A home or personal altar can mean different things to different people. It can be a place to celebrate the turning of the seasons, an area to perform magickal work, or a retreat where one can meditate and reflect. Essentially an altar is a sacred space where we connect to what is divine within us and around us; how you choose to create one is entirely up to you. It should be a reflection of your own unique style and what is important to you in your spiritual life.
That being said, it can sometimes be difficult to find the space to create a personal altar. But you don’t need a lot of space or money to set one up and with a little creativity and ingenuity you’ll find that just about any place in your home or living space has potential. Just remember that what is truly important in the creation of your altar is the intention or what it represents to you rather than the size or location. Focus on the purpose of the items you place on your altar and what they mean to you; in this way your altar will bring you a greater connection to your spiritual path.
Here are some ideas for space saving altars to get your creative juices flowing:
Wall Altar: A small knick-knack wall shelf is a good place to keep ritual items such as crystals, nature objects or deity figures. You can also hang up a plaque, drawing or painting with a representation of an element or deity.
Drawer Altar: This is a terrific space saver and can be used in your home or office. Just clear out a drawer and line it with fabric or decorative shelf paper. Then place your items inside, but for safety’s sake be sure not to use any burning items such as candles or incense. In place of candles you can use a representation of fire such as onyx, ruby, small dragon figures or even a fake battery powered candle. In place of incense you can represent air with feathers or potpourri.
Windowsill Altar: Create a nice out-of-the-way altar on any windowsill. As with a Drawer Altar be sure not to use any flammable items on the windowsill. Sun catchers and small wind chimes are great ways to represent the elements fire and air on a windowsill altar.
Portable Altar: This is especially good for people living in small apartments or students living in dorms and who need a place to perform magickal work. Just use a small wooden board to hold your spiritual objects. You can sand and decorate the board or you can cover it with lightweight fabric. You can also use a wooden chopping board or a breakfast tray to create a portable altar. When not in use the objects and tray can be stored away
Box Altar: A slight variation of the portable altar but rather than a board you can use a wooden box. Many craft stores have unfinished wooden boxes of various sizes that you can decorate and use to create your own box altar. Shoe boxes can also work; just decorate them with paint, glitter, or whatever you can think of to make a nice portable box altar.
Small elemental Altars: There are many simple ways to create small altars in your home that honor the elements. Here are a few ideas:
Water: Blue: You can use a tabletop fountain, sea shells, a chalice or bowls of purified water.(always place in a west facing position)
Air: Yellow: Bird feathers, small wind chimes, incense and pictures of birds or wind are ways of representing the element of air.(always place in an east facing position)
Fire: Red: One of the most common ways to represent fire is with candles, but you can also use fiery gemstones or even dragon figures. Images or symbols of the sun is another way to honor the element of fire.(always place in a south facing position)
Earth: Green: Houseplants are a great way to honor the element of earth, as are potted herbs, pentacles and stones such as obsidian and red jasper.(always place in a north facing position)
Remember that your altar is your own sacred space and there is no wrong way to create one or arrange it. Approach it with a loving heart and listen to your, heart, inner wisdom, the god and goddess or spirit guides in order to find what’s best for you.
Their is no limit to what you can do with your alter or scared space. I have pictures of Fairies, Inspirational pagan sayings, a plaque with my Magical name, my witch hat, and a pentagram dream catcher for each element. And I'm still working on it :D
A Child's Pagan Altar
How to Help Your Child Create a Sacred Space
Sharing the Pagan faith with your child is a wonderful way to pass on your traditions and knowledge, and helping your child to create their first altar is a great way to do this. A personal altar can give a child a sense of direction in their Pagan path and can bring a lot of enjoyment to both you and your child. It’s important to give your child some free rein in setting up their altar as it will be their own personal, sacred space to work with. But there are ideas that you can share with your child to give them a little inspiration, and also measures you can take to make sure your child’s altar is safe for them.
The first step in setting up your child’s altar is to find a good location. Children, as we all do, value their privacy and this is often especially true for older children. So they may want to have it set up in an area that doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic, such as a corner of their room or any other area of the home that is fairly quiet. Of course some children may want everyone to be able to see their altar, but even then certain things need to be considered such as available space and the possibility of disturbance by pets and younger siblings. Though you as a parent need to have some say in where the altar can be set up, it’s important to keep in mind that it should be in a place that is comfortable for your child. Even if a certain area seems particularly sacred to you, if your child isn’t happy with it, then it would be pointless to have it in that area.
After you and you child decide on the best area of your home to keep their altar, the next step is setting it up. We as adults often have very clear ideas of how we want our altars to look but with children it is usually an entirely different process. Children learn a lot through play and exploration so what may look like an unorganized process to you at first, can actually be your child’s way of tuning into his or her inner wisdom. So one of the most helpful things to do at that point is to step back and observe as your child creates their sacred space.
But that’s not to say you shouldn’t assist at all in the process. There are certain items that children should not have on their altar for safety’s sake. These items include things such as candles and incense, because of fire danger, any sharp items or anything that could be potentially toxic if swallowed, such as essential oils.
As far as objects to keep on the altar, many children love to collect objects from nature, so keeping such things as rocks, shells, small sticks and feathers are often popular choices. Some other ideas for altar items include:
Glow sticks or Battery Operated Candles
A favorite toy or stuffed animal
A shatter-proof cup or goblet
A small goddess figure
These are just suggestions and as long as safety is taken into consideration then your child’s creativity and intuition can take flight as they create their own personal sacred space. Once the altar is set up and completed you can share in the joyful accomplishment and know that you are helping them to take one of their first steps on their Pagan path.
If they want to represent each element try to make sure they put them in their proper places, teach them that Earth elements belong in the North, Air in the East, Fire in the South, and Water in the West
An easy way to remember that is they go in order
Earth, Air, Fire, Water
North, East, South, West
another fun way is to come up with your own mnemonic (nu-mon-ic) or the like for you and your kids to remember the order.