Updated: Aug 19, 2021
Do I need an Altar to Practice Witchcraft
No, you do not need to make an altar to practice witchcraft. If you are a new witch, I suggest you create an Altar, but it is not a requirement.
Altars are like many other things in witchcraft. There is no fundamental law or leader that can decide your path for you. Now that’s different if you’re initiating into a strict coven as there will most likely be rules meant to be followed.
I believe you should create an altar because it is an intentional act that helps make your space more sacred. It will give you a place to focus, grow, and learn your craft. If those reasons are not good enough for you, imagine how fun it will be to decorate it.
What Do I Need to Add to My Altar
It will depend on what you plan to use the altar for. Are you using it for Wiccan holidays like the Summer Solstice? During the Summer Solstice, your altar cloth should be white, and you would want to decorate the altar with summer flowers and anything else that symbolizes Summer. Certain Wiccan traditions may have different colors, but universally, the altar will usually be decorated to represent the time of year.
If you practice witchcraft but do not follow the Wiccan religion, you will have a lot less guidance on what to put on your altar.
Consider adding the following items to your altar: candles, herbs, plants, statues, incense, books, crystals, water, and magickal tools like an athame, chalice, or wand.
When it comes to decorating your altar, remember it is your sacred space, you should use your intuition and go with what you feel is right for you. Your altar should not look the same as someone else's. Everyone is unique and will have a different altar.
Keeping the idea of being unique in mind, I want to show you some altars that a few witches were kind enough to share with new witches.
Hopefully, those examples have given you a better idea of how unique everyone's altar is.
What Should I Avoid Adding to My Altar
The only item I would recommend to avoid adding to your altar are items with magickal attributes of purification. That is only if you plan to keep magickally charged objects at your altar.
An example of what I mean is if you have a charged crystal or maybe some moon water at your altar, and you place it near a jar of basil (which has magickal attributes of purification). There is a risk that the basil will purify your magickally charged items.
I store items that have magickal associations with purification in a separate space away from my altar.
This is just my recommendation. I know witches who do not do this and claim it does not affect their magickally charged items.
Are Altar Boxes a Good Idea
Yes, I believe having an altar box is a good idea. Altar boxes can be used for storing items, and you can use them as a portable altar. I like to take mine with me when traveling and plan to be gone for a little while.
You have a couple of options when it comes to getting an altar box. You can carve one out of wood, make it out of an old chest, or use a small suitcase. You can also purchase one from an occult shop, Etsy, or a different online retailer.
I found my current altar box at a garage sale. It was an old chest that I repaired and decorated to my liking.
An altar box is not required, and if you are new, it is not something you will need right away.
Is it Safe to Show Others My Altar
If you search online forms and groups of new witches long enough, you will eventually run into someone claiming that "if you show someone a picture of your altar, they will be able to attack you using the photograph of your altar."
Is this true? I know many witches who believe it, and many do not believe a photograph of your altar can lead to an attack. Personally, I do not think this to be true.
I believe this fear of not showing others your altar is from the past. Witchcraft has only recently become legal in certain countries. Before that, if you showed someone your altar, you would be risking being put in prison or worse.
How to Make an Altar
Start by settling on the space you will utilize. You need an empty surface at a minimum, and preferably it should be somewhere out of the way of household traffic to permit you to focus without distractions and interruptions.
Your sacred space should have adequate ventilation when you burn or smoke ingredients (a window or fan should work). Make sure your safe and do not put yourself in the situation of being overwhelmed by fumes.
It's beneficial to have a bookshelf for your important texts and grimoires/book of shadows, and a cabinet or shelves for your ingredients, crystals, and candles.
Of course, if you do not have space in your home for a table, desk, or bookshelf, a countertop, dresser, or even a window sill can work. Be creative and use whatever space you have available.
Once you have selected your altar's location, you should cleanse it by smudging the entire room. Remember, this place should be sacred, so you want to keep out negative energy.
Now that your sacred space is cleansed, consider adding protection magick to the room. Some examples could be putting a protection sigil or protection spell jar in the room to keep out negative energy. Even with these added protections, you should routinely cleanse your space of negative energy.
It's time to decorate your altar!!! This is definitely my favorite part of making a new altar. The best advice I have for decorating is to add an altar cloth.
Altar cloths have multiple purposes. The first is obvious – it protects the surface underneath and makes the area simpler to keep clean. An altar cloth can be printed or embroidered with symbology to enhance your rituals and indicate where to place certain items during a ritual.
Here are some more examples of altars to get your creative juices flowing.
The one item I can not stress enough is your altar is your sacred space. Make it the way you feel it should be.
Now that you know how to make an altar, go ahead and give it a try. I would love to hear how your altar turned out in the comment section below; if you have any questions, feel free to comment or send me an email.