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Setting Up Your Magical Altar

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How to Set Up Your Magical Altar
Setting Up Your Magical Altar

This basic altar setup is a good framework for ritual work.

Image © Patti Wigington 2008

So you've decided to perform your first ritual, and you're setting up an altar. Great! Now what?

It's actually pretty simple to set up a basic altar. You'll probably want to include a few things, like your magical tools, but ultimately the altar should be about functionality. It needs to be set up to help you achieve your goal. Here are the things that most traditions of Wicca and Paganism include on altars.

  • Symbols of the four classical elements. Typically, these are aligned with the four cardinal directions. Use a bowl of dirt or sand in the north aspect of your altar to represent earth, a stick of incense in the east can symbolize air, a candle or charcoal in the south for fire, and water in the west.
  • Candles. You can add a goddess candle and a god candle if your tradition calls for them, or you can use candles representing the four directions. Be sure to have a lighter or matches handy.
  • The athame. Most Wiccans and Pagans use an athame in ritual, so you can place one on your altar.
  • The wand. The wand is used to direct energy, so if you use one, keep it on your altar.
  • Your Book of Shadows, or BOS. If you're going to be doing rituals, it's helpful to keep this on hand.

Add other items as needed, and as space allows. You can include whatever spell components you need, cakes and ale, and more. If you're celebrating a sabbat, you can decorate your altar for the season as well. Regardless, make sure your altar contains all you need for effective ritual work, BEFORE you begin your ceremony.

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