You are here: Home > Articles > Altar Requirements

Go to Article Home Page

ALTAR REQUIREMENTS

Many people live in small apartments or have roommates. Maybe you donít have an extra room in your house to devote to a home temple. How can you set up a magickal area when you donít have a lot of extra space where you live? What is required on your altar? It doesnít have to be a problem. You don't really have to have a lot of extra space for your altar or magickal working space. You can create a small altar in your bedroom for a specific ritual that you then dismantle when you're finished. Or, if you have privacy in your room, you can keep a small permanent altar that you keep your basic tools on most of the time but change out the altar cloths and specific tools or implements as you perform different rituals.

For the altar itself, you can use a night stand or you can purchase a small table with a 14" to 18" square top. A night stand is handy as they often have a drawer or a shelf in which you can store your candles, matches, incenses and such. If you can leave your altar out in your bedroom so much the better, but if your roommate is nosey you can make space in your closet and scoot the altar in there for storage when you're not using it. You could also store all your tools in a box or on a shelf in your closet when you're not using them and just keep the altar out with a vase of flowers or something on it so it looks innocuous.

In terms of your altar supplies, you'll want to have at least one altar cloth to cover the top of your altar. Basic black is a good color choice for your general altar cover as it doesnít show wear and tear (as well as melted wax) too easily. I like to cover my altar in a color which corresponds to the magick I'm doing for a particular ritual so I go to the fabric store and buy different color cloths to have on hand. A piece that is 36" long by 36" wide is perfect. You'll need four to six candle holders, a candle snuffer and a small box (about 4" by 6") to store your matches, incense, incense spoon and charcoal. You probably won't always need all of the candle holders all the time, but there may be rituals you do from time to time that require 6 or so.

Each time you set up your altar you'll want your basic elemental tools - Chalice, Athame, Pentacle and Wand as well as an incense burner, incense spoon and two small containers for your salt and incense. If you have room on your altar, you may want to have a statue of the God and the Goddess. If you make a trip to your local hobby/craft store, whenever you see things that will work to beautify your altar, get them as your budget allows. Small containers for your salt and incense for example - soft-poached egg holders or miniature ramekins work great for this. The next time you go to the grocery store, pick up a gallon of spring water so you always have it on hand.

You can set up your altar any way that pleases you as long as you'll have all the tools you need for the ritual you're doing. Traditionally speaking, you'll place your pentacle on the north side of your altar, your wand and incense burner on the east side, your athame at the south side and your chalice on the west side. Place a small dish of salt in front of the chalice along with your asperger (tool you use to sprinkle the water in circle cleansings). Place a small dish with your incense in front of your burner along with your incense spoon (baby spoons work well for this). Many people keep a candle for the God and a candle for the Goddess on their altar in addition to any they are using for their spell work and these candles are usually set toward the edge away from you on the altar so that you won't burn yourself with their flames.

If you have the luxury of leaving your altar set up all the time you might want to consider changing it with the seasons to commemorate each Sabbat and the turning of the Wheel of the Year. Beautiful autumn leaves and pine cones with black candles during Samhain look lovely, then you can leave the pine cones and add holly and mistletoe with gold candles (and maybe a string of gold stars) at Yule. Try some fresh smelling pine boughs, white candles and white gauzy ribbon at Candlemas then a small pot of violets, green candles and pastel ribbons during Ostara. At Beltane, add a vase of cut flowers from your garden along with some pussy willow and some pink candles changing to marigolds, yellow candles and a gold sun from a craft store when Summer Solstice arrives. At Lughnassadh, change to orange candles and add some vegetables from your garden following with apples, chrysanthemums and crimson candles at Mabon. Or, if you have a fireplace with a mantle, you could use the mantle as your Wheel of the Year altar and save your main altar for ritual alone. Use your imagination and have some fun!