There are countless ways to design and create your ritual altar. Many pagans prefer a round altar to represent the circle of life, while others prefer a square or rectangular set-up to reflect the four elements. Whatever shape you use to construct your altar, you should probably consider the effects of various building materials on the energy flow around your sacred space.
- Cleansing Your Space
Before you begin work on the spiritual plane, you need to be sure that your physical plane is free of physical debris. Clean your sacred space carefully. Be sure to include vacuum, dust, wash and scrub if necessary. Believe me, this makes all the difference in the world.
- Construction Materials
Metal is often considered an inappropriate material for a ritual altar because it conducts energy away from the witch or magician's environment. Think of how a lightning rod works. It conducts electrical energy (lightning) into the ground so that it will not flow through (and thereby destroy) the other objects around it. The same theory can be applied to magickal energy that practitioners use in ritual. If you spend hours raising energy, you do not want to GROUND before you have a chance to direct it towards your ritual goal. For this reason, many witches prefer wood or stone for the focal point of their sacred space.
OK. You have chosen and cleansed your ritual space. You have created a focal point through a table or other structure that you can work your magick from. Now you need to harness those things from nature that appear to be physical and tangible. Certain substances in nature are referred to as HEDGE TOOLS. Hedge Tools are those objects and substances that exist in our world but also hold sway in other dimensions. Spiritual entities often experience pleasure of discomfort from exposure to Hedge Tools. What are Hedge Tools? They are ritual tools and substances like: salt, incense, candles, oils, stones and many other items. You can use these items like any other ritual tool to bridge the gap between the physical realm and the spiritual realm. This is critical because your sacred space will be your nexus between the worlds when you perform your rituals. You need to have a safe, secure and open portal to the beyond THAT YOU CONTROL. Sprinkling salt, herbs, smudging (waving incense smoke around your sacred space) and performing other Natural Magick rituals over your altar will help to create a baseline for all your future workings. Note: Sage, frankincense, myrrh and benzoin are the traditional incenses used for consecration. A fresh white candle (or multiple white candles) are typically used to chart out your space on the astral plane as well as the physical plane.
Once you have your herbs, oils, incense and similar items together, you can begin the process of charging your sacred space with energy. There are many incantations around that you can use to declare your area as your own sacred space. Remember that you are not just declaring temporary ownership over the physical space you will occupy, but also over the astral space. Try an incantation like the following. It is, by far, the most effective I have used over the years:
For now be mine
The ground below
Be this my shrine.
The air above
To left and right
And 'neath I bind.
By soil and wind
Through fire and sea
May gods entrust
This space to me.
Whatever incantation you use, be sure to remember that your dominion over a particular area should only be referred to in the temporary sense. After all, you may move away. You decide to spend most of your time somewhere else. Eventually, you will die. Your control over a particular area should be acknowledged as temporary so that you don't appear foolish to the spirits who might want to help you. Furthermore, your energy will feed into that area. Of course that area will also feed you, but if you do not use it regularly you can experience a "drain" of your energy. You don't want that. So, be sure to only declare sacred space in areas that you want to use. In short, don't try to declare the entire state of California as your own personal sacred space. There would be consequences to such an act. Foremost among them would be that it would diminish your power since you would be spread too thin. Declaring sacred space for anyone to use is different. You can do this wherever you wish because anyone who benefits from it will also feed it. However, you want to limit those spaces that you consider to be particularly powerful for you alone to as few as possible.
- Chant Repetition
When you've found the perfect site to create personal sacred space for your ritual work, be sure to recite your chosen incantation exactly TEN times in a row. A witch ladder or rosary is often useful for this. Ten is a magickal number that represents success and happiness. You may, if you wish, chant the incantation for another EIGHT repetitions after pausing in meditation. The number eight represents power. We can all use a little of that.