My Altar as an Example
My first altar was on a small table in my living room and faced north. Later when I moved into a home with a fireplace, I moved my altar to the mantelpiece. Over it on the wall is a beautiful framed graphic of the world which was given to me by a friend. The picture says, “We pledge allegiance to the earth, wondrous, beauteous land of our birth.” This is followed by a printed prayer.
On the center of the table is a steel floor tile on which a special friend once told me he loved me. Symbolically this means to me that the base of my altar is love. The metal also serves as a candle stand to protect the wood table from the heat of the candle. On top of this tile is an anointed candle (See Rituals: Anointing a Candle). Around this candle, but still on this metal base I have placed a special stones at each corner. The stones are a clear crystal, an amethyst from Sedona, AZ given to me by a friend, another amethyst and quartz that supports artistic expression. You will find that different stones have different associations and can be used to attract specific energies into your life. (See Other Metaphysical Tools: Sacred Stones).
To the west is a ceramic container filled with sand and a charcoal tablet cleaned and ready for my next incense offering. To the east is a petite green glass vase which is filled with water and sometimes a fresh flower picked from my garden. I also have a perfumed vial of oil that I use to anoint my candle.
My altar also changes with the seasons and depends on how I feel that particular day. I found a wonderful piece of wood on a nature hike that looked like it had a face on it. It lived on my altar for a very long time. Somewhere along the line – it seemed as if the spirit within the wood had left (or maybe I just needed a change!) Now it is in retirement in a box where I keep my unused ‘Altar Tools’ for a rainy day.
My altar does not take up much space – size is not important, but meaning always is. If a special person is on my prayer list – I might put their picture on my altar. Or if I am working towards some particular goal – I might find some representation of that goal and place it on my altar where I can hold it in a sacred space.
Simple Natural Items
Some stores sell plastic or bejeweled ‘magical’ paraphernalia. Unless you have a very specific and particular affinity towards these items, you’ll find most Wiccans believe in using simple, 100% natural items. You might want to try and make these tools yourself.
Use Your Ancestry
Look into your own ancestry to find appropriate tools. If you are from Northern European background, you might choose tools and images that have a ‘fairy’ like, Celtic, Norse, or Teutonic theme to them. If you have American Indian or Mexican heritage, you might want to learn more about Shamanism or the Curanderos and use their ceremonial tools. You could chose tools from Polynesian, Hindu or Buddhist traditions, or even a blending of all of these and other traditions. Whatever you incorporate into your altar, it should be as unique as you are!