Beginner Witch? 4 Tips for Setting Up Your First Altar


Merry meet and blessed be!

Many have discovered this path before you, and with the goddess’s blessing, many more will come after you.

The number of adults who claim to be Wiccan in the United States has skyrocketed from 602,000 in 2008 to about 2 million by the beginning of 2016!

That figure is even considered conservative because many witches will often refuse to disclose their religion to anyone with whom they are not familiar.

Of those who follow the Wiccan path, many are solitary witches who do not belong to a coven and practice their magic alone. 

The problem with not being part of a coven is that getting started in the craft as a solitary witch, without the help of an experienced mentor, can be daunting and confusing.

Witches are not known for being forthcoming about the specific details of magical spaces and rituals. It is a way to protect themselves and others who practice the craft from those who would seek to harm them.

Fortunate for you, we are here to help get you started the right way on your pagan path.

The first thing to figure out before you can begin any rituals is to set up your altar space. We have a detailed explanation of where to set up your space, what you need, and how to place everything within your sacred space. Keep reading to learn our 4 best tips to get your altar set up!

1. Location, Location, Location

You cannot set up your circle anywhere there’s an open floor and begin working. You need to identify the right place to be able to manipulate energies.

The ideal place to set up your magic working space should be quiet and peaceful. If you feel like you could practice meditation in a particular location, chances are that would be a good spot to set everything up. 

If you have a secluded place outside where you can set up a permanent space, that would be the best option. Being surrounded by nature and having your feet grounded on the bare earth will aid you in your magical workings.

When an outdoor setting is not possible, a quiet space indoors is acceptable as well. 

Some people do not have the ability or desire to set up a permanent space at all. For those situations, you could create a “travel altar” where all your items are in a basket or a box and hidden away when not in use.

For those who consider themselves kitchen witches, it is not uncommon to set up your space on the kitchen counter.

2. Items Needed to Set up Your Altar Space

There’s no way to sugar coat this, you will need a slew of things to set up a proper altar and everything has a specific place. The good news is, there is still plenty of room for personalization of your space.

The first thing to decide is what will be the “table” where your altar will sit. This could be almost anything, as long as there is a level, flat surface to place items on.

Common items used for this purpose are nightstands, coffee tables, small end tables, or a small shelf on the wall. Even a sturdy box is an acceptable place to put your magical tools on; use your imagination.

You will also need some sort of cloth to drape over the table. You can choose any kind of any fabric and with any designs that speak to you.

Although you do need many things to set up a magical circle, that does not mean that you must spend a lot of money to get those things! Many items are laying around outside. It only takes a little time and a good eye to find them.

Some of the items you may need that are out in nature are:

  • Earth elements- stones, leaves, or berries
  • Air elements- feathers or flower petals
  • Water elements- shells, rainwater, or driftwood
  • Fire elements- ash or burnt wood

There are many things you could use to represent the elements in your circle. You may even have some items on hand at home already.

Some common household items you may have are:

  • Earth element- natural salts
  • Air element- incense (sticks or cones)
  • Water element- a mirror
  • Fire element- a lit candle

3. Giving the Area a Good Scrub Down

Once you have gathered your things, it’s time to prepare your space.

Cleaning your magic working space could mean to clean it of dirt and clutter, cleaning it of negative energy, or both.

Start by clearing away any clutter or items that do not belong within the circle. Make sure you have enough room to maneuver around if the spell calls for it.

Now, take a broom and sweep the floor (even if it is bare earth). End your sweeping by brushing any dust out of the door. On top of cleaning the dust off the floor, this action also begins to clean out the negative energy.

Another good thing to do to prepare your space for the first time is to burn sage and smudge the room. Once the sage leaves are smoldering, waft the smoke around the room in a clockwise pattern by hand or with a feather. Pay special attention to corners, closets or other areas that may accumulate stagnant energy.

4. Setting up the Circle

When you set up your circle, you will need a compass because each element needs to be in the correct corners according to the cardinal points.

The items you have to represent Earth goes at the north corner, Air items to the East, Fire items to the South, and Water items to the West.

If your circle is more than a couple feet wide, place the table at the North corner as well.

Your other magical tools (if you have them) such as a wand or chalice should lay on the center of your altar cloth.

Do not feel like your placement is set in stone either. Your altar set up is an extension of you. If you feel like changing things up a bit, go for it!

So Mote It Be

Now you have your magic working space set up and ready to go. The altar is set and your magic tools are laid out with care… what next?

There are many spells a beginner can do to get his or her feet wet. Whatever you do, make sure to jot down your rituals and any experiences you had performing the rituals. This will be the beginning of your very own book of shadows.

Remember, you should always come to the circle in perfect love and perfect trust. If you need any help loving yourself or increasing your mindfulness, contact us today!