What does an altar mean? What do you put on a witch’s altar? When do you use it? Where does it go? Do you need one? Are we going dark here? Ok baby witches, don’t worry, I gotcha. Let’s demystify the witch’s Altar (you can re-mystify your own personal one at home) 😉


An “altar” might stir up images of bad Hollywood movies of pointy hat wearing witches sacrificing babies on stone altars to an evil bright red dude with horns*. Or, you might be thinking of a church kind of altar where they dip screaming babies into ice cold water. Either way, it doesn’t immediately lend itself to something peaceful, beautiful and sacred. So let’s fix that.

A Witch’s Altar is:

A witch's altar

The Altar helps you connect to and honour the Goddess & God / your chosen Deities, and the Elementals (Earth, Air, Fire, Water), whom you work with whenever you do any kind of energy working.

All you need is a small surface and a few symbolic items to represent the sacred energies you work with.

Your altar can be permanent, or something you set up and take down when you practice your craft. It can be indoors or outdoors according to your preference. Big and full of lots of things, or a minimalist set up that you keep in a shoebox. It really is all about you! So let’s look at the basic Altar tools and items.


Here are some basic altar tools you might want to include in your altar:

The Altar

Statues, pillar candles or framed pictures that represent your image/s of God & Goddess / Deities / Great Spirit.

Witch Altar Items the Athame and Chalice

You can also use a Chalice (cup) which represents Goddess, and can be used to drink out of during rituals.

A knife, called an Athame, represents God, and can be used like a wand to cast the circle as well as to cut things during rituals.

To represent the four elements: A bowl with sand for Earth, a bowl with water for Water, a red candle for Fire and a feather for Air work well.

Of course, you can use a variety of different items – I list suggestions below.

A great idea is to use crystals associated with each element as well. See our Elementals Crystal Kit.

Place your representations of the Elementals in their appropriate direction. Here in South Africa (Southern Hemisphere), East is Air, South is Earth, West is Water and North is Fire – this is according to the Wiccan associations. In Shamanism they are placed differently.



  • brown or earth colour crystal,
  • brown or green candle,
  • bowl of sand
  • a bowl of salt,
  • statue or picture of an earth dwelling animal like the snake or a magical creature like a gnome or giant.


  • yellow or white colour crystal,
  • yellow or white colour candle,
  • burning incense stick,
  • feather,
  • empty bottle or bowl,
  • statue or picture of a bird or sylph


  • red crystal,
  • red candle,
  • something spicy like a chilli,
  • lighter or matches,
  • statue or picture of a dragon or salamander


  • blue crystal,
  • blue candle,
  • seashell,
  • bowl of water,
  • statue or picture of a water creature like a fish, nymph or mermaid.
Offering bowl

A metal bowl, often called an Offering Bowl, is where you would perform various kinds of energy workings.

For example, burning a piece of paper, mixing up a magickal herbal brew, or leaving small cakes to honour the Fae folk on Samhain.

Use a candle snuffer to extinguish altar candles

A candle snuffer is a useful investment to extinguish your candles.

Candles can be used to represent the Deities and Elementals. You may also use candles in magickal workings.

Using your breath to extinguish the candles is considered bad form by the spirit world.

A mortar and pestle on the altar

A mortar and pestle is useful for grinding up herbs and spices during rituals.


During the year, we witches celebrate or mark the passing seasons (sun movements) and moon cycles (lunar movements). We call these Sabbats and Esbats.

You can learn more about The Wheel of the Year HERE.

A lovely way to mark the Sabbats and Esbats is to have a few items you use to change up your altar space. For example, picking some wild flowers and painting some egg shells for Ostara (Spring celebration) or pinecones and a mini Yule tree for Yule in Winter. You can pick things up in nature to add to your altar or invest in special items that you bring out each year for the Sabbats. Keep different colour tablecloths or candles that correspond to the season.


Ok, let’s do a quick sum up of the items you want to consider adding to your altar. I’ll include some budget friendly options here too:



Your altar can be as big and elaborate and fancy as you like, or simple and minimalistic! What’s most important is that your altar space gives you a sense of the sacred and magickal. It should inspire and empower you. Make it personal, and allow it to change over time.