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What Tools Do You Need for Your Witchy Altar?

How and where to set up your Pagan Altar, along with what tools you can use in your spellwork.

Having an altar is so important for a witch. We can find many different kinds of altars online, and we might be mind-blown by the different styles possible. But how to set up an altar? I want to share with you the best ways to set up a modern witchy altar for your spells, rituals, and more! You have decided to start making your homemade spells and rituals. If you have read about how to do magic and what you need to get started, it is time to start preparing your altar for white magic rituals and ceremonies correctly.

Putting an altar together is quite simple. Then you probably want to include a few things to decorate, but mostly functional. It must be created with the idea of helping you achieve your goals. Here are the basic things that most of the traditions of Wicca and Paganism included in the altars.

What exactly is an altar, you ask?

Altars have been used for thousands of years as sacred places for prayer, meditation, and worship (and, yes, sacrifice in some ancient civilizations). The arrangement of the Altar depends on tradition, personal taste, and the space you have available. There are countless different Altars, and they can be as elaborate and ornate as the Altars you find in churches and temples all over the world, or Altars can be as simple as a wooden stump in the forest, a ledge in our living room, or a table or desk in a room in your home.

When you decided to embark on your Wiccan, pagan, witchcraft journey, one of the initial questions you probably had was, "what kind of supplies do I need?" You would like to have an Altar but are not quite sure how to proceed. You're probably overwhelmed with questions like, "where do I start?" "what do I need to include?" "where do I place my altar?" "what witchy tools do I need, and do they need to go in a certain space?" But don't worry! There is no need to get overwhelmed, as you can build and dress your altar in the way that appeals most to you.

One of the first considerations in placing your Altar is whether your want to display it openly. If you consider your practice should be private, you can opt for a discreet Altar, away from external gaze and comments. A shelf in a small closet behind closed doors can be a wonderful solution. Inside, you can keep your tools and supplies as well as keeping them safe from those who are not respectful of your practice. This will especially ring true if you have roommates that don't quite understand witchcraft or paganism.

Once you have chosen the location of your Altar, you can now decide which ritual tools you wish to place on it. Of course, you can always choose the ritual tools first and then decide where you'd like to place your Altar. This is quite a personal and particular decision, so take your time if you're unsure.

What reason are you setting up your altar?

What is so important about having an Altar when strictly speaking, an Altar is nothing more than a flat surface covered with objects? There are two main reasons: devotional and functional.

Devotional Altar

The Altar houses all objects that relate to your spirit as a Practitioner. The Altar includes the energetic embodiment of magic and can be seen as a sacred place. The preparation and daily vision of these magical objects make your Altar a material invocation, an immediate and effective reference to that which is sacred and the spirit of the witch. For example, those shelves in grandma's home, that house all the beautiful photos of deceased family members. In a devotional sense, this can be considered an Altar dedicated to your ancestors as it houses images and objects dedicated to loved ones that immediately refer to their names and the affection felt for them. The same is true of an Altar. In it, we see the images of the Gods, Goddesses, and Nature that are the pillars of our beliefs, and with seeing them, our devotion and our bond with them are renewed.

Functional Altar

A functional Altar is purely practical but doesn't mean you're choosing one over the other. A functional Altar allows you to work your spellcraft and gives you a sacred space energetically and magically to carry out the magical functions that require thought, spirit, and matter. Where do you cut your herbs? Where do you load a talisman? Where do you consecrate and store your tools such as the athame and the chalice? The answer is functional and practical, your Altar. The Altar kept energetically and physically clean is the place of excellence for these magical things. You can choose devotional and functional when setting up your Altar, it solely depends on what you feel is right for your practice.

12 witchy tools you can include on your altar

Altar Cloth

A simple piece of cloth. It can be plain or very ornate, raw silk dyed with ancient techniques or a simple cotton bandana of the perfect color for your Altar. The color can be your favorite, the one associated with the divinity you worship or work with, or the one associated with the season you're celebrating with your Altar. In addition to the decorative functionality of an Altar cloth, it also has the task of protecting your Altar from dust, charcoal burns, and massive amounts of candle wax.

Image of Divinity

Goddess, God, both, or an image of Nature. The choices are vast, and you are free to choose as you are guided. You can look for reproductions of ancient statues ( there are many options on Etsy, at your local metaphysical shop, or you can make one yourself). Compared to a decade ago, we have so many choices now it's quite fun! Of course, this item does not have to be an anthropomorphic image either. If you choose a beautiful shell you found on the beach as the image of the Goddess, you can do that as well. The choice, as always, is your own.

Symbols to Represent the Elements

Earth — Stones, crystals, a bowl of salt

Air — Feathers, incense holder

Fire — Candles

Water — Shells, a bowl of water


An athame is a ritual knife used to direct magical energy. It is generally a double-edged knife with a black handle. The edges may or may not be sharp, as it is not used for actual cutting. It can be made of wood, stone, horn, or metal. Some use a normal knife viewed and used as a ritual tool, or you can also use a letter opener, pocket knife, etc. The color of the handle may vary, but black is the most common and traditional.


The bell is one of my favorite magical items, and I have them everywhere in my home. The bell on your Altar can be a small delicate bell, or it can be a large ornate bell that serves as a statement piece. The bell is used during rituals to invoke certain energies or clear them away.


The Bolin is your cutting tool that can be used for inscribing candles, cutting herbs, cutting threads or any other use. It is traditionally a sickle-shaped blade with a white handle, but any tool designated as a tool for this magical purpose can be used.


Various container uses, one can be full of salt, water, or used for offerings.


A Pentacle is a flat disk with a five-pointed star inscribed in a circle. It can be made of any material you are drawn to, including drawing it on a piece of paper or your Altar directly. The Pentacle is used as a talisman of magical evocation.

Broom or Besom

A ritual broom that is not used for housework but to clear the ritual space when casting or drawing your Circle, as well as to perform Spells.


The Chalice can represent the element of Water, or the Goddess, on your Altar. It can also hold an offering to your deities.


Your Altar is the best place to put your Grimoire to let it recharge from the energy used during rituals. This allows your Grimoire to gather all the energetic flow from the other witchy tools you use for your craft. And as a bonus, it can connect with your energy and spirit while connecting with the elements on your Altar. Little side note, I do not use the term Book of Shadows as it is quite strictly a Wiccan term, and that does not jive with my practice.

Divinatory Tools

You can place your divinatory tools on your Altar as well. Choose what you use the most frequently or the tool you want to learn. Those could be runes, tarot cards, crystal balls, pendulums, etc. You can also place these divinatory tools under the moonlight to recharge or cleanse them, or if you use them as a daily guide, like a tarot card pull, as a reminder of what your soul needs to focus on that day, you can place them on display.

As a reminder, do what's right for your practice and your practice alone

I'll leave you with this advice. You don't need to go out and buy all these tools right now, to make your Altar complete. You should follow your intuition and only place on your Altar what you feel called and drawn to. For example, I never found a Chalice that I loved, so I do not have one on my Altar. I see Chalices on other people's Altars that look pnenominal, but it is just not something I have on mine, as it oddly doesn't resonate with me. I say oddly because Water is the element I use most in my craft.

Remember, it doesn't matter what you put on your Altar or how you decorate it for the sabbats and holidays. It doesn't matter if you choose to place it on a piece of furniture, a shelf, a desk, or even in a small pencil case. It doesn't matter if you dedicate it to one deity or to many, or the elements or Spirit.

Don't overlook it. Do not let it get dusty, let the candle wax turn rancid, or let the colors become faded. Feel it as your own and listen to it, use it.

Cultivate your relationship with your witchcraft practice daily. You are cultivating Yourself!

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