rituals. There are many choices when it comes to Wiccan altars, and what you choose depends very much on your taste. Usually, a practicing Wiccan will use a cloth on top of the altar to prevent the actual table or altar from getting ruined with candle wax or other by-products such as incense. Here you will find plenty of popular Wiccan items to use on an altar.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Why Have A Wiccan Altar?

A Wiccan altar is used for many reasons, maybe most importantly as a focal point for your faith and devotion. An altar is also a place to put your symbolic worship items. By using an altar, you will make your magic stronger each time you approach it, ready to express the Divine inside of you!

Altar Table

The first thing you'll need is a table which you designate as your altar. You can buy an altar table, or you might already own something suitable, like a nightstand. If you don't think you own anything, check around your house anyway because you might find something you can re-purpose and decorate.

Round Wooden Altar Table: Pentagram 6"
Round Wooden Altar Table: Pentagram 6"

Most altar tables are wooden. You will want to decide if you want a square or round table, natural wood or painted wood, and what design, if any, you'd like displayed on it.

 

Cleansing and Purifying New Altar Tools

When getting a new witchcraft ritual tool, it needs to be cleansed before being used. Once cleansed, you are the only person who should ever touch the tool. There are four ways to cleanse your new tool. Before using one of these cleansing methods, make sure the item won't be harmed by it. For example, you wouldn't choose water as the cleansing method for your altar besom (broom).

  • Running water can be used to cleanse an item. A running river or brook is best but we don't all have access to one. Water from your sink, or cleansed and charged water poured from a pitcher is acceptable. Use cool or room temperature water.
  • Sunlight will cleanse any item, simply leave the item exposed to the sun's rays for about an hour. Be sure your ritual tool won't fade after being exposed to the light.
  • Dry salt is always a good choice for cleansing altar or ritual tools. Cover the item in salt for about an hour, though overnight is also fine.
  • Smoke is an excellent cleanser. Most Wiccans will use sage smoke to cleanse, however if you would like to choose another, more appropriate herb or incense it will work just as well.

Altar Cloth

Next, you'll probably want an altar cloth. When choosing a cloth for your altar, take into consideration the size you want, the color you find most appropriate, and most importantly, what speaks to you. If you've bought a nice altar table, a cloth may not even be something you're interested in. If you're up-cycling an old piece of furniture into a Wiccan altar, you might need a cloth as the finishing touch.

Altar Tarot Cloth: Triple Goddess With Pentagram - 24" x 24" (Gold/Silver on Black Pentacle/Pentagram)
Altar Tarot Cloth: Triple Goddess With Pentagram - 24" x 24" (Gold/Silver on Black Pentacle/Pentagram)

An altar cloth is not only beautiful to look at, but serves a purpose. It will protect your altar from candle wax, incense ash or burns, and any other ritual ingredients which sometimes get messy.

 

Altar Tile

While not necessary, most Wiccans prefer to have at least one altar tile. This can be used to prevent the chalice, herbs, or an incense holder from coming into direct contact with the altar table, even when it is covered with an altar cloth. If you choose not to decorate your altar with a cloth, a tile is a must have for you. If you have a cloth, the altar tile is optional.

3" Pentacle Cut Altar Tile - Color: Silver
3" Pentacle Cut Altar Tile - Color: Silver

Altar tiles can be made of metal, wood, or stone, and come with a variety of witchy designs. A pentacle is the most popular, as it represents the element of Earth.

 

Athame

An athame is a very important magical tool. It is one of four elemental tools, representing the element of fire. An athame is a ceremonial dagger, which a Wiccan or witch uses to channel or direct energy, never to cut anything.

BladesUSA HK-2516 Historical Short Sword 8.25-Inch Overall
BladesUSA HK-2516 Historical Short Sword 8.25-Inch Overall

This beautiful 8.25 inch athame is made of stainless steel and comes with a scabbard. It is a replica of early 19th century athames.

 

Boline

A boline is used for cutting things, usually ritual ingredients. A boline should be used to cut cords, herbs, or to carve a candle. Traditional bolines feature a curved blade and a white handle. You should choose a boline you feel attracted to.

Chalice

A chalice can be used on an altar (it is a goblet) both for ritual drinking and to represent the Goddess. The chalice is the element of water in Wicca. Someone who does not partake in ritual drinking may choose to forgo adding a chalice to their altar.

VERDUGO GIFT CO Royal Dragon Goblet
VERDUGO GIFT CO Royal Dragon Goblet

This bejeweled dragon goblet features a removable stainless steel cup for easy cleaning. The chalice you select should be beautiful to you, so consider if you want resin, steel, or silver and what sort of decoration you would like.

 

Bell

Wiccans ring bells to gain the Goddess's attention and the attention of the Divine, and to cleanse or change energy.

New Age Imports Inc. Altar Bell with Pentagram Design, 3 inches tall
New Age Imports Inc. Altar Bell with Pentagram Design, 3 inches tall

Ringing a bell is not common when casting a spell or doing ritual work, but it may be done before or after the spell. A bell can also be rung between spells and rituals to clear your home or a space in your home of lingering negative energy.

This bell is silver plated, traditional for a Wiccan altar. It has a beautiful and gentle ring which can draw healing energy.

 

Cauldron

The traditional witch's cauldron was cast iron, with three legs. These cauldrons are still popular with Wiccans today and most consider their cauldron a necessary part of their altar set up and an indispensable tool.

New Age Imports Inc. Small Pentagram Cast Iron Cauldron, 3 inches diameter
New Age Imports Inc. Small Pentagram Cast Iron Cauldron, 3 inches diameter

This cauldron is both cast iron and three legged, fitting with tradition. It can be used to burn herbs or incense during spell work, or even small pieces of paper. Many Wiccans will actually brew up food or drink in a large cauldron, for consumption. This cauldron is small sized for your altar table.

 

Chime Candle Holders

Chime candle holders are great to have an altar as most Wiccans will use chime candles to complete the majority of their candle magic spells. They are small, just large enough to balance a chime candle, and that means they don't take up unnecessary space. They also tend to be inexpensive, so a witch can buy a variety of them for different uses if she wished.

AzureGreen CH40BS Cobalt Ceramic Starry Chime Holder
AzureGreen CH40BS Cobalt Ceramic Starry Chime Holder

These are my new favorite chime candle holders. I love that they remind me of the night. Common chime candle holders are ceramic white, sometimes with a Goddess symbol or pentacle design.

 

Censer

A censer is used to burn incense or herbs during spell or ritual work. It is an essential tool of witchcraft and necessary item for any Wiccan altar. A censer should be hung or carried around the room to dispense its smoke. It can also be placed on the altar (this is where you would need an altar tile).

Brass Hanging Censer Burner (Set of 4)
Brass Hanging Censer Burner (Set of 4)

Censers can be made of many different materials, and be careful to select a censer that will be capable of safely burning incense, incense cones, charcoal, and herbs. Brass censers are very popular, and usually have small chains attached to make carrying easy.

 

Altar Besom

An altar besom is a small broom kept on, or near, the altar. I personally keep mine next to the altar, never on it. A besom is used to clear energy and to cast circles.

Taking Care of Your Altar

Taking care of your Wiccan altar is very important, as it is a reflection of you and your inner faith. If you feel troubled or not at ease, you can add something new to your altar. Another way to help yourself get out of a difficult situation is by cleaning your altar and placing loving care and attention on it. By doing this, you are reaffirming your devotion and reminding yourself of the goddess within!

What else would you put on an altar?

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