An altar is a sacred place; one where you can honor the deities you follow and work some of your most powerful magick. So it is imperative that your altar fits you almost perfectly, and fulfills your needs. When deciding upon how you are going to create your altar there are many things to consider. I would suggest making a list of the qualities you would want in an Altar, such as do you want a large work space, does it need to be portable, can you keep it set up or does it need to be stored when not in use, do you want storage, etc? As a note, there is a difference between 'alter' (spelled with an 'e') and 'altar' (spelled with an 'a'). An altar is a religious structure, while alter means to change.
Finding An Altar
After you have completed your wish list, it’s time to look for something that will satisfy the majority of your needs. I would advise you to first look through nature to find what you need. One of the simplest altars, and sometimes the best, are large stones. Although primitive, they give you a sturdy work surface and express the simplistic beauty of nature. If stones aren’t for you, try finding a long strip of bark or a stump to use.
If you prefer something a little bit more advanced, you could use the dinning room table in your house, a folding table, a blanket, a yoga mat, etc. Really anything that you already have or that is cheap and easy to purchase. If you have some more expensive tastes, you could look at purchasing an altar such as a desk, dresser, wardrobe, night stand; really any furniture. You could also buy a pre-made altar table from an occult store.
As a note, when you are looking for your altar you might want to incorporate wood and color correspondences if that is something you are willing to do. Furthermore, some people say that your altar should face a certain direction but since it is your altar, I believe you should choose whatever feels right to you or fits your circumstances. Also, typically your altar is meant just for your magical workings, however, if your altar is the kitchen table then obviously it will be used for other things as well. This just means you’ll have to cleanse and clean up your area more.
Decorating Your Altar
Once you have your alter, you can now decorate it to express yourself and provide a place for your magical supplies. If you are resourceful then I would suggest slowly accumulating items for your alter throughout your path. For example, my aunt gave me small animal statues that came in her tea boxes, and I put them on my alter to represent spirit animals. Much less expensive than the animal totems you can find in occult stores, yet just as functional. A great way to get supplies is by browsing your local thrift & dollar stores; I guarantee you will find something useful. Although nothing is required for your alter, I would say that you should eventually aim to have:
- An altar cloth (You can just get a normal table cover and draw symbols on it)
- Statues or Symbols (You can use modeling clay)
- Some tools (An Athame, Besom, Candles, Pentacle Tile, Chalice, Bell, Wand, etc.)
- Mundane tools (A lighter, wet cloth for cleaning spills, etc.)
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