SettingUp Your Altar
You will need a large, flat surface for your altar; atable or a cupboard will do – you can use the drawers for storage and cover itwith a cloth. It does not really matter what shape the surface is - circles and squares are both sacred shapes and easy to divide into quadrantsfor the four elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, that are central totraditional magic and play a part even in informal rituals. A round altar, theshape of the sacred circle, works especially well.
If you do not have a suitable piece of furniture, a pieceof uncut stone or unpolished wood, such ashazel, ash, rowan or oak supported onstones or bricks will do. Ensure that it is high enough, so that you are notconstantly stooping.
In good weather, if you have a sheltered private place inyour garden or back yard, you can adapt a tree stump or tall, flat rock as yourwork space. But perhaps the best altars of all are those impromptu ones youmake – such as the top of a standing stone with a circle of your favouritecrystals, or a rock on the beach with a circle of seaweed and shells to markthe directions.
The altar need not be large but you will need to haveroom to move all the way round it. Many rituals demand that you move in acircle with the altar in the centre, although some place the altar in the Northof the circle and you stand to the South, facing North.
The central position of the altar/circle represents therealm of Spirit, or Akasha. Akasha is the name given to the fifth elementformed by the combination of the four ancient elements of Earth, Fire, Air andWater that were considered in classical times to be the components of all lifeand matter. It is greater than the other four.
In formal magic, artifacts and lighted candles are kepton an altar but this is not vital. It is quite possible, even if you are usinga communal room in an apartment or house, to leave your altar partly prepared,although items such as salt and water are best added immediately before aritual so they will be fresh. A garden altar can be set with an outdoor candleor torch and stone figurines, perhaps shaded by bushes.
Keep pot pound or living plants on your indoor altar whenit is not in use to keep the energies fresh and moving. If it feels stagnant,sprinkle an infusion of lemon or peppermint widdershins, to remove negativitythat has come in from the activities of the day, and then deosil, to charge itwith power. You can also cleanse it with incense, creating a protective circleof pine or myrrh, again widdershins and then deosil.
Each night, or whenever you have time, you can explore yourinner psychic powers at your altar. For example, you can gaze into a candle orscry into a bowl of water on the surface of which you have dripped colouredinks. Try holding the different crystals that you place on your altar and allowimpressions to pass through your fingertips, manifest as images, sounds orfeelings. This psychic art is called psychometry and is one that will emergespontaneously.
You may, however, have a more specific aim in mind. Forexample, to improve your finances, place a pot of basil herbs, surrounded bygolden coloured coins and light a green or golden prosperity candle whilevisualizing golden coins showering upon you. If you have a friend who is sick,and wish to send healing thoughts to them, place a photograph of them on thealtar, and surround it with pink flowers, pink rose quartz crystals and acircle of tiny pink candles. Send your message of healing or visualized goldenlight, then blow out the candles deosil, sending the energies to where they areneeded.
When you are not carrying out formal magick, keep on thealtar any crystals that are of personal significance to you. You might wish tohave a clear crystal quartz for pure energy, a blue lapis lazuli flecked withgold for wisdom, a purple amethyst and rose quartz for healing and harmony, ora gleaming, golden-brown tiger’s eye for grounding. You can also keep differentherbs there according to your current focus.