Altars often get this reputation of having to be big beautiful ritual spaces. They are centerpieces, or entire rooms full of magick and intention. It can be so satisfying to put something like that together, but if you do not feel called to do so or even have the energy to upkeep it, that is totally okay.
You do not have to have an altar. Unless you are committed to following a very specific path, there are no rules to what your practice must look like. Altars are a common way to assist with creating a sacred space or getting your mind and body into a space for magick making.
If you’re looking for a starting point to build an altar, I suggest using pieces of your practice that you have been using consistently or felt strongly connected too. For me, that was initially my favorite tarot deck, a little journal I had been keeping, and my sage and matches. That was it and that’s all it has to be at its core. My altar space has grown as I have and will continue to do so. Your altar should be a space that you feel at peace with. This should be a space that you frequent and it should portray the energy that you need at the time.
Pinterest is a great place to get ideas on creating sacred space. From inspiration, to layouts, to tool layouts, it’s all there. I’ve pinned some of my favorites here. I should note that Wiccan paths in particular can be quite serious about their altars. Every piece has a very specific purpose and placement on your altar. I highly recommend looking into Raymond Buckland’s Big Blue Book if you are interested in pursuing a Wiccan path.\
If you like the idea of carrying sacred space with you – make a pocket altar! A tarot bag or Altoid tin are perfect for this. This will vary based on your needs, but a few key pieces to include could be a tea light, a small vial of salt, sage or palo santo, and matches are the perfect starting point. I’ve pinned some inspiration for these as well. These are great to have if you feel called to practice suddenly or while outside in nature.
If you’re still stuck, here are some quick questions to help you nail down what you may want to include:
– What element do you feel most drawn too at this moment? How can you include it?
Fire: Candles, or melting wax (if you can’t really have an open flame)
Water: natural water or salt water, snow water, water from the tap
Earth: Salt, bark, flowers (dried or fresh)
Air: Incense, oil diffuser, bells, chimes or other noise
– What tools (if any) do you find yourself reaching for right now?
– What crystals do you enjoy? Are there any in particular you wish to use in channeling energy?
– Is there something or someone in particular that you would like to honor with your altar? What are their associated symbols, colors, foods, etc? Even if you only have one or two pieces that can be specifically tied to them, by placing them with pure intention, you give them great power in your space.