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The kind of equipment you need for your altar setup really depends on its location and purpose. The kit for a portable altar to take into nature when inspiration strikes is quite different to the reflective space you might set up at home. But common to both is the spiritual journey you undertake with each ritual, in its preparation, planning and for that there are some basic essentials that can always aid your focus and empower you to get the results you are aiming for. These are both organisational items and ones which represent the elements you are channelling. But whether you prefer a permanent, organised altar with arrangements to represent the elements, or creating a kit to take out into nature with you, or even set up your altar fresh each ritual and change your focus elements to suit, here's some of our essentials to get you organised and focused.
Everything is symbolic. It's the meaning behind them that is important to us. Use the below as a guide, but the real power behind altar rituals is your heart, meaning and intent and so use the symbols and tools your inner guide suggests to you as these will always be the most powerful.
Altar cloths represent the sacred area of protection during a ritual. As this is your central focus, it's a good idea to choose a cloth that represents your approach to magick. Throw rugs, such as the pagan calendar throw, are great for a portable altar kit as there is room for you to sit as well as cast your ritual. Round throws can be altered to double as a pouch or bag easily enough too.
A lit candle represents the fire element, and the colours of candles take on different meanings for particular rituals. A basic black & white set, representing the goddess and god, or feminine and masculine in nature, are useful in most rituals. Candle colours can also represent the elements, such as brown and green for earth, yellow & white for air etc, or for specific ritual intentions such as green for luck, money or fertility. Because colours have different meanings and what matters is your intent behind choosing, chime or spell candles are an easy way to draw elements of focus into your ritual so are a must-have for your altar setup.
An offering bowl, sometimes called a libation dish, is again dependent on your form of magick, but they are essential to most rituals in some way. Offerings give thanks, or invoke requests from the spirits and are a sign of acknowledgement that you are asking the universe to grant you what you desire. If your offerings are organic, such as flowers or herbs, these can be returned to nature after use for further effect.
Crystals have a broad range of uses on altars, but generator crystals specifically, those with 6 faces that come to a point on one end, are designed to generate and project energy during spells and rituals. Rainbow moonstone, for example, is great for helping you attune erratic emotions. Red jasper can make a strong connection with the earth and can make longer rituals more stable and balanced. Clear quartz can not only amplify the energy of other crystals, but it helps to draw off negative energy.
Wands are used to direct energy, and also represent the air element in ritual work. Many traditional wands are made out of wood or crystal, but its greatest power is the symbolic so choose one that you feel speaks to you spiritually. Many witches craft their own and integrate meaningful elements although this is a journey that can take years to complete. Alternatively, you can keep a selection based on different forms of spell work.
Place a chalice on your altar to represent the water element, or fill it with water or wine to drink at the conclusion of the ritual. This can be any sort of bowl or cup, but you can incorporate powerful symbols into your altar with use of a dedicated goblet or chalice.
Of course, this list can never be exhaustive and we've skipped over the familiar basics such as a cauldron and pentacle. All these items and more can be found in our altar essentials collection.