Setting up the Alter

1. The altar cloth- is not in the picture above. It is usually a specific color that relates to the purpose of the altar. It covers the table before anything else goes upon it.

2. The working cloth- This is a cloth that goes over the altar cloth. It is a cloth that is safe to drip things on, like wax or oil. This is to protect the usually more expensive altar cloth.

3. The quarter candles- These are four candles in colors that are appropriate to the element and quarter they represent. Yellow or White= Air and East; Red or Burgandy= Fire and South; Blue= Water and West; Green or Brown= North and Earth. Quarter candles are not always on the altar. Many circles will put free standing pillars or stands to place these candles upon on the out side edge of the sacred circle for ritual. This is one of those areas where a ritual altar may differ from the home altar used daily.

4. Earth bowl filled with Soil- is optional. We put it there because we like to have something that represents each element on the appropriate side of the altar.

5. Wine Chalice- this is a wine glass or some other container used for drinking sacred wine that has been consecrated for magickal use. This is also the Chalice that symbolizes the Goddess.

6. The Goddess candle- is a silver or white candle (provided that the East candle is yellow and not white) that represents the Goddess.

7. The God and Goddess figures- These are usually statues that represent the God and Goddess. We have a beautiful statue of a man and woman embracing. We have seen stag horns around a Goddess statue here. We have also used a female dragon statue to represent the Goddess with the stag horns around it for the God. You can use anything that represents Deity in what ever form.

8. Incense- This is a container that holds the powdered incense that is burned over charcoal in the cauldron in ritual. In some cases, especially in the home altar, we will light a stick or a cone form of incense and place it here.

9. Illumination candles- are there to provide light. Often, we are working in a very dimly lit room, if there is any other light at all. These are important to see what you are doing. They are optional, it depends on how much other light is available.

10. The non-wine chalice- is there for those who are in our group that do not drink an alcoholic beverage. An alternative beverage such as sparkling juice is used here. If everyone in your group is okay with regular wine, you do not have to use the non-wine chalice.

11. The Cauldron- is used for so many things in the Craft that there isn’t enough space here to discuss all of them. On the altar, it is usually used to hold a piece of self-lighting charcoal for which to burn incense.

12. The lighter- can be on the altar or not. We usually have one there as a matter of convenience. As with everything else on the altar, we chose one that is ornate and beautiful. You want everything you choose for your altar to be special and beautiful.

13. Holy Water- is consecrated water that has a special recipe. This is used for a variety of things. Again, we will place this on the West side to represent the element of Water.

14. Earth bowl filled with Holy Water- This bowl is used to combine Earth and Water symbolically. There are several significances in magick for this.

15. Consecrated Oil- is on the altar for a number of things, the most important being the anointing and blessing of tools and circle members or the solitary practitioner.

15. Consecrated Oil- is on the altar for a number of things, the most important being the anointing and blessing of tools and circle members or the solitary practitioner.

16. The Altar Bell- is used in many places in magick and spiritual work.

17. The Wand- is used for channeling energy to a specific direction.

18. The Athame- is used as a blade on planes other than the physical one. The Athame can be used to cut the circle or the door in the circle.

19. The Candle Snuffer- is used to put out candles at the appropriate time. There are many viewpoints on weather of not this should be used in place of simply blowing them out or snuffing a candle with wet finger tips. On this, we feel there is no right or wrong way. We often use the snuffer because we feel it is cleaner and safer. If you have a candle that has been burning long enough for a lot of liquid wax to be present, blowing it out can also get hot wax in your eyes or on the other altar things near by. Snuffing candles with your fingers, even if they are wet, can cause injury as well.

20. The Penticle- represents Earth and is used as a grounding tool. When we do magickal things on the altar, they are often done over the penticle to ground the energy. When the altar is not in use, we usually will place the penticle on the North side of the altar.

*Note- There are many other items that can be used. There are a number of items here that you may not wish to use. A friend of mine is very good at placing pretty things like flowers, crystals, or plant branches to beautify the altar. Be creative and make your altar special.

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