Setting up your altar is one of the most simplest things you can do within Paganism. Wherever you place yourself under the Pagan umbrella, an altar is desirable. However, some people are not in a position to have an altar. This is fine because not all Pagans chooses to have one.
Reasons To Have An Altar
To begin with, at the very least you can show your honour to the Goddess, God or Spirits. You can also make offerings to your Deities. There is no problem in asking your Deities for help in your day-to-day life or seeking positive energy. Use your altar while you meditate, do magic or cast your spells. In reality, use the altar for all your spiritual routines and rituals.
Most Pagans always use their altar for the 8 Sabbats, so learn the periods on the Wheel of the Year. Then there are the 13 Esbats.
Position Of Your Altar
Making an altar outside the home is ideal, but we usually do this out of sight. This is because the further you get into nature, the more you can tune into it. Also, some people still think you look ‘strange’ and this may distract you.
Indoors, space is at a premium, so you may have no option where to place it. However, placing your altar in certain places can intensify the energy you seek to find. For example, east is the air element, south is the fire element, west is the water element and north is the earth element. So, if you can position your altar facing one of those directions, all the better.
Indeed, you can call on everything those elements have to offer. For example, you can ask the earth element to watch over you and protect you while practising rituals. Do the same for all of them then call on your Deity or Deities.
Because of the lack of space, you may have to keep your static altar in the corner of your room. This is perfectly acceptable since this situation is unavoidable.
Decorating Your Altar
Firstly, place a coloured cloth down in the designated area. This could be a simple table top or even a bedside table. Choose a suitable colour for your needs, a one that adds ambience. For example, if you are feeling down, use a bright colour such as yellow. But there really is no colour code. In fact, you don’t even need a cloth!
Secondly, decorate it with anything you need for the occasion. For example, if you are celebrating the Autumn Equinox (Mabon), you could use the fruits of the harvest. Because this is a dramatic time within nature you can use acorns, fallen leaves and twigs etc. Using crystals and coloured candles can add to the ambience. Only decorate it from the feelings you have at the time, it will come to you from the heart.
There is no need to turn your religion into a commercial event, so try not to buy things. Nature provides everything, therefore, take from nature wherever possible. Besides, negative energy could be corrupting items you buy and handled by others. So, when you get something new, it might be wise to cleanse them of negative energy.
There are many tools that a Pagan uses. For instance, Witches have their own specific tools, of course. Whatever tools you use, place them in strategic places on your altar. For example, place your athame in the most prominent position should you want to call on God. This will give you more focus on the masculine energy.
Likewise, if you are feasting with the Goddess or God, place your offerings in the most appropriate position. Again, it is obviously down to what is most appropriate for you, there are no rules!
Ideally, before you begin your ritual, you should clear the area of negative energy. This includes removing unwelcome negative energy from your your tools. To do this, use sunlight, moonlight or salt etc. So, prepare in advance. Once you are ready, casting a circle around your ritual area will intensify things further.
Your Deity, Goddess or God will not discriminate should you consider your altar is too small or not have elaborate decorations etc. The most important thing is your connection to them. In short, this is your private domain and there is no right or wrong. Over time, and with more experience, your rituals become personal to you. So, take tips from others and read up on things, but you should finally tune things for your requirements.