by Gigi & bbs
What exactly is the Wiccan altar and what is it used for in the path? Why do I need to know how to set it up?
Two excellent questions, well three actually, for the beginning Wicca to want to know. First of all, you have to know why you need one. The altar is the central point of the circle. What’s this circle? It is the place we go to perform rituals, meditate, or commune with the God/Goddess. So, the altar is the center of this circle. It is used to hold items that we use when we perform these things.
The altar itself can be any number of things even the mantle in your home. The ideal altar is one that can be moved easily from indoors to outdoors. It is best if it is made from wood, but that isn’t necessary to begin with. What you want is something that is easily transportable and can function well for your workings.
Now, as to setting up the altar, you need to know that the left side is for the Goddess and the right the God. Remember, in Wicca, the deity is a duality. All you need to remember is that you will want items specific to the Goddess on the left and for the God on the right. Anything else is entirely up to you in function and design.
The Wiccan Elements on the Altar
To represent the Wiccan Elements on the Altar is simply to represent the Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. You don’t have to get elaborate with this, think simple. A bowl filled with soil from your yard can represent the Earth. You can use a feather of any kind or burning incense to represent the Air. For the Fire, again think simple just light a candle. The flame is fire enough when you are starting out. As for Water, collect a cup of rain water or some lake water. Any water from outside is best (out of the outdoor faucet doesn’t count).
Use your imagination and make each gathering of the items an adventure. You might find a sea shell that could be used to hold the water or a rock that has a cavity in it. The possibilities are endless.
The Goddess and God on the Altar
You don’t have to search out or buy statues unless you want to do so. For the beginner, I would suggest looking for pictures that represent each and can be placed individually on your altar. Another option is the use of candles to represent them. If you do this, you will want to use a green, silver, or white candle for the Goddess and red, yellow, or gold for the God.
Make sure to place these on left and right respective of the proper place for each deity.
The Season on the Altar
Gathering items from nature to represent the different seasons is a fun outing for the day. You will want to make sure you have items appropriate for the Wheel of the Year celebrations and the four seasons. During Samhain, you might want some small pumpkins or gourds along with a few turned leaves, etc. Make if fun and uniquely you. If you extract something from a tree or a plant from the ground make sure you thank the tree or plant or earth for its sacrifice to your altar.
The Pentacle on the Altar
You will want to have a Pentacle on your altar. You can do this by drawing a Pentacle, placing an altar cloth, or using tiles that have the Pentacle on them. It is totally up to you as to which suits you better. The tiles are a nice addition for placing the small cauldron on when it is used for purification ceremonies and workings.
The Wiccan Tools on the Altar
Starting out you may not have many tools yet, but as you gather them you will want to place them in the proper place on the altar. On the side for the Goddess which is the left half of the altar, your tools might consist of a cup, pentacle, a bell, a crystal, and the cauldron. The God sits to the right side of the altar and his tools might be the censer, wand, athame and the white handled knife.
a simple basic set up for the beginning Wicca and in no way a definitive list of the variations on the setup of the altar. You are an individual and as such your altar will be as individual and unique as you are.
For my inside altar I have an oak secretary desk that came from my late grandmother’s home when she passed. My outside altar is two cinder blocks with a pine board placed across them. I have my altar items stored in a tote that is easily transported from inside to out.
Yours will be what you make it, just remember to follow the guide of Goddess on the left and God on the right. Hmmm…the similarity of the wedding ceremony comes to mind here. Enjoy gathering your items and setting up your own altar.
Written by LynneChandler