Guiding Light: Constructing an Altar for the New Year
The altar is a witch's most magical workspace, and contrary to stereotypical depictions of the altar as a large, carved dresser laden with books, melted candle wax, crystal balls, and dust, your altar doesn't need to be cluttered with "witchy" tools for it to be an effective workspace. There's no "right" way that an altar should look. In fact, just about any surface that you conduct magical workings at can be an altar.
If you do most of your spell-work in the kitchen, baking your magic into pies and cakes, or stirring it into teas and soups, then your kitchen countertop might make the ideal altar space. If you're more preoccupied with books, oracle decks, and zines, your altar space might fit better in the empty corner of a bookshelf. Ultimately, no matter what your magical craft looks like, your altar should be reflective of your interests, your tendencies, and your desires. As you look ahead at the new year, take stock of your major goals and wishes. What is it that you want to cultivate in your life at this time? How can you create physical space in your home for these goals, and what sort of altar space would be most conducive to you as you pursue them? Think of your altar not only as a workspace for your spells, rituals, and self-care practices—but as a beacon, drawing whatever it is you desire toward you. At the beginning of a new year, it's vital that you prepare your altar space for the magical workings ahead.
This altar dedication ritual can be performed year after year, whether your altar is a re-purposed Altoids tin or an antique dresser you bought at a garage sale. Remember, the size, shape, and aesthetic qualities of your altar only matter insofar as they bring you pleasure, inspiration, and comfort. Above all, your altar space should be one that you feel safe in. If you're afraid to touch the tools on your altar because you're afraid of ruining or misusing them, consider whether they're the right tools for you.
For this ritual, you will need:
- Each of the major tools you utilize regularly in your magical practice (i.e. your tarot or oracle deck, a potted plant ally, a favorite crystal, etc.)
- A brand new pillar candle (white or black)
- An old sock or towel to dust with
- A washcloth
- Clean water
- A small bowl (for the water)
Begin by cleansing yourself and the space you're setting up your altar in—do this in whatever way feels best to you. Before you construct your altar for the new year, you'll need to take down your current altar. Deconstruction is part of the process. If taking down your altar triggers any emotions, sit with them for a time. Acknowledge them, thank them, and allow them to pass. Our altars accumulate and hold onto a great deal of energy throughout the year, and the act of restructuring these spaces can free up that energy in unexpected ways. Be gentle with your altar and yourself during this process.
Once the individual parts of your altar have been deconstructed, physically purify them. Make sure to dust each surface thoroughly, from the candle holders to the leaves of any potted plants in this area. Once you've dusted, dip a clean washcloth into your small bowl of water and wash away any lingering dust and dirt from each piece of your altar. If for whatever reason your altar cannot get wet, play some uplifting music near the objects instead. Visualize the stagnant, old energy from the previous year dripping off of each part of your altar like rain.
Once your altar pieces have had some time to dry, re-assemble your altar. Place your magical tools on this new altar in an arrangement that feels beautiful to you! If you'd like to take the extra step, pick (or purchase) flowers to refresh this space. Your guides will thank you for it. Finally, think about what you'd like to accomplish in your altar space in the year to come. Acknowledge the abundance of energy you have yet to work with, the spells you have yet to cast, and the rituals you have yet to perform. Light your candle, and thank your altar for holding space for you to work your magic. Make sure to light this candle each time you sit at your altar, until the candle has burned itself out. Allow the light and the warmth to re-invigorate you, to revitalize your magical workspace, and guide you as you seek out your desires in the months to come.Show more
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