Altars can be seen throughout history and faith systems. An altar can be seen as many different things and used for many different purposes, today we’re going to explore how they can be used by witches and pagans.
What is an Altar?
In short, an altar is a sacred space dedicated to your practice.
Altars can be temporary or permanent, inside or outside, large or small spaces. The important thing is the intent behind them.
An altar can be used for many different purposes. Many people use them as a space dedicated to honoring and praying to deities or ancestors. For many witches an altar is a space to do spell and ritual work.
You can also have altar spaces for specific purposes such as bringing in abundance, fertility, creative inspiration, and anything else you may want to work towards for a length of time and dedicate a space for.
How to create one
There is no set way to create an altar. Just as with anything else, there are many different approaches and everyone does things a little differently.
A great way to start is to find a space you like. Consider how easy it is to access if you plan on spending time there daily, but also keep in mind that you may not want it too accessible if it is only for you.
Some great options for altar spaces include desks (either a whole one or just part of one), shelves, windowsills (just be careful about what gets left in sunlight), small tables or nightstands, even entertainment stands. The possibilities are endless and you can take up as much or as little space as you can or want.
Once you choose your space you’ll want to physically clean it, then cleanse it using whatever method you prefer.
From there you can choose to use an altar cloth if you like or keep the surface bare. Then place whatever items on your altar you feel called to!
Many people will put candles, tools, representation of elements, deity statues, divination tools, crystals, and even seasonal decorations on their altar.
Most importantly, it’s your space and (in most cases) there aren’t really any rules, so use it as you see fit!
Can you have more than one altar?
Having multiple altars can actually help to clarify their intent and purpose as well as prevent them from being cluttered with too many things.
This could look like a household altar that everyone spends time at, a personal altar, a kitchen altar, and an ancestor altar. They all serve a very different purpose and have unique energies to them.
You could set up a special altar for something you are focusing on, a temporary altar somewhere for a ritual, or an altar that is specifically for deity worship. Some deities even request or require an altar dedicated just to them!
So yes, you can most definitely have more than one altar and it can actually be very beneficial to your practice!
Maintaining your altar
One of the most important things about altars is maintaining them. Maintaining your altar helps to keep the energy from getting stagnant, keeps any deities you may work with happy, and is a great way to stay consistent with your practice.
As with just about everything else, there are many ways to do this.
Simply spending time at your altar every day is a way to maintain it energetically. Part of your daily time can also be tidying it to make sure it doesn’t become disorganized or cluttered.
Periodically cleaning, rearranging, and refreshing your altar and the objects you keep on it can also be helpful. Many people like to redecorate their altars with the change of seasons or for Sabbats.
Don’t be afraid to set boundaries when it comes to who can touch your altar. Likewise, respect others’ boundaries and always ask before touching anyone else’s altar or the items on it.