Setting Up Your First Alter (part 1)

This is going to be one of the most important and personal choice you make when practicing. You’ll need to decide what type of alter, how you store everything and how to display it if you want to display. You may choose to hide it in a room in your home that visitors don’t visit or you may keep it out in the open. I personally store everything in an old antique table a family friend gave me. I can hide it, keep my kids from accessing it and I know where everything is.

You will want to find storage– it could be a plastic tub or it could be an old wood antique box, that doesn’t matter outside of aesthetics.

You will also need to decide what types of tools you’ll want to use. Candle magick is one of the simplest and more common. All you need is a supply of candles of different shapes, types and colors. Common colors

  1. Purple is used for wisdom
  2. Blue- healing, fighting sadness/depression or bringing peace
  3. Green is used in healing, health, money and success spells.
  4. Pink- love, relationships in general (friendships), it’s used to invoke feminine energies
  5. Red- passion, love, vitality, fertility and can be used to banish negativity
  6. White- protection, cleansing, divining and communicating with the deceased
  7. Black- lifting curses, banishing negative entities or energy, purification and some health (banishing a cold or symptoms of chronic illness)

After determining the types of spells you’ll practice (you may want to stock up for any and all types), you will need to determine the sizes. There isn’t any significance with sizes and shapes, so that would be a personal preference, although sometimes you find specially molded candles in shapes of gods, goddesses or symbols. Even then, all you would really need are tapered, pillar, jar, votive or tea lights.

The last thing to consider- do you want primarily unscented or scented candles? I would suggest a mixture of both, but with earthy scents. Some scents promote psychic energies, relaxation and sage is good for cleansing. Burning a sage scented candle can work just as well as smudging, if you don’t have a smudge stick available.

Dragons blood is good to work with in any form. You can use scented candles, incense or dragon’s blood ink. Dragon’s blood incense smells amazing and is added to increase the energy you put into your spell work. It makes the energies more intense.

 

Incense is another item on your list. It’s normally a good idea to stock up on different earthy scents to help enhance your spells. Different scents help with different emotions or energies- dragon’s blood is considered to help

Some common scents that are used to enhance spells

  1. Dragon’s blood
  2. Sandal wood
  3. Lavender
  4. Sage
  5. Peppermint
  6. Other earthy scents work well as well

An alter cloth is next on the list. You can make one or buy one. It’s typically used as decoration and to protect the surface of the alter. You could also get one that serves both to protect the alter and provide divination

The divination tools are next. Decide what form(s) of divination you’re wanting to practice and make sure to get the tools you will need for those. If you’re wanting to read tarot, get at least one set of tarot cards. Most people say the first deck needs to be gifted and not bought, but to be honest, not everyone is going to have a friend or family member who will give them their first deck.

If you’re wanting to learn the iChing, they do sell iChing coins but all you really need are five coins of one type and one different. (I use 5 pennies and 1 dime).

If you’re wanting to learn runes, one or two good sets of runes

For dowsing, you need a pendulum (you can make one fairly easy but there are plenty to choose from) and you need a mat (either make or buy- it can be paper but they also make cloth) with words like “yes,” “no,” “maybe” etc.

With any method, it’s best to buy at least one guide book to start you out. Some people prefer ebooks but I like normal, paperback books myself. It makes it easier to do readings and the batteries never die. Of course, when you’re studying Tarot, it comes with a book and you will find out quickly that the meanings in the book mean nothing, but it gives a basic understanding while you’re learning.

If you decide you’re not interested in practicing divination, that’s ok. It’s not required but it is useful to know at least one method.

There may be another post like this later, if I find I missed anything. My alter box is mainly set up for candle magick and divination and I covered those. I don’t do herbal or crystal magick too much, I do have a collection of dried herbs, crystals for specific energies and salt (sea and black). I’m in the process of grinding coal to make black sand.

As much as you can gather, dry out and make yourself- the better. The more work you manually put in, the more the alter’s energies will be alligned with yours but if you buy, you can use the 3 day “rule”

For 3 days, carry the tools with you in your pocket. Three nights, sleep with them under your pillow and it should sync your energies up to the tools.

A few miscellaneous items you may also want to add:

1. Athame- double sided knife used in rituals to direct energies

2. wand- once again, used to direct energies and very easy to make (I found a sturdy stick, stripped it down and have been using it for years)

 

When you go to buy your supplies, it’s best to find the supplies that are calling you. Find the ones that keep you coming back around- even if it’s not the best looking, those are the tools most aligned with you and we hardly choose our tools. Most of the time our tools choose us.

If I missed any tools you have found you need, feel free to comment. We all practice different so what I use may not be what everyone else uses and vice versa.