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Want to take your spiritual and spell work outdoors? Try a Wiccan outdoor altar! Creating altars outside is great to get in touch with nature and bring your craft directly to the elements.
Wiccan outdoor altars are an ideal way to bring your indoor practice outside into nature. Altars can be permanent or temporary. You can set them up in forests, at the beach, in parks, or even in your backyard. When creating an outdoor altar, consider materials, location, size, season, and weather.
In case you are a newbie, Wiccan rituals are typically done on an altar. The true spirit and magick of a ritual resides within yourself and the Universe, so the altar is really just a tool. However, it is a powerful tool.
Altars are structures upon which ceremonies are held and offerings are made. They often contain both symbolic and functional tools like chalices, athames, wands, crystals, statues, cauldrons, candles, and more.
Altars are useful and convenient to use whether you are worshipping deities, meditating, charging, or any number of other magickal rituals.
Why Wiccan Outdoor Altars?
You can certainly place an altar anywhere indoors or outdoors. Your comfort and preference is most important. However, according to Wiccans, it is often a better and more unique experience to place your altar outside.
Outdoors, you are directly in the elements. You can feel the cool breeze, get warmed by the sun, and listen to birds sing. Being outdoors can also be conducive to mindfulness work and spell casting, as those activities require great focus.
Check out our article on Wiccan outdoor rituals for further detail.
How to Create a Wiccan Outdoor Altar
One type of outdoor Wiccan altar is a permanent altar. This is an altar that you create in a space that you own, meant for regular use. For example, it could be an altar assembled in your backyard.
Permanent altars are typically more sturdy and more elaborate than a temporary altar (discussed next). Since the altar will not move, you can use heavier items like sturdy wooden tables, large crystals and stones, and other bulky items. You can even create permanent items, for example by hiring a carpenter, to create a custom altar tables or cabinets for you.
For a permanent altar, consider that it will rest outdoors in a variety of weather conditions. Don’t leave anything on the altar which you do not want to get wet, freeze, or sit in the hot sun.
You might be interested in a temporary altar (sometimes called a travel altar) when you’re on the go. For example, while on a hike or a on a witch nature walk, you might like a small altar you can set up for some outdoor devotions. A temporary altar is one that you assemble at a location, do your worship, and then pack up and take home.
Since a temporary altar might be far away from your home, consider the weather when you go. Pack materials which will prepare you for rain, snow, wind, or any number of seasonal conditions. Do not bring sensitive items with you that might be ruined by water, sun, or snow.
The most important thing to consider when choosing a location is where you feel comfortable. Your altar should be in a place where you feel peaceful and at ease.
More practically, it’s best to find a flat surface for your altar. Small tables and tree stumps work very well for this purpose. A simple blanket placed on flat ground can also function well. Also consider that you will want to walk on all sides of your altar, so avoid locations with large obstructions that will prevent you from doing so.
Also consider environmental protection when choosing a location. Your altar should not disturb or harm any nearby plants or wildlife. The space should remain as it was before you arrived. And always carry out everything which you brought in. See out disclaimers for more information.
Psst! Also be mindful of rules and restrictions in each location, and never trespass! Many parks and trails might prohibit weapons, in which case you’ll need to leave your athame at home. If you want to work with fire, this will also affect your location choice.
Outdoor Location Alternatives
Many Wiccans find it difficult to create an outdoor altar for any number of reasons.
Some live in a very urban environment, and don’t have a car to drive to a remote natural place. Some are disabled and aren’t comfortable navigating rocky or uneven terrains.
However the good news is that whatever your personal situation, there are alternatives!
- Place your altar indoors but next to the window. It will place it closest to the outdoors, and allow sunlight and moonlight to still stream through. If you can open the window, even better.
- Include a lot of natural items on your altar. Rocks, stones, crystals, feathers, animal bones, shells, acorns, leaves, flowers, dirt, gravel… the list goes on!
- Grow indoor plants and herbs to cultivate the outdoors indoors. (See our guide on the best herbs to grow for Wiccans.)
- Listen to nature sounds while performing your ritual. There are many meditation and nature sound apps to listen with headphones on your phone, or you can invest in a nature sound machine to permeate the entire space (these are great for sleep too.) Ocean waves, a crackling fire, a bubbling stream, or chirping birds can all enhance your altar naturally.
Cleanse the Space
Perform a salt ritual before placing your altar. A salt ritual will allow you to cleanse the spot and remove negativity that might disturb your peace while at the altar. It will create a positive environment and good vibes for you to worship in.
In addition, the ritual itself is purifying. It will give a soothing and calming effect, and it is a mentally and spiritually healthy step to take before constructing your altar.
Materials for Construction
As noted earlier, the location and weather will help determine which materials you should use for altar construction.
Wood is a good and safe bet. It’s strong, tough, and can withstand just about any condition. Stones, rocks, and metals are great materials too. They are also tough and are nice natural materials to use. In general we want to use natural materials like wood, stone, glass, metal, hemp, etc. Avoid synthetic materials or plastics.
You can also use found objects in your chosen location to use in constructing the altar. This is a great way to incorporate the native environment in your altar. For example, a tree stump, a large rock, or a fallen trunk can all make great altar places.
Using found objects in the environment has the added benefit that you do not need to carry them in, which makes altar transport and cleanup is much easier. However, it does make your altar construction a bit more unpredictable, as you might not be able to find what you need.
The size should be big enough that you can get your work done, but small enough (in the case of a temporary altar) that you can easily pack it up and carry it.
Don’t worry about your outdoor altar being too small. The deities don’t worry about that, and neither should you. Your altar is just a tool– your intent is what really matters.
As long as you have a place to practice your rituals that suits your needs, it will definitely work for you.
What To Include On Your Altar
So many things! Colored fabrics and altar cloths are perfect for Wiccan outdoor altars, as they are lightweight and easily transportable. The color will light up our altar and create a magickal environment for worship and spellwork. Choose a color according to the correspondences you wish to work with.
Crystals are great too. They can be small and lightweight for travel as well. Please pay attention to the weather conditions for your crystals, as some cannot be exposed to water or direct sunlight.
Jewelry and personal talismans are also great for the same reasons. They are small, light, and can be easily worn to and from your altar.
Other items that you can easily include on an outdoor altar are:
- Statues of deities
- Chalice, bowl, or small cauldron (Hint: fill it with local sand, soil, or gravel!)
There are some items you may wish to think carefully about before including them on your Wiccan outdoor altar:
- Candles– Be careful of fire use outdoors and pay attention to local regulations. You might prefer to include them only for their color, and not for their flame.
- Broom– A broom may be too large and awkward for easy transport. It may also be damaged by rain and snow.
- Athame– Weapons may be prohibited in public spaces.
- Cauldron– Cauldrons should be avoided if fire use is prohibited. A cast iron cauldron may also be too heavy for transport and might rust if if gets wet.
- Heirlooms or items of personal significance– Your treasured items might get lost or exposed to the elements.
At the end of the day, the decor and items on your altar are up to you! Create according to your particular preference and lifestyle.
Check out our other article on how to create your first altar.
Types of Outdoor Wiccan Altars
Many Wiccans like to set up their altar according to the season, sabbat, or the purpose of a ritual.
Seasonal altars are natural way to honor the environment around you. They also work well with found items, since your altar will reflect the season: bits of ice in the winter, fresh flowers in the spring, and fallen leaves in the autumn.
Sabbat altars are another great way to reflect the season while also paying homage to the Wheel of the Year. Honor the mating of animals and the sowing and reaping of crops as the wheel turns.
Consider fallen leaves, pinecones, and other autumn items for Mabon and Samhain. Snow, ice, icicles, holly berries, and evergreen for Yule. Fresh flowers and green grass for Ostara. And so on.
Deity altars are another great type of Wiccan outdoor altar. Set up your altar and area as dedicated to worshipping of the God or Goddess or your patron deity.
You can find great inspiration for an elemental outdoor altar!
Keep It True To Yourself
Don’t stress about setting up your altar, especially for new or aspiring Wiccans.
Your outdoor altar doesn’t have to be a static thing– it can adapt and change. Experiment with new locations, setups, and altar items. As you discover what works for you, modify your altar over time.
Also, don’t fret that you’re creating your altar incorrectly! The deities do not have any concern about the size of your altar or amount of ritual tools you have placed upon it. All that matters is your intent, your dedication, and your purpose.
Keep your altar true to yourself and your purpose, and everything else will follow!
Well, we hope that this has been a useful guide for you on creating your own Wiccan outdoor altars. Continue below to read more about altars in general, or check out our article on Wiccan outdoor rituals.