The Pagan Basics series is for those looking to find out more about the basic concepts, symbols and values of paganism. A series of short articles which give explanations to some of paganism’s most fundamental concepts, images and shared understandings.
An altar is a flat surface or area which can be used for several different purposes. Many pagans understand it as a place made for giving offerings. Sometimes covered with a cloth, altars can be elaborate or simple, depending on personal taste and tradition.
An altar can be a place to keep ritual tools when not in use, or a permanent space which is designated as sacred. Many pagans will use an altar as the focus of a ritual, keeping items on it until needed during the ceremony. Many altars contain candles or incense, which are burnt as part of the ritual. Some paths will have very traditional items being kept permanently on an altar, and some will only be set up for a ritual and dismantled afterwards.
A pagan may have an altar set up permanently in their home, this may be small or large, a box, a cabinet top, shelf or other flat space dependent on the individual.
Some altars can be within cabinets or baskets, and some are designed to be made portable.