The altar is the central hub of witchcraft. It’s where you communicate with Deity, it’s where you cast spells, and perform rituals. It’s where you honor the cycle of the year, and where you recognize the power within. You light candles and incense, and lay out pretty cloths with colors and symbols to strengthen your magic. As a priestess for the Morrigan, the majority of my work is done at the altar of the Queen of the Witches. Naturally, the day after Mabon I cleared away leaves and symbols of fall in favor of Samhain style altar pieces. Here is a neat poster I found on Pinterest. I don’t know if it’s copyright protected, but just to make it clear it was on Pinterest, it is not a creation of own:
My altar has a black, lacy, altar cloth, a fun witchy light I painted myself, a pumpkin, acorns I made from clay and an acorn I found, as well as an offering bowl I made from clay using a pyrex bowl as a mold. My homemade incense has cinnamon, dried apple peel, vervain, dragons blood, ginger and mugwort – occasionally I will throw a whole clove onto the candle where I sprinkle the herbal mix to give it a nice strong spicy scent that protects as much as it soothes.(whenever I use charcoal disks it sets off my smoke alarms so I opt to put the herbs on the candle dedicated to the Morrigan). I have my typical altar pieces – handmade candle holders, clay and wire sculptures for offerings, my mortar and pestle, and my dagger is kept on the wall next to it.
Dagger is nestled safely in the Trinity Knot bag hanging on the wall… Gotta keep sharp and dangerous things out of my sons reach!
I haven’t set it up yet, but. I have been taking copious notes in my grimoire planning out my ancestor altar. I have gathered photos of my grandparents, of pets, and notes about symbols that could represent spiritual ancestors. I don’t know for sure if I am descended from Celts, but my DNA origin test showed that my DNA originated in Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Eastern Europe, and Nigeria-all locations the Celts would have inhabited. So I will have Celtic symbols as tributes to them, and Native American symbols to honor my more recent ancestors- as close as my great-great-grandparents were Black Foot, Iroquois, and Abenaki Indians. (and before you get all up in arms for using the term Indian, I have a close friend that are Abenaki 100% and he has said numerous times “I hate being called Native American – I’m an Indian dammit! and his family all nodded and clapped in agreement, so I’m using that term in respect for their wishes. I have Indian on all sides of my family, but because of the Dutch in my moms’ blood I didn’t inherit my dad’s red skin so I look like, well, a white girl. But in the words of Moana, their ways “They call me”)
Anyways end rant lol. I’ve read that on an ancestor altar, a white fringed altar cloth is traditional. As is using crystals at each corner. I will be passing on that, but wanted to lyk for your own purposes. I will have Indian corn for my Indian ancestors, Celtic statues of animals and trinity knots for my ancestors from across the sea, and photos for my more recent loved ones. In the middle I will make a bowl and each day I will write something to them. On Samhain I will pull out the paper, start a fire in the little clay bowl, and read each one aloud. Then I’ll toss it into the fire. I will then fire-gaze, until a spirit, or spirits come through with responses/answers to my notes. I will have a bowl or plate to leave food, a little cup for spring water or milk. On Samhain I will put candles on each corner, and candles in the windows so that my Ancestors will be guided by the candle light, while any other entities are scared away – any altar generates a lot of psychic energy and there are entities drawn to that energy like a moth to a flame. That’s why it’s so important to metaphysically clean up after spells and rituals.
The Ancestor altar is not a place for spell casting, but a place for the magic of love. It’s a place to communicate, connect and cleanse yourself of worries and doubt, and to fill your soul with love and wisdom.