How to Create an Altar on a Budget

I wanted to write this article to help those who don’t have much money to spend on creating their own altar. I thought this especially relevant with the whole covid19 pandemic that we’ve all just experienced/ are going through. I wanted to bring something creative and positive to those who are younger and who are maybe exploring witchcraft for the first time, or, joining Wicca or maybe just figuring out your own path as a Pagan. This article is based around creating an altar for Mabon (since this is the Sabbat I am currently celebrating) but this can be applied to any Sabbat or occasion that you want.

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Six easy steps to building an altar on a budget:

First Step: First you need to sit down and think about about what you are creating your altar for (For example: A Sabbat, like Mabon). Then you can read around and get some ideas (I read books and articles and did a little online research while making notes of what I liked and wanted to include on my altar). Making notes is good because you can quickly figure out what is going to be cost effect for you and what is not. Always make sure you write important things like this down, in your Book of Shadows.

Second Step: Have a look around your home for things you can include or use for your altar. For example, I created my own candle holder out of ramekins and wine glasses. I filled them with soil and salt to support the candles. It is a creative solution if you don’t have candle holders, which also incorporates the earth and fire elements (I will include a detailed list of all the things I used and what I created from them at the end of the article).

Third Step: Figure out your budget. How much can you realistically spend on your altar. Write down things that you want to buy then think of different places where you can go to shop around for the cheapest price. For example, you can pick up candles cheap, and you can always get things that are on sale at the grocery store or thrifty/bargin stores.

Fourth Step: Mother nature is free. This is the most significant part of creating your altar and working with the energies of the season. Go outside and take a walk around. See what you can find on the ground. I found lovely autumn leaves, twigs, fallen fruits etc. You can also pick up any rocks or stones that may call to you that you have a connection with. If there is a tree that you would like to take something from, go to the tree and touch the tree ask the tree if it is ok to take from it, use your intuition to figure out if it is a yes or no (pay attention to your feelings, you will know the answer, trust yourself)

NOTE: If you plane to take something that has not yet fallen to the ground, make sure you do it carefully and respectfully with an appropriate knife or scissors.

Fifth Step: Decide where you want to put your altar. You don’t need to have anything fancy. I used an oval glass table with silver legs (I used this because for me, it represent the feminine energy and this is important to me). You can use pretty much anything that has a flat surface that you feel is appropriate for your altar (after all, this is your altar!).

Sixth step: Get creative. Now is the time to put together everything you have gather to create your altar. You can do what I did, and put everything on there and then play around with the location of everything till it feels right.

My Budget Altar for Mabon: What I did …

Following all the steps I just laid out for you above, the first thing I did was cut an old red shirt and purple top that I didn’t wear any more, to use as my altar cloth (I choose these colors to represent the grapes of the last harvest and the red of the changing leaves and sky), I also use a multicolored scarf of mine that has the shapes of leaves on it, all three together created my altar cloth.

Here you can see: homemade candle holder, candles, fallen leaves, dried apple rings, glass offering bowl, rock, branch, purple altar cloth.

I absolutely love candles (as most Witches do) so I went to a store where I knew I could pick some up, very inexpensively. I also bought some dried apple rings and pumpkin seeds (also very inexpensive) to put in small glass bowls that I purchased for less than a dollar each.

Here you can see: Homemade candle holder with candles, twigs & leaves, apple cider, fruit, pumpkin seeds & red altar cloth.

The things I used for my candles holders are: white ramekins, wine glasses and small bathroom glass dish (used to hold a tooth brush holder). To support my candles so they stay upright I used some earth that I had left over from planting this summer and sea salt.

On my way back home from the store I kept a look out for anything that I wanted to add to my altar, the things I found and collected were: fall leaves, branch, twigs, nut shells and a couple of stones.

To make a very inexpensive pentacle I used aluminium foil (I wanted to include the silver aspect to represent the goddess feminine energy once again). This was very easy to do. All you need to do is tear off a square piece (so the length is same as the width). Fold them up, then press them down so they will lay flat. Make sure they are all the same size (you can use the length as is, or, like me, you can cut them smaller). Then tear a much larger piece of foil. This needs to be big enough to form a circle around your pentagram. When you have the length you want, fold the foil and start to shape into a circle. Once your happy with the size and shape, lay it down on your altar and use the 5 straight pieces to construct your pentagram in the circle (you might need to play around a bit and press them down together to make it stay how you want). If you want to go a bit more elaborate I would recommend reading this article on how to make a homemade pentacle in three different ways.

Here is my finished Mabon altar on a budget (I spent less than $10):

CONCLUSION:

Creating an altar and celebrating a Sabbat is such a happy and enjoyable time. You can create something that reflects the Sabbat you are celebrating, the deities you wish to connect with and the seasonal energies that are all around you. Whether you spend a lot or a little, you can create an altar. If you would like further direction and ideas for creating an altar I suggest you read this article. Enjoy! and blessed be.

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