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Setting Up a Witch's Altar (for the First Time)

Updated: Dec 28, 2022


A chalice, wand, bowl of offering herbs and several candles, a bell and anointing oil on a simple, wooden altar.
A basic Witch's altar

I was asked recently by one of my customers, how long I have been practicing, whether I practiced Wicca, and how to set up an altar. Lots to unpack there, but I thought I'd get back to writing and get a post up.


Am I Wiccan?


I do not practice Wicca. What I practice is solitary, and more of an eclectic mix, taking bits from here and there. My understanding of Wicca is limited, and as such I do not pretend to give advice on creating Wiccan altar space. There are far better writers and teachers out there who can give you detailed information on Wicca! I'll like to a couple of books at the end I think are from reputable authors.


How long have I been practicing?


I sat down and figured out it is around 46 years! I first began my exploration of Witchcraft when I was about 12 years old. That was when I started reading whatever I could find, and that wasn't a lot. That was the 1970's and while there were a few authors out there, there were a ton of people writing pure crap too. It took time for me to find my path. I tried going to a Synagogue, a Mosque, a Buddhist Temple...I read about Hinduism and Taoism...and everywhere I studied, I found little pieces of what would become my own path. The version of Witchcraft I practice today has evolved, but the foundations were established by say the 1990's.


How to Set Up a Witch's Altar


So all that brings me to the real question: are there hard rules about setting up an altar? Does it have to be a certain way to "work"? Does magic require a specific series of steps, like in the movies, to be successful? The simple answer, in my opinion, is no. I have many friends who practice Witchcraft, and each of them is unique and their practice is a +reflection of their own special personality and spirit. Below are some ideas for altars you could set up for different types of Witchcraft. Some are for Deity (Pagan), some are not. Some observe formal rules, some do not.


Some Advice from a Crone:


Try not to get too mired down in dogma. Magic and Witchcraft are an expression of your unique 'voice' and spirit. Let that special light shine into the world and don't try to hold it down with too many rules. Your heart and spirit make the magic real - so let them soar!Below are some resources. Lots of Youtube channels I love, several books. I hope they are useful as you travel your path. Be patient, no matter how old you are when you start this journey, time is required to find YOUR way. But you will, find your own way. And it will be glorious, I promise.

Bright blessings,

Alison


GREEN WITCHCRAFT


A Green Witch is one who is informed and compelled to follow the patch of nature. A green witch may spend many of their days walking in nature, watching stars, breathing in the salt of the sea or gardening. You can be a green witch AND Wiccan. Or you can be a green witch who is eclectic. Honestly, you can be whatever you are called to be.

Green Altar Ideas: Put one pretty candle in the middle of a flat stone or small table. Put flowers you picked in a small container, or weave them into a crown or garland as an offering. Gather stones, pieces of fallen wood, flowers and leaves from plants for your woodland altar. You can also do this indoors.


KITCHEN WITCHCRAFT


A Kitchen Witch is one who is inspired by their kitchen. They cook magic into their food, brew it into their tea, and concoct potions and miraculous mixes of all kinds using plants, food, herbs and spices. They may have Green leanings, and enjoy working with herbalism, or perhaps it is really just the kitchen itself and the acts surrounding food that they use.

Kitchen Altar Ideas: Put a few little items on a table or windowsill. Include a candle and maybe some stones, possible a statue or other item dedicated to deity. Keep it simple. Think about mindful practice in your daily life.


ECLECTIC WITCHCRAFT


Eclectic Altar Ideas: The image above is one of my altars. They change. And I have as many as 3 at a time in different areas of my home. One to Aphrodite for love. One to Tyche/Fortuna for prosperity. The Goddess pictured above is one I love, and have had for many years. I love the look on her face, and the crescent moon she sits on.

My altar to Tyche/Fortuna is shown to the right, set up for a full moon in the late Winter. As the seasons change, I add seasonal flowers, fruit, and other things to the altars.



My Altar to Fortuna, Goddess of Abundance


I generally have a lot of little stones and crystals, and sometimes some large ones on my altars. I use small offering bowls to put out herbs and flowers sacred to the work I am doing. I use anointing oils made with intention to consecrate the tools I use. I don't use a lot of tools. I cast my circle with my hands, because I have reached a place where I feel the power is coming from me, not from a wand or knife. I do, in some cases, put a chalice of water or wine on my altar for some work.Another possibility is to not really have an altar. Set up what you need, when you want it set up. For many, having an altar set up permanently isn't possible. If you're in the "broom closet" you will know what I mean.

To the right is my coffee table before the full moon last month. I had several things set out to use after my full moon ritual.

All you really need is your own Will. Anything you use to access your concentration and push your Will into the material world, is how You make magic. And the way you make magic is perfect for you. WICCA


I am not an expert about Wicca, so instead of trying to write about it, here are a few books by authors I know are lovely. The books are Amazon links - not affiliate links - just easy to find the books there.


Wicca Practical Magic: Getting Started with Magical Herbs, Oils, and Crystals, by Patti Wigington

Wicca: A Modern Guide to Witchcraft and Magick, by Harmony Nice - I haven't read this, but I have seen her YouTube channel and she is well regarded in the Wiccan community.

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, by Scott Cunningham - This is an older book, but Scott Cunningham is considered a classic author who has always been well respected.


AND...a few other books and videos:


Moon Spells: How to Use the Phases of the Moon to Get What You Want, by Diane Ahlquist

Celtic Magic (Llewellyn's World Religion & Magick), by DJ Conway - this I have read and own. I liked it, although it has been many years.


One book I think would be excellent for anyone starting out, is: Llewellyn's Complete Book of Correspondences: A Comprehensive & Cross-Referenced Resource for Pagans & Wiccans (Llewellyn's Complete Book Series (4)) This book has a wealth of information on the stones, plants, oils and flowers associated with planets, gender and specific deity. It is a treasure trove of information to start any new Witch on their way. I use it all the time, still!


Resources:


Green Witchcraft: On Youtube, Annie will guide you gently through her green magic with Kitchen magic overtones on the channel: The Green Witch


I have heard this book mentioned a lot, so linking it here for anyone looking for titles on Green Witchcraft: The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More, by Arin Murphy-Hiscock


Kitchen Witchcraft:


If I find a good book, I'll link it here. If you know of one, please comment!


Eclectic Witchcraft:


One of my favorite Youtube channels is Mickie Mueller's. She does some wonderful guided meditations, and covers a variety of simple, common sense spells using only materials you can find around your own home.


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