DIY Altarcraft

DIY Altarcraft

by Paige Curtin

Eclipses are opportunities for change and healing—the past surges into the present to be reckoned with. How we reckon with old wounds, old policies, old reactions, and old traumas determine new cycles of change and growth.

Okay, so maybe we missed the boat on Spring Cleaning... but it's always a good time to refresh your altar! We spent some time pre-Solstice in the Treasure Palace re-building our sacred spaces around the shop, and given the intense social and cosmic climate we thought it might be nice to share some tips and truths with our digital coven about constructing witchy workbenches.

Shrine on, altars up!

If you've ever been to a religious service or memorial, you've likely seen an altar and/or a shrine. Since the differences are small we use the terms pretty interchangeably, but technically a shrine is a permanent or semi-permanent homage to a person, place, deity, or idea that is decorated with adornments and offerings (think those gorgeous Day of the Dead shrines from Mexico). An altar is a more temporary space where you lay out your tools for spellworking (think The Magician card in a Tarot deck). There's no one way that an altar looks, because the whole idea is that it's unique to you and your intentions. The offerings you add to the shrine are ones that have a particular significance to you, whether that's an ancestor's favorite food or a rock you found outside. Altars are effective because of the power you give them; it's a space yes, but it's also a moment. A moment when the candle is flickering just like that and the incense is rising just like that and maybe you feel goosebumps or your Third Eye buzzing away and you know you're making magic. Your body can be an altar during moments of pleasure, your stove can be an altar if you're cooking a magic stew. Some folks even carry around "pocket altars", portable containers filled with spell ingredients for witching on the fly (Altoid tins make excellent, discreet pocket altars).  

No but really, what goes on an altar?

Some witches like to represent all five elements in their spellwork: Earth, Air, Water, Fire, and Spirit. It's a way of aligning yourself with the forces of nature, and acknowledging the space you occupy.

Some ideas for sacred objects to represent the elements:
Earth: Crystals, sand, dirt, herbs, salt
Air: Incense, feathers, pictures of butterflies/birds, a bubble machine
Water: Well... water. Also seashells, liquor, pictures of marine life, a souvenir cup from Disney on Ice
Fire: Candles (battery-operated counts), pennies, Carnelian, Citrine, a lava lamp, a picture of the Sun or a campfire
Spirit: This is the REALLY fun one because Spirit can be... anything. Pictures of ancestors, statues, lucky charms, childhood toys, heirlooms, weird stuff you found at yard sales. Spirit is like, the battery of the altar. It jumpstarts your intuition so you can focus your intentions. You can also represent the senses on your altar to help pull yourself into the moment, mind and body. This is especially great for meditating or achieving a trance state in your sacred space.

Some ideas for sacred objects to represent the senses:
Taste: Food, drink... edible lube, if that's what you're up to
Touch: Sand, rough crystals, smooth crystals, something very cold, something very hot, a Beanie Baby
Sound: Music, nature sounds, ASMR videos
Sight: Candles, pictures, Tarot cards, statues, the view out your window
Intuition: See "Spirit" above

Okay so now what do I *do* at my altar?

Now you do magic! Easy! In all seriousness, it's up to you, boo. If you wanna dance in front of it, hell yeah. If you wanna sit quietly and just let the magic of your space hold you, sounds great. If you want to focus on each object in turn and speak an intention aloud, well that would be cool too. You can cast a big protection bubble around your shrine and imagine it extending out to cover your whole house, your whole neighborhood, the whole world. You can call on Spirits or faeries by name and ask for messages or thank them for their blessings. You can write emails to your representatives or fill out a new job application. Whatever you decide to do at your altar, know that it's yours alone unless you want to share it. Don't feel pressured to post it on social media, but also don't feel ashamed for showing off your sacred space. Your practice is what you make it.



The days of the week carry just as much energy and symbolism as the months of the year or the phases of the moon, and that can be helpful for witches who like to time their spells with the vibe of the moment!Inside you'll find practices, associations and allies for each day of the week to help you infuse every day with magic.