In Witchcraft, like most religion, the altar is a sacred place of power. Unlike other religions, in Witchcraft, the altar is not necessarily a place of worship. For most Witches, the textbook definition of worship doesn’t fit what we do. In Witchcraft: Theory and Practice, Ly de Angeles states that “Witches don’t worship the Gods, the witch represents the Gods.” Even with this in mind, the altar is still a focal point of Wiccan religion.
Like most Witches, I keep a permanent altar. Actually, I keep many permanent altars. My main altar sits next to my desk in my bedroom. It’s a small cabinet with six drawers. On it’s surface, I keep a abalone shell with a smudge stick of sage, a small chalice, a small altar pentacle, a few candles, and statues of the God Ganesha and the Goddess Lilith. In front of each statue, I keep an offering dish of water. Inside the drawers, I keep other magical supplies, like incense, candles, herbs, my wand, my athame, and my ritual chalice. This is my main working altar, but I have several throughout my home.
In my basement, I have a huge fireplace. On the mantle, I keep several pictures of my family. Alongside these pictures, I have a candelabra that holds three candles; white, red, and black to represent the three phases of the Goddess. Next to the candles sits a statue of the Virgin Mary in her aspect of Patron of the Household. A yucca broom rests behind her. The hearth is elevated and made of stone. In front of the hearth is a black circular rug (fireproof, of course). In the Winter months, I light a fire and meditate before the fire. I also use this altar to perform magic for the home.
In my kitchen, there is a simple altar consisting only of a green candle and a quartz crystal. This altar is mostly a reminder to pause and be mindful whenever I walk past it. When I cook, or anything else that involves me being the kitchen for an extended period of time, I usually light the candle and practice mindful breathing.
Finally, in my bathroom, I have an altar of sorts set up for the various Gods and Goddess of beauty. It consists of red candles, pieces of river glass, sea shells, and rose quartz. The main focus of this altar is to help remind me that inner beauty can shine through as outer beauty with a little bit of focus. Believe me, sometimes, I need as much help as I can get.
Despite having all these altars at my disposal, my job requires about 80% travel each year, so I am rarely home to use them. Instead, I have to be creative. When I travel, I make sure to take power items with me. For example, I am currently in the Philippines. In my toiletry bag I packed a few crystals (quartz, citrine, and tigers eye), a small elephant statue, and a small bottle of lavender oil. During my stay, the small, circular table next to the window in my room will serve as my altar.
In the past, the bathroom counter, the desk, even the bathtub have served as a sacred space. In my experience, I have learned that it’s not important what your altar is, it’s most important that your altar is used.