On Wiccan Altars
Question - What is required on your altar? I live in an apartment with a roommate so I don't have a lot of extra space.
- You don't really have to have a lot of extra space for your altar. You can
create a small altar in your bedroom for a specific ritual that you then
dismantle when you're finished, or you can keep an altar permanently set up which you use for different rituals with the magickal tools that you usually use for any ritual.
You would simply add anything else to your altar when you have the
occasion to do a ceremony in addition to your regular worship. Obviously an altar that was set up and ready to use on an ongoing basis would require that you have privacy in your room.
For the altar itself, you can use a night stand or you can purchase a small table with a 14" to 18" square top. A night stand is handy as they often have a drawer or a shelf which you can use to store your candles, matches, incenses and such. If you can leave your altar out in your bedroom so much the better, but if your roommate is nosey, you can make space in your closet and scoot the altar in there for storage when you're not using it. Or you can store all your tools when you're not using them and just keep the altar out with a vase of flowers or
something on it so it looks innocuous.
For supplies, you'll want to have at least one altar cloth to cover your altar. I go to the fabric store and buy cloth remnants in different color as I like to cover my altar in a color which corresponds to the magick I'm doing at that time. A piece that is 36" long and 36" wide is perfect. You'll need four to six candle holders, a candle snuffer and a small box (about 4" by 6") to store matches, incense, charcoal and an incense spoon. You probably won't always need all of the candle holders all the time, but there may be rituals you do from time to time that require 6 or so.
Each time you set up your altar you'll want your basic elemental tools - chalice, athame, pentacle and wand as well as an incense burner, incense spoon and two small containers - one for your salt and one for your incense. If you have room on your altar, you may also want to have a statue of the God and the Goddess displayed there. If you make a trip to your local hobby/craft store, whenever you see things that will work to beautify your altar, get them as your budget allows. Small containers for your salt and incense for example - soft-poached egg holders or miniature ramekins work great for this. The next time you go to the grocery store, pick up a gallon of spring water so you always have it on hand.
You can set up your altar any way that pleases you. If you are creating a
'traditional' altar, on the altar surface, you'll place your Pentacle on the north, your wand and incense burner on the east, your athame at the south and your chalice on the west. Place a small dish of salt in front of the chalice.
Place another small dish with your incense in front of your burner along with
your incense spoon (baby spoons work well for this). Many people keep a candle
for the God and a candle for the Goddess on their altar in addition to any
candles that they are using for their spell work and these candles are usually
set toward the edge away from you on the altar so that you won't burn yourself
with their flames.
If you have the luxury of leaving your altar up all the time you might want to consider changing it with the seasons to commemorate each Sabbat and the turning of the Wheel of the Year. Beautiful autumn leaves and pine cones with black candles during Samhain look beautiful, and then you can leave the pine cones and add holly and mistletoe with gold candles (and maybe a string of gold stars) at Yule. Try some fresh smelling pine boughs, white candles and white gauzy ribbon at Candlemas then a small pot of violets, green candles and pastel ribbons during Ostara. At Beltane, add a vase of cut flowers from your garden along with some pussy willow and some pink candles then change the set up to marigolds, yellow candles and a gold sun from a craft store when Summer Solstice arrives. At Lughnassadh, change to orange candles and add some vegetables from your garden following with apples, chrysanthemums and
crimson candles at Mabon. If you have a fireplace with a mantle, you could use the mantle as your Wheel of the Year altar and save your main altar for ritual alone. Use your imagination and have some fun!