How To Create An Altar

Can you explain how to put an altar together? I’m not even sure where to start.

The first step to creating an altar is to figure out your intention. What would you like to use an altar for? Is there something new you’d like to manifest in your life?

The next step is to gather some artifacts, or objects that represent your intention. This is the fun part.

How To Create An Altar

Here are just a few very basic ideas of what can be used as altar artifacts:

A Chalice or Bowl
Placing water, salt water, wine or other liquids in a chalice or bowl can represent cleansing, purification and other intentions. It can also represent water, one of the four existential elements.

Incense or Essential Oil
A sacred scent can represent the element of air as well as help you shift consciousness.

Gemstones and Crystals are said to be a perfect balance of Earth energy, making them more powerful than other Earth elements. Crystal grids can link energies together to create a more powerful energy flow.

Candles often represent the element of fire among other symbolic meanings. Or a single candle can represent all four of the elements: Earth, Water, Air and Fire. Using the elements in balance creates an energy grid on your altar for more life force energy.

The Fifth Element
Some people associate the fifth element with spirit or energy; each point of a pentacle often used by witches can represent the five elements.

Tarot Cards can be used as reminders of important messages.

Certain colors of any object can also be symbolic and therefore carry unique, collective energies. I like to use white candles to represent my core inner being, or my true self.

A Knife or Wand
This can be used to channel energy toward a certain direction.

Sun, planetary and moon cycles not only effect the climates, weather, terrain and ocean tides… they also affect our own lives. Moon cycles and planetary patterns can add certain energies to our altar which is why some people create or use their altar during say, a new moon or summer solstice. You can also use artifacts that represent a season, such as a pinecones or maple leaves for the Autumn Equinox.

Day and Time
Certain times of the day or days of the week might hold certain associations for you; for example, Monday mornings might represent a new beginning or fresh start to you, so you can set aside that time to spend with your dream manifestation altar each week if you’d like. There are also certain collective energies involved with times and days. Saturday commonly represents a day of rest and relaxation.

How Do Altars Work
My Fall Equinox/Mabon Altar

So do I just get a bunch of cool things together and put them in a spot?

Sure, you can do that. You can then contemplate why you like those particular things. What do they mean to you? Is it something that you’d like more of in your life?

Or you can instead decide what you’d like to use your altar for. Meditation or a tarot reading can be used to figure out what you would like to release, focus on or manifest in your life at this time.

Then look for objects that personally represent that thing to release, focus on or manifest.You can place these objects together in a convenient place, being considerate of anyone else who might use that space. Altars can be “permanent” or temporary.

You can arrange your altar in the shape of a fluid “map” that flows from one element to the next. For example, if you’re using tarot cards, you can set them up in a linear flow from left to right. The first card might remind you of something to release or let go of, the next card can represent your self-empowerment. The next card can symbolize what you’d like to manifest. The sequence represents an order of events in which one step naturally leads to the next.

Other elements or crystals might correspond to certain steps of the path you’d like to establish. You can place those items next to the corresponding cards. Your path can also take the shape of a circle, pentacle or whatever makes the most sense to you.

Wow, okay. Anything else?

Here are few more tips when choosing your altar elements:

It’s not a matter of quantity of elements, but how open and connected we are to a certain element. Too many elements can create an chaotic effect; one element can be just as powerful as twenty in that sense.

Taking time to align our energy with the energies of our altar elements can create a more powerful effect, but it’s not necessary.

Each element brings a certain conscious energy to empower your altar; the more we open to these energy channels, the more likely it can create an effect.

If we resist a particular energy stream, we may not be ready for that intention which is perfectly okay. It’s important to honor our process and our current place in it which is why creating our altar needs to be led by the heart rather than forcing our heart to do something we don’t genuinely want to do.

If we’re not ready for a certain intent, the universe will let us know by bringing our doubts and emotional blocks to the surface so we can face and clear them.


Good luck! If you’ve ventured to create an altar, I’d love to hear about your experience if you’d like to share.

Elizabeth, also known as Intuitive Fish, is a healthy vegan mama living in the Pacific Northwest. Her life mission involves researching the esoteric arts, guiding souls along their awakening path, and contributing to a world of humans doing what they love. She’s available for readings and counseling, and would love to be your friend on social media.