What is an altar? Google frustratingly defines it as either a table in a Christian Church or a place where you sacrifice offerings to deities. Like, what? No, Google, bad, Google!
None of those definitions suit me, nor do I think they suit a lot of witches I know. An altar, in my practice, is a focal representation of magick.
Since I’m a nontheistic witch, I don’t delineate my altars to Beings- but instead, they’re committed to ideas or spells; my altars serve the purpose of dedication to intent, while simultaneously providing decoration and personality to my home. But, even for those who do designate their altars to deities, I think it’s still a visual representation of magick- it’s just devoted to a specific role model!
One of the most asked questions from new witches I’ve met is: “how do I make an altar?” The answer is simple and without fuss: you just do! Wiccan followers have designations for what should and should not be on altars, but there’s no rule that says you must follow that (or that you have to be Wiccan to have an altar- I’m certainly not!). An altar is a representation of your magick, so it should look like you crafted it.
If I have any advice it would be that it should invoke feelings of worship or dedication to that altar’s purpose in you, or frankly- whatever emotion you want to evoke should be stimulated when you look at that altar. This includes, if I might be a bit shocking, pride. Pride is an internal honoring of ones self, and unlike in most religions, I feel that it’s necessary- in the pursuit of spirituality- to overcome insecurities and self-doubt. There’s a fine line of course, between having pride and being arrogant, but you’ll figure out where that is for you. However, having dignity in your altar means that you care about it, you created something you are pleased with- and you’ll find that satisfaction will bring you back to that altar over and over again.
For those still in the broom closet, or unwilling to go all out for what ever reason, altars do not have to big huge displays of witchiness. Oh, no. Luckily, crystals and herbs are making a huge step into modern culture (no matter what religion is being practiced with it) so having small little displays that mean something to you- but are completely innocuous- are perfect! Can’t, or don’t want to have candles or crystals? A window seal with found rocks from nature walks can be a very low-key way to make an altar. Don’t want anything at all obvious or suspect? A landscape drawing with some symbolic items hidden throughout hung on your wall can be a great solution!
My point is that it doesn’t have to look like something off pinterest or out of a movie to be yours. If you put intent into it, whether it’s a single stone on your dresser or an entire table of ornate accouterments, it is your altar if you choose it to be.
Which leads me to today. I wanted to create an altar in my kitchen. It’s been a dream of mine for as long as I’ve been practicing, and for the first time since being an adult, I actually have the room to put one up!
Normally, I’ll have an idea and buy a specific stone, or candle for that altar, but this time, I want to be more thrifty. Not only are my husband and I on a self-induced spending freeze for January, I feel like I have a habit of buying things just to buy them. Not to say that this altar won’t change, and I won’t buy things specifically for it in the future- but for now, I want it to be found from either nature, or my already abundant supply of goodies.
So- the only question that was left to ask myself is the same one you should ask yourself when creating your altars: what do I want it to represent?
For me: Family. Good food. Laughter. Love. Protection. Hot meals and abundance. Never going hungry. All the things a good kitchen should represent, right?
First, I grabbed two items that are already in my kitchen that have significant spiritual symbolism to me. A red candle, this particular one is my favorite scent from glade (Apple Cinnamon), and a cloth trivet. The candle is significant because red brings about appetite, the scent is significant because it makes me happy. It’s practically become my signature scent, in that any time my husband smells this outside the home, he immediately thinks of me- so there’s magick in that too. The cloth trivet has a silly, but meaningful, story; I went shopping at this 5 and Dime store with my mother-in-law after we moved here. While walking down one of the aisles, a scent hit me and immediately I was transported by to my Great Grandmother’s apartment (a woman I hold so dear to my heart but who passed when I was 9). I spent 45 minutes tracking down that scent, and it led me to the trivet- which also, weirdly enough, reminded me of her and her apartment. I was told a couple years ago that she’s one of my ancestial guides, and this little cloth pot holder is just my tangible connection to her.
On top of the trivet I keep acorns that my son, my husband, and I found at the beginning of spring (our first in our new home). So along with great memories, they symbolize protection and family- as the shell keeps the seed safe, it also holds the key to a new generation.
I added a symbolic Buddha face statue, as a reminder to keep my faith, along with some crystals. I used a large Carnelian palmstone- to bring hunger, motivation, and energy into the kitchen, a citrine sphere to bring abundance and healing into our food and space, and a tiny quartz point to amplify every little bit of magick on this altar!
I also made a little spell to go along with my kitchen altar. Taking ingredients from my kitchen, cinnamon, salt, thyme, and bay leaves, I intended each item respectively to cleanse, ground, create family times, and protect. It was simple, and spur of the moment, but I love it- the energy vibrating from the little votive holder I put them in is just the purest it could be.
Everything sits on a red charge plate I bought during Christmas, as red is the color of love, hunger, and power. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it on this plate, as it’s a bit big for my counter-top, but for now during my no spend month, I’m happy with it! The energy is amazing, and it’s already working to do what I’ve intended it to do!
Do you have an altar in your kitchen? If you were to create one, in any room, what items would you add to make it your own?
Until tomorrow, my friends…