Written by Algoth’s Grove
“The altar is first in the soul, then in the heart, then in the material, it is only then that the altar can jolt the mind to chant the invocations necessary to bring it to life.”
The Altar in the Wiccan sense is very different from a traditional witch’s altar, and yet, at its core there is no difference at all. When we understand the energies of masculine and feminine and we understand the properties of what our ritual intent is, then the altar really is an intuitive representation of the desired outcome.
When beginning witchcraft, or any of the paths that fall under the pagan umbrella, it is necessary to begin with all the rules and proper placement of an altar. It forms the basis for you to be able to train the mind to one day be confident enough to set up an altar with a simple candle, some twigs or whatever you have at hand. It is, in any form of learning, imperative to start at the very beginning and for this reason we will now discuss the various placements of the basic altar.
Size and shape of the altar
The altar can be on a table, on the ground set up on a ritual cloth. It can be on the dining room table if need be. You can even use a chair if you have no table and lay a cloth on it. Provided, there is enough space on the surface, the size and shape of the foundation for your altar does not matter at all. There is a difference though between a fixed altar and a removable one. The fixed one should never be used for anything besides the altar.
God and Goddess placement
The left hand side has always been associated with the feminine, with the darkness, the unknown, the winter depths and of course The Goddess. For this reason, your statue, candle or other representation of The Goddess should always be on the left hand side of the Altar. The right hand side has always been associated with the masculine, with logic, materialism, reality and of course by default, The God. Again, always place your God statue, or representation, including an inscribed candle or marked object, dedicated to The God, on the right.
For arguments sake, if you are doing a working, ritual or simply setting up your altar to only one deity, your deities representation or dedicated object will be placed in a central position on your altar.
When working with the elementals without a deity, it is generally accepted to place your elemental representations in their specific quarters around your pentacle. This arrangement will change depending on your placement in the northern or Southern Hemisphere. We will outline these placements and quarters below.
The pentacle is placed in the center of the altar. If you do not own a pentacle such as the one in our altar kit, then simply use a sheet of paper with a pentacle drawn on it. The pentacle represents the 4 elements of fire, water, earth and air and when facing with the 5th point upward, represents spirit, if the 5th point of the star is facing toward yourself then it represents man, the flesh, materialism and so forth.
Your feminine tools are placed on the left hand side, such as the bell and the cup or chalice. The masculine tools are placed to the right, boline, athame, bowl of salt, and your wand. To see a list of tools and their gender used in magick see our article here.
Candles are always placed out of dangers way. Almost every practitioner of the occult has a candle-fire-catching story, some are worse than others. It is important to place them as far back from the working space as possible.
Sabbat Altar colours & objects
Yule – Rebirth and Renewal
A small potted plant
Your altar should be filled with reds, yellows and greens.
It is common to have the wheel of the year in place of the pentacle on this Sabbat.
Imbolc – Festival of lights
Your altar should be filled with whites, gentle blue’s and pale greens.
Lots of Candles.
Ostara – The beginning of Spring
Your Cauldron, or a balefire
Your altar should be dressed in complete white.
You can place a potted plant on the altar
Beltane – Fertility
Colours of the altar are still white.
Fresh flowers in abundance.
A mini maypole or 3 plaited ribbons across a stick that has been inscribed.
Mirror, or pieces of mirror.
Litha – Magick & Power
Altar dressed in white.
Mugwort cuttings, or the dried herb or oils.
Mirror pieces to catch the sun / flames from the fire.
Lughnasadh – Thanksgiving & Harvesting
Dress your altar in reds and oranges
Place corn dollies on the altar.
Slices or loaves of different breads.
Grains, nuts, and seeds.
Mabon – Mystery in the ripening of the second harvest
Dress your altar in reds and browns
Place pine cones on the altar
Use acorns, wheat and dried leaves and flowers to adorn the altar and sacred space.
Samhain – Festival of the dead
Dress the altar in red and black
Use Pomegranate seeds.
Use pumpkins, apples, skulls, and place a seat for a beloved one who has passed into the summer-lands.
Send us photographs of your altar setup and let us spread the beauty.
Categories: Theoretical Thursday