Practical Magick – Build an Alter

A short step by step on building your altar for magical workings. Spirits will show up there, because you intend them to.

The magic always works, and always in unexpected ways.

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- Transcript -

If you decide to engage the support of magic in your various life endeavours, you will soon be called upon to create an altar. In fact, why not create the altar before you are called upon to do so, to demonstrate your eagerness to learn and your openness to experience?

I preface everything I’m about to say with the injunction that there is no prescription for the perfect altar and you can’t really do it wrong. It doesn’t matter where you put it, spirits will turn up there because you intend them to. If you don’t have the right altar cloth, use a tray or a piece of paper, you can make an altar from a tree stump and a stone. Spirits will meet you there because you intend it.

The first thing to do is to select a place for your altar. It can be a discreet corner of a bookshelf, the top of a dresser, it can be in a public area of your home or somewhere just for you. It can be permanent or temporary and when you’ve decided on your space, then clean and tidy the area unless you’re creating an altar somewhere like a deconsecrated derelict church, an abandoned warehouse or a tree stump in the woods, in which case embrace the aesthetic. You can follow that with a smoke cleanse with herbs like muggle, lavender, rosemary or sage. And if you dislike smoke, you can buy metaphysical cleaning sprays or you can even just use sound like chiming a bell or clapping your hands loudly to move stagnant energy.

Place a cloth to demarcate the area as sacred. You can use a cloth in a colour that corresponds with your desires for the altar or the deity you’re working with or use a tray or even a piece of coloured paper. I’m using a vintage designer scarf because it corresponds with my intentions for this altar.

Then it’s time to start placing your accoutrements. For a permanent altar, I pass each one through frankincense smoke and utter a silent prayer to the smoke to purify and consecrate them. The most basic altar can just hold a candle preferably again in the corresponding color, a stick of incense and a glass of water. Beyond that, you can add effigies, amulets and talismans, pictures, statues, tarot cards, your handwritten petition, photos of past loved ones who had a particular skill or attitude that you wish to invoke, crystals, food and drink, fresh flowers. Feel free to add new items every day or as often as you choose. For example, you could add a white feather that falls into your path or a beautiful leaf or petal or any small items you come across that strike you as sacred.

I also store some of my magical paraphernalia on my altars. For example, I have some very sacred anointing oil and incenses which demand to be kept in a holy place and likewise I keep my meditation mala on my altar.

Once your altar is built, perform a brief consecration. You could recite the Orphic hymn or a poem of your own to a particular spirit or deity or simply a few minutes of meditation followed by the spoken heartfelt wish that your devotions be heard.