Hi, my loves, and welcome to WiccaNow. Recently I’ve been a bit of an eclectic witch and have been writing posts on all sorts of things that have been interesting me recently, like this healing spell, this post on magickal indoor plants, a post about Ostara and most recently this guide to setting up your own witchy altar. Today I want to continue on from my last post and talk about some of the more common witchy altar decorations you might come across when building your own witch’s altar.
As I mentioned in my last post, what you decorate your witchy altar with is completely up to you and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It’s a personal reflection of you and your relationship to your craft and should contain things you believe in, that bring you good energy and that you love. Less is often more but again, that’s just a personal opinion.
Your altar can be a constantly evolving thing, which changes as you do. You might find something you love and have to add. You might change it to reflect the seasons or the moon phases. You may change it if you want to call something specific into your life.
I’ve been trying to draw abundance, welcome spring and banish illness recently. Because of this, I’ve been using tonka beans to make my pentagram, and have added a family heirloom (a chunky ring) with a citrine to my altar. I’ve also added a fresh garlic bulb to banish bad vibes and illness, along with sage which I intermittently burn. I’ve added hyacinths (one of my favourite flowers) to honour spring, and because they smell amazing and make me happy.
My Top 19 Witchy Altar Decorations
So, without further ado, here is my guide to some common elements you might choose to have on your witch’s altar. These are in alphabetical order, not in ranking of importance as one thing isn’t more important than another.
Witchy Altar Decoration #1 Altar Cloth
An altar cloth’s main purpose is to protect the altar and it’s also one of the easiest ways to decorate for the season. For spring you would traditionally use a white cloth, or another gentle colour that reminds you of the growing season. Accordingly, you might choose to use oranges, browns and reds for autumn, dark blues and blacks for winter and yellows and bright colours for summer.
Some people like to embroider their altar cloths with symbols or words, or just with things they love. For example, I have one that I embroidered suns onto for Imbolc.
Witchy Altar Decoration #2 Anthame
This is a ceremonial knife that is often used to channel or direct energies. Traditionally it has a black handle and a double edge. It’s symbolic of fire and is used to draw casting or ritual circles. It’s a knife that is used purely as an energy harnessing tool and you would never cut anything with it. It can however be used to carve symbols into candles and things.
Witchy Altar Decoration #3 Artwork
Do you enjoy making art? Do you have a favourite artist that gives you good energy? Artwork is something you can absolutely add to your altar if you want to. Maybe you want to illustrate your favourite plant and place that on your altar, or maybe you’ve found an image of a goddess that you find particularly compelling. Anything you love has a welcome place on your altar, and will bring good energy with it, artwork included.
Witchy Altar Decoration #4 Bell
A bell is a common altar decoration and it’s usually used to open and close rituals and ceremonies. It helps to “clear the air” by cleansing the energies before, during and after your ceremony with its healing vibrations. It can help you focus, much the same as a gong is used when you’re meditating.
Bells are often associated with the goddess and traditionalists will place it on the left side of the altar along with their goddess figure. I don’t prescribe to this and if I’m using a bell, I don’t stick to always having it on one or the other side of my altar.
Witchy Altar Decoration #5 Book of Shadows
The book of shadows is something that I’ve written a whole separate post on, so check it out for more detailed info. This book is basically your guidebook to your practice of witchcraft. It contains all your spells and notes on them, along with rituals you’ve learned or wanted to try. It’s sort of like your witchcraft journal and is very personal. Make your own or start finding spells and rituals to add from other witches. If you are using content from other practitioners, make sure that you have their consent before taking any of their spells!
Witchy Altar Decoration #6 Broom
While this may seem like a strange altar decoration, let me explain! Witches have a long history with brooms (and in more recent media portrayals, with vacuum cleaners) but this isn’t the reason that they would be added to an altar.
Brooms are traditionally used to “sweep” bad or negative energies and influences away from the person doing the sweeping. Having one on your altar represents the idea of cleansing and purification. Doing any magickal work requires a cleansed working area and “sweeping away” the malevolent feelings and energies that might be lingering is always an excellent idea.
You don’t have to have a full-sized broom on your altar. You can use a small paintbrush or anything else that reminds you of a broom. You could also make your own from herbs in your garden. Consider a broom made from dried rosemary for extra-strong protective and cleansing energies.
Witchy Altar Decoration #7 Candles
Candles represent transformative energy and also the elements of fire and air on your altar. I tend to always have at least one on mine, because they produce a soft, beautiful light and really are magickal if you ask me. If you’re interested in learning more about candles and candle magick, check out this article I wrote about it.
Witchy Altar Decoration #8 Cauldron
Cauldrons are both a practical and symbolic tool to have on your witchy altar. They have a really long history as a cooking vessel, they’ve been found as early as the late bronze age (3200-600BCE). Did you know they have three legs so that they could sit better over the fire better?
The cauldron is often used as the symbol of the Goddess Cerridwen. On your altar, the cauldron is a symbol of rebirth and abundance, as well as symbolising the divine feminine and the womb. Quite a powerful object don’t you think?
It’s most often used to burn incense or offerings, or to mix herbs. You can use any kind of fire-proof vessel that you like as your “cauldron”, it doesn’t have to be the traditional 3 legged pot. You can use it for divination work such as scrying, or to burn petitions in. It’s quite a multi-functional tool!
Witchy Altar Decoration #9 Chalice
The chalice holds a lot of symbolism on an altar. It’s not a tool that would be used super frequently, but it’s one that is often present because of what it represents. It’s another representation of the goddess and the power of the womb, hence the feminine power. It’s also symbolic of the water element and you might choose to fill it with a little water to strengthen its power.
Depending on what kind of spell work you’re doing, you might want to have a wine offering in your chalice, which you MAY (read definitely will) want to drink yourself later. Filling the chalice with red wine makes it an extra potent symbol of the womb and it’s magickal ability to produce life. Woman really are forces to be reckoned with, aren’t they?
Witchy Altar Decoration #10 Crystals
Crystals hold a lot of their own power and can be a great thing to add to your altar. They are easily changeable, look beautiful and strengthen the force of your intentions. Pick crystals that feel great in your hand and that you love looking at.
Depending on what you want to manifest, you can change the crystals on your altar regularly. If you are curious to read more about crystals check out some of the posts Amythest has written on this topic, including these posts on how to charge your crystals, the power of crystal grids, amethyst, rose quartz, emerald, peridot and sodalite and a fascinating post on EMF blocking with crystals for those of you working a lot with computers.
Witchy Altar Decoration #11 Dried Herbs and Plants
I’ve been having a love affair with the natural world recently so I’m really into adding herbs and plants to my altar. Because your altar is a reflection of you and your craft, your option of plants really is limitless. You may choose to change what you have on your altar on a really regular basis, or you may choose to have specific dried herbs and plants that always live there. Or you may have both.
I’ve been changing my dried herbs and plants a lot depending on how I’m feeling. Currently I’ve got sage to burn and also some garlic to ward off malevolent energies and illness. This set up will change often depending on what I want to direct my energy to. Often I’ll have a mix of cinnamon and sugar on my altar to draw sweetness and abundance to me.
I’ve written a whole bunch of posts about the natural world and the magical properties of plants and herbs. Check out my botanical witchipedia to help you choose some plants and herbs for your own altar. If you’re interested in specific things, I’ve written about herbs for protection, herbs for love, herbs for money and herbs for luck along with posts on cinnamon, rosemary and lavender.
Witchy Altar Decoration #12 Goddess and God Figure
If you are Wiccan, you’ll most probably have a goddess or/and god figure or symbol on your altar. This isn’t necessarily something you have to have if you don’t want to. Obviously, for some people the connection with deities is the most important part of their craft, while for others it’s not as vital or necessary to their practice.
Choosing what kind of figure you want to have on your witchy altar is something that’s really personal. Don’t feel like you have to include the traditional Triple Goddess or Horned God symbols if you don’t want to. I found sculptures that I loved and I consider those as the figures of my deities. They may be abstract, but to me, they represent my relationship to the divine much better than a traditional symbol does.
It’s traditional to have the God figure on the right side of your altar and the Goddess figure on the left side as the right is considered masculine and the left feminine. Follow this if you like, but don’t feel like you have to, I certainly don’t! I change where my figures are depending on how I feel and what feels natural to me on the day. To me, everything is about equality, and is specifically about not having to choose sides.
Witchy Altar Decoration #13 Incense
This is something that many people like to add to their witches altars in order to represent the element of air. It’s also a way to include magickal herbs or spices into your altar without having to have them on hand. Incense is relatively cheap and comes in so many different varieties that you’re sure to find something that suits you.
Incense is a great way to cleanse and purify the space you want to work in to rid it of any lingering energies that might interfere with your magickal practice. Did you know that you can even use incense to cleanse your crystals?
Witchy Altar Decoration #14 Jewellery
This is a fun one that I often use. Jewellery, particularly jewellery that’s been passed down to you by a family member or even a friend, comes imbued with so much powerful energy that it can be a great thing to add to your altar.
I currently have a family ring on mine which has a citrine in it. I was wearing it a few weeks ago and a fellow witch literally had her hair stand on end when she saw me wearing it. She told me to make sure I kept it close, because she had the strongest feeling that it was protecting me, keeping me healthy and drawing good energy and abundance to me. She didn’t need to tell me twice and I’ve been wearing it or have had it on my altar since then.
If you have a piece of jewellery that you particularly love, put it on your altar when you’re not wearing it! Depending on what stones you have in your jewellery, you can use it like you would crystals and use that particular stones energy and magickal properties.
Witchy Altar Decoration #15 Pentacle
While a pentacle is commonly seen as a pentagram (the two often get confused), in actual fact a pentacle is a talisman that’s used in magickal workings. It can be made from paper, cloth, wood or metal and is almost always a flat disk or a circle. This disk usually has a magickal symbol, like a pentagram, on it.
The disk symbolises the grounding energy of the earth and you can inscribe, draw or engrave your favourite symbol onto it. Drawing a circle with a pentagram or similar in it would have the same effect which is why we so often see the pentagram inscribed in a circle to make a pentacle.
Witchy Altar Decoration #16 Plants
As mentioned above, I really love herbs and plants! I tend to always have a living plant on my altar as I love the vibrant energy and vitality having a living thing on my altar brings. Plants can also represent the air element of your altar as they produce oxygen, while also representing the earth element because they grow in the soil. I love that living plants can symbolise these two opposites, they bring total harmony to my altar.
What plant you choose to include in your altar will also affect what energy you draw. For example adding a cacti will provide you with protection, basil will draw money, St Johns Wort is a healing plant, Hyacinth will draw love (particularly love for yourself) and bamboo will bring luck. Think about what you need in your life at the moment and choose plants that correspond to that.
I will often use cut flowers or leaves to represent the season, I have a hyacinth on my altar at the moment (smells so amazing!!!). Consider what plants are currently blooming, connect with nature by collecting a pretty branch here or there and make sure to always thank the plant you take something from for its sacrifice!
Witchy Altar Decoration #17 Salt
Salt is the ultimate banishing tool and will protect you from any malevolent spirits or energies that may have crept into your home. We’ve all seen a witchy movie where a character spreads salt across the doorstep or makes a protective circle right? I tend to always have some salt on my altar as it can’t hurt to have protection when doing anything magickal?
If you’re interested in learning how to make a special banishing salt, check out the recipe I just posted on the topic.
Witchy Altar Decoration #18 Wand
The wand is an interesting one that can represent both air and fire, depending on what tradition you follow. Its often used if you are attempting to contact particular spirits or to cast spells with.
The wand is considered a masculine object (due to its inherently phallic nature) and as such is the opposite of the chalice.
If you want to make your own wand, think about the magical properties of the material that you plan on using. Elder is considered an all-round wand in terms of magical properties but be very careful if you plan on making your own elder wand as it’s considered a sacred tree.
Cutting an elder tree is considered to be an extremely bad idea so always search for fallen elder branches to make your wand. If you are lucky enough to find fallen elder wood, you’ll have an absolutely beautiful and powerful wand that was meant for you.
Check out this blog post I wrote about wands to learn more.
Witchy Altar Decoration #19 Water
Water is a base element and as such it’s great to incorporate it onto your altar. Water can be used for divination work such a scrying. Because balance is important to a lot of witches, having a representation of all 4 elements is considered vital on an altar. Water brings calm, cleansing and healing energy to your altar.
If you are incorportating a chalice into your altar, you can fill it with water. Having any kind of liquid is considered as water, so having wine also works extremely well. Representations of the sea are also considered as a water element, so you could consider incorporating seashells onto your altar if you have some. There are also water crystals you can use, such as lapis lazuli, sodalite or aquamarine.
So my darling, I hope this gives you a good overview of some of the witchy altar decorations you could choose to incorporate onto your own witch’s altar.
I’m sending you all healing, loving energy,
Until next time,