When you think of the word altar, your mind might jump to a starchy religious display topped with pillar candles in a cold, musty church. But a Wiccan altar or pagan altar pre-dates those you find in churches today. These altars are also known as witches’ altars.
What is a witch altar?
Traditionally, witches would worship the Goddess, say prayers, cast spells, meditate, and read tarot cards in these sacred spaces. But you don’t have to be a practicing witch to create a witch altar. Your sacred altar could simply be a visual representation of your dreams, beliefs, and intentions—the energy and life you’re calling in.
It’s a beautiful place to anchor yourself throughout the day and build your daily practice around whatever that looks like for you. Do your morning ritual or evening ritual at your altar, meditate, practice yoga, have a full moon ritual, or simply sit and breathe in some stillness here. This is where you reconnect with yourself, unite your body, mind, and spirit, and pour back into your own cup.
A witch altar is magical, and if you don’t have one yet, this article will walk you through how to make a witch altar, along with plenty of inspirational witch altar ideas to get your creativity flowing.
Are you ready to dive in?
Types of witch altars
When it comes to creating a witch altar for yourself, there really are no rules! Altars are personal and should be an authentic reflection of who you are and where you wish to grow.
Some altars are made from wood; others use a decorative tray as a base, the top of a coffee table, a shelf, a windowsill, or even a small shoebox. It can be as small or as grand as you like. Use your intuition to guide you as you choose the foundation for your witch altar and start to assemble it.
What should I put on my altar?
When thinking about the objects to place on your witch altar, a good place to start is the energy and vibration you want to call into your life and what helps you connect to the spiritual part of yourself. Take your time to answer this question. There is no right or wrong.
The next step is gathering items that help you feel how you want to and embody this vibe. Anything that feels right to you. Anything you’re instantly drawn to.
Here are some typical items you’ll often find on a witchcraft altar:
- Candles and/or incense
- Your book of shadows (where you do all your ritual work and write spells)
- Items to represent the four elements (earth, fire, air, water)
- Rocks or crystals
- Essential oils
- Flowers and plants
- Fresh or dried herbs and spices
- Altar cloth
- Tarot cards or oracle cards
- Pen or quill
- Statues of deities
- Pictures of loved ones or inspiring images
- Sacred books
- Handwritten notes or affirmations
- Mirror (great for abundance)
Here are some more ideas for objects to represent each of the four elements:
East (air): A feather, pen, wing, or dreamcatcher.
South (fire): A lit candle, incense, or matches.
West (water): A bowl, chalice, or vase filled with water, seashells, or salt.
North (earth): A crystal, some soil from the ground, a flower or plant, stone, or bone.
Candle colors and their meaning
Candles are a beautiful sacred object to place anywhere on your home altar, but how do you know which color candle to choose?
Here are what each of the colors symbolizes.
White: Connect with the moon and Goddess energies, protect and purify yourself, reset, discover truth, peace, calm, harmony, gratitude, and healing.
Black: Repel negative energy or unblock stagnant energy, end a bad habit or unhealthy situation or relationship, and reverse curses or hexes.
Red: Increase passion, lust or attraction, flirt, womb wisdom, boost confidence (including sexually), willpower, strength, courage, and determination, attract good luck, and help create a fresh start.
Pink: Self-love, warmth, friendship, joy, romance, affection, intimacy, empathy, and happiness. Heal a relationship or yourself, forgive, and water a new relationship.
Blue: Heal and connect with yourself emotionally or spiritually (your higher self), boost communication, focus, or memory. Gain inspiration and channel your inner Creatrix.
Green: Abundance, manifestation, success, wealth, good fortune and good health, generosity, and connecting physically to mamma nature.
Brown: Ground, balance, build trust, neutralize, and practice understanding.
Purple: Open your third eye, increase psychic abilities and wisdom, tap into inner secrets and knowledge, meditate, and expand your spiritual awareness.
Orange: Powerful for career changes or networking, taking action, letting go of bad habits or addictions, and inviting more joy, energy, and play into your life.
Yellow: Overcome mental challenges, gain clarity, boost intellect and focus, inspire new ideas and optimism, and view things more logically.
Flowers & herbs
Fresh or dried flowers and herbs are a lovely way to incorporate the element of earth into your witch altar and add some color and life to it. Plus, herbs are a common ingredient for every green witch or kitchen witch because they’re involved in many spells and medicinal potions.
Here are some common flowers and herbs and what they symbolize in witch work.
Aloe: Healing, protection, and affection
Basil: Good wishes
Coriander: Hidden worth
Daisy: Innocence and hope
Dill: Wards off negative spirits
Holly: Hope and festivity
Honeysuckle: Bonds of love
Ivy: Friendship and continuity
Jasmine: Sweet love
Lavender: Devotion and virtue
Lemon balm: Sympathy
Lilac: Joy of youth
Myrtle: Marriage and true love
Rose: Love, passion, and romance
Sage: Purification, wisdom, and immortality
Tarragon: Lasting interest
Thyme: Courage and strength
Violet: Loyalty, devotion, and faithfulness
Crystals are a beautiful way to decorate your witch altar and incorporate the element of air. They’re extremely versatile and can be used in moon rituals, spellwork, and baths. Hold them in your hand while meditating, or lie down and place them on your forehead or at your heart center while visualizing your wildest dreams.
Here are some of the most popular crystals and their meanings. FYI: don’t get caught up in these meanings because it can quickly become overwhelming! I recommend looking at pictures of crystals or browsing them in shops and choosing the ones you’re drawn to. Take this as a sign of what you need most right now.
Amethyst: Calm and intuition
Amazonite: Intuition and hope
Aquamarine: Clarity, purification, and calm
Carnelian: Awaken your libido, strengthen the root and sacral chakras
Celestite: Positive and uplifting
Citrine: Revitalize, cleanse, and wealth
Clear quartz: Energize
Fire agate: Courage and protection
Green jade: Emotional balance, prosperity, and wealth
Moonstone: Fresh beginnings, the Goddess, and feminine energy
Obsidian: Psychic cleanse and protection
Red jasper: Ground and stimulate
Rose quartz: Love and peace
Selenite: Clarity, light, ethereal, and harmony.
Tiger eye: Personal power
Tourmaline: Brings strength and diminishes fear
How to set up a witch altar
As mentioned, there’s no right or wrong way to assemble your sacred altar. Have fun with it. Move things around. Let your intuition guide you. Choose items you feel connected to, and update your altar regularly to reflect the woman you’re becoming.
In Wiccan tradition, the left side of a witch altar is considered the feminine side, while the right side is the masculine. On the left, you may want to arrange items like a chalice or cauldron, while on the right, you may want to keep your wand and athame. The center is where the Goddess and God meet; this is the “working area” where you do your witch’s work or sacred practice.
Another common way to set up a witch altar is to position it facing the direction that most resonates with you (north, east, south, or west).
How to decorate your altar through the seasons
Pagans and Wiccans live by The Wheel of the Year, which comprises eight holidays or Sabbats that celebrate the earth’s natural seasons.
There are our cross-quarter Sabbats and four quarter-point Sabbats.
The cross-quarter (fire) festivals:
Imbolc (February 1st)
Beltane (May 1st)
Lammas (August 1st)
Samhain (October 31st)
The quarter-point (solar) festivals:
Spring Equinox (20th – 23rd March)
Summer Solstice (20th – 23rd June)
Autumn Equinox (20th – 23rd September)
Winter Solstice (20th – 23rd December)
A beautiful way to update your altar regularly and invoke and celebrate the natural cycles and seasons is to decorate it based on these Sabbats. Think about the colors, objects, aromas, and themes of each of these seasons and also what these seasons mean to you. Something as simple as a couple of crocuses in a vase at Imbolc, a decorative egg at Spring Equinox, or a sprig of holly at Winter Solstice would be wonderful.
Protecting your witch altar
Here are a few ways to protect your altar from negative energy and bad spirits:
- Light a white or black candle (at least once a day)
- Keep a jar of black salt
- Add a tourmaline or obsidian crystal
How to cleanse your altar
It’s important to regularly cleanse your witch’s altar because your altar is your temple. So cleanse it often, and always do it right before you do any kind of ritual or spellwork—make it a part of your ritual. Clear away any dust and tidy it. Replace any dead flowers or plants. Shower it with love and care.
Burn sage or some palo santo to cleanse the air of any stagnant or negative energy. If you want a cleaner, fuss-free way to cleanse your altar, put a couple of drops of sage oil into a diffuser and let this clean the air. You might want to keep this on for the entire duration of your ritual.
Rituals to practice at your witch altar
Here are some practices you might want to do at your altar:
- Spell work
- A new or full moon ritual
- Pulling oracle cards or tarot cards
- Setting new intentions
- Creating empowering affirmations
Try to gather all your tools before you begin any ritual so that you have what you need and can immerse yourself in the experience without interruption.
The key is to use your altar as often as possible, ideally every day. A consistent practice deepens your work and helps you manifest the transformation and dreams you desire.
Casting a spell
A spell is an act of thinking about what you need or want most right now and declaring it to the Universe. When we do this, the Universe hears our call and helps to give us what we’re seeking. It’s a way of combining thought, symbols, and playfulness as you craft your spell and try to attract your deepest heart desires.
Here are the fours steps of any spell:
Throughout these four stages, you must remain open to the possibility of what you desire and visualize your life as though it has already materialized. Unless you believe it can happen, it won’t. Trust that you will receive what you need. It’s equally important to be grateful for everything you already have, even when seeking more.
Spells, particularly ones around manifestation, work best when done for yourself rather than others. We struggle enough to figure out what we truly want, let alone what others truly want.
The more you engage in spellwork, the more you’ll reveal about your true self, your beliefs, desires, and motivations, and also the Universe.
Have fun creating your own witch altar!
Are you ready to get started and create a sacred altar of your own?
- Use Pinterest and Instagram to browse other witches’ altars and get inspired.
- Hunt around your house and collect some objects you’d love to place on your altar.
- Make a list of anything you’re missing and would love to have.
- Go shopping for ethical pieces that have been made with love.
- Try and stick to 5-10 pieces to start with so you don’t get overwhelmed.
- Find an object or piece of furniture to use as your altar base.
- Have fun arranging it until you’re happy.
I’d love to see your altar when it’s done. Send me a photo in the comments below!