How To Create Altars: An Intro

how to create an altar

At-Home Altar 101

So you’re looking to create an altar.  Fantastic! 

You’ve probably staked out a space in your home already for your sacramental area.  This flat, horizontal surface will be accessible, in a place of honor or reverence.  Some folks need their altars to be private-- use a closet, drawer, or box to keep your altar tools safe. As with all magick, it needs to work for you. There’s no perfect way to complete your altar, but there are a few guardrails that humans have intuitively fallen to for eons. 

Wherever you set up altar camp, ensure your space is clean.  Physically and energetically.  Burn palo santo, rosemary, white copal, or any other clearing herb.  Get your rags out and wipe down your altar area with an energetic oil or cleanser that feels fresh. I love lemon or peppermint oil, diluted.  


Altars can be large and cumulative.  In my Hollywood apartment, I used my vintage leather and wood bar to house plants, statues, candelabras, and honey jars.  It was a focal point in my living room.  For this large and semi-public altar, I’d add, subtract, and cleanse less often than I would my personal altar. 

My personal altar was more medium sized, taking up the top of a repainted Ikea computer desk.  The drawer held intent papers, my grimoire, candles, incense, and pens to take note after mediations or rituals. This bedroom altar was my personal altar, one that changed often, was kept super-clean, and basically focused my intent in sharper directions.  

Altars can also be small, ad hoc, and portable.  I think of the setups I’d carry to work with me (pre-COVID).  A couple of crystals, a mason jar of ocean water, and a small toy, photograph, sticker, or statue that invoked some deity or energy would serve as a modest ode to intention as I worked at my desk.  (Malachite is a great work stone-- keep the busybodies off your back.)


Whatever size and location you decide to place your altar in, a simple way to kick off your altar build is to honor the the elements.  I’ll be going deep into elemental altar pieces over the next month: Fire, Air, Water, Earth, Spirit.  For a simple start, think:  Candles, Incense, Cup, Plant, Statue. 

Your statue can be a photograph, sigil, crystal, toy, or drawing.  Standing in for life force, the energy that weaves through everything in the universe, this statue is a representation of the vision and world you want to manifest via your new altar. 

These instructions may feel vague-- but they’re meant to be freeing.  An altar is connected to you.  It’s a physical manifestation of the elements and energy you’re calling in to your life.  As your altar develops, and your altar practice grows, play around.  Use color, photography, sigils, tarot cards, trinkets, etc.  


Some baseline ideas to keep in mind:  Altars are a place for concentrated and calm meditation.  Anything on your altar that makes your mind feel cluttered can go.  There is a time to let your altar sit and percolate, and a time to clean it up and refresh. You’ll know when those moments come and go.  For those with secret altar spaces, enact it when needed.  Thank it and replace when done. 

Do you have any questions?  Do you want to share your first altar with the Neon Altar community?  Send me an email:  By sharing, you’ll give me permission to share with the Neon Altar audience (with full credit, of course!)

I look forward to hearing from you!

Next week:  AIR ELEMENTS.

Suzy Mae