To better concentrate on your work you need a focus. The altar is set up for this purpose. Here you will do all your rituals, spells, and prayers.
The altar is a personal private place (unless you wish to share it) where you can practice your craft or merely to pray to your goddess/god or goddesses/gods and each altar is unique unto its owner.
The placing of your altar is up to you but it is recommended that it be away from the rest of the household. Some people have a whole room just for their rituals but this is not necessary. As long as there is a place where you can be quiet and no one can bother the altar, all the better. My cat has on occasion played with the items I have placed on my altar but the goddess understands so it is not a problem.
All altars do share some basic features, such as your path is unique unto you so is your altar. Do, as you will! They are very versatile and almost anything can be placed on them for whatever reason and for each seasonal festival.
On a basic altar it is suggested that you have a bowl of water (rainwater is preferable but tap water will work if that is all there is) and a bowl of salt (sea salt but table salt can work also). Also, on the altar you will need two candles, one for the goddess and one for the god. You may use one larger candle for both if you so choose as long as it is understood to your goddess/god that they must share.
A small cauldron is necessary for the burning of herbs, paper, and other items. You will need an incense burner or censer for the burning of incense, too. Incense plays an important part of all your rituals. This will be elaborated on in future issues. You will also need an athame (magic knife) and a pentagram. You can place a wand there also if you wish. My wands are all wooden sticks that attracted my attention but I donít necessarily put them on my altar unless I am going to use them for a ritual. Magic wands are for pinpointing the focus of your power.
In the photo below you will see a basic setup of my altar. This is only the basic. For each ritual I might add flowers or herbs. Sometimes wood I find in the forest or stones that attract my attention. You will also adjust your altar to each ritual for each ritual will need certain things. The main thing to remember is that as long as you are happy with it then it is an excellent altar for you. You will be able to focus more easily.
The Basic Altar
If you donít have the room you can set up small altars in small areas. The one pictured is actually on the top of a small two-shelf bookcase where I keep all my magic books and some supplies and I keep this in my office. I live alone so I could set up a whole room with a bigger altar but I donít find that necessary for my use. In casting a circle I have even used a covered TV folding tray as a temporary altar. I then put it all away when I am done with the circle.
Once you have set up your altar the way you want it you can add or take away items, as you will. It is your special place to center yourself for rituals or relaxation. Every practitioner should have his or her own space.
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