I have a lot of supplies I use in spellwork. I'm trying to figure out if I need to keep them all on my altar all the time. It's starting to look kind of cluttered around here.
You've just gotten the coolest athame in the world, you found a great deal on a bulk order of herbs, four people gifted you with Tarot cards, and grandma heard you like candles so she gave you a dozen. That's great!
Except now you have a small dilemma. All that stuff doesn't fit on your altar. You'd like to do a ritual, or a spell working, and there's stuff everywhere. What do you do now?
Ideally, you'll want to have a cabinet or chest or some sort of storage place. When it comes to placing things on your altar, trust me, less is better. Put everything away except for a few things -- you don't need EVERY herb and stone you own sitting on your altar 24 hours a day.
When you do get around to using them, where do you put them? Are they supposed to be arranged a certain way on the altar? In a perfect world, everything would come with instructions. But in Wicca, where so much of it varies from one tradition to the next, a lot of it relies on your own intuition. Unless you are part of a tradition that says "You MUST place the stones in a counterclockwise circle seven inches in diameter, to the left of a blue candle, in alphabetical order", then you usually don't have to worry about it.
Sometimes, in a spell, placement of a stone or other ingredient is specific, but in these cases, it will tell you why -- for instance, it might say, "Place the Topaz in the south section of your altar to represent Fire." Otherwise, I find that keeping it simple, and putting stuff where I can REACH it is what really counts. Nothing is worse than having to interrupt a working because you set your sleeve on fire reaching over a candle for a bit of quartz.
Ideally, what I try to do -- and this is because I've been practicing for over twenty years and have amassed a HUGE collection of supplies -- is prior to a working, I gather up everything I need. Think of it like a chef setting up a mise en place station - everything in its place. I put those things on my altar table or workspace, and leave everything else behind. It's kind of like serving your family a meal -- you might have seven different kinds of salad dressings, but if you know everyone wants Ranch, then why get out the Italian, Blue Cheese, and Garlicky Vinaigrette?