How to Cleanse and Charge Your Altar: A Beginner’s Guide
An altar is a place where we can ground and center. It’s also a place where we perform ritual, cast spells, and meet with our gods, ancestors and guides. But we can’t just set up an altar and leave it there. It takes maintenance – regular cleansing and charging. Then learn how to cleanse and charge your altar and tools below.
First, What is an Altar?
Just as there’s an altar in church, pagans and witches also often choose to have their own altars at home or in gathering places. The altar serves as a meeting place between spirits and practitioners, namely gods, ancestors, and nature spirits. But an altar doesn’t have to be dedicated to spirits if the practitioner doesn’t want it to be. It might be a place where the practitioner simply sits and reconnects with themselves and with the earth. Or a place of meditation and mindfulness. An altar is simply a spiritual space where the individual goes to feel grounded and centered. If you don’t know how to set up an altar, click here.
Next, Why Cleanse and Charge Your Altar and Tools?
First, let’s talk about the importance of regular cleansing of your altar. Cleansing is a crucial aspect of the craft and of spiritual practices of all kinds. Why? It removes negative or unwanted energies and makes room for beneficial energies. Just as we cleanse our auras and our homes, we should cleanse our altars too. Negative energies can attach or be drawn to our altars because of new items added to the altar OR energies around the altar itself. Cleansing an altar can be done in a few different ways, which we will detail later in the article.
Charging an altar is important because it imbues our intentions (either magical or spiritual) into our altar and tools. Charging means to fill an object or space with our intentions and energy OR with a god or ancestor’s energies. People also call this process blessing and sometimes consecrating. If you don’t charge or bless your altar, you’re skipping an important step in the magical process and leaving your altar and items open for other energies to take up space. Learn how to cleanse and charge your altar below.
How to Cleanse Your Altar
This is my way of cleansing and charging my altar, so feel free to change it and tailor it to your needs and preferences. I use a combination of smoke and water.
What You’ll Need:
- Herb bundle or incense (plus lighter to light the bundle)
- Fireproof container (to catch ashes of smudge bundle) OR incense holder
- Clean rag
- Lemon juice OR holy water (pledge works if you don’t have anything else)
What To Do:
- First, take everything off of your altar and set it to the side.
- Next, take your rag and lemon juice/holy water/pledge (cleaning agent) and wipe down your altar in a counter-clockwise fashion. The entire time you’re visualizing and/or saying out loud that you’re cleansing negative energies from your altar and making it as a clean slate for divine energy.
- Take your rag and clean all of your tools/supplies that will be going back onto your altar. Continually visualizing and stating your intentions.
- Next, light your incense or smudge bundle and gently blow smoke onto the top of your altar and all around it. The smoke serves to further cleanse your altar of unwanted energies. Visualize the smoke blowing away all negativity.
- Do the same to your tools and altar supplies (smudge or blow incense smoke to cleanse).
Next, you’re going to charge your altar and tools.
How to Charge Your Altar
Again, charging your altar will depend on your preferences and needs, but here’s one way I charge mine.
What You’ll Need:
- A clean rag
- Essential oil OR herb infused oil OR olive oil
What to Do:
- Directly following the cleansing ritual, get a clean rag and your oil.
- Drop or dip your rag into the oil of your choice.
- Wipe your altar down in a clockwise fashion with the oil. The oil is used as a blessing substance. State your intentions out loud. For example, “bless this altar in the name of the Goddess. May it be a space for magic, healing and divine connection.” (change this to meet your needs and preferences)
- Now do the same with each tool or supply you’re adding back to your altar. Bless each one with the oil and state your intentions for each object out loud. Your words are charging the altar and tools with your intentions.
Other Methods of Cleansing Your Altar
I always use smoke and water to cleanse my altar, but you can use a combination of any of the elements or just one. It’s up to you! Try these cleansing methods:
- For a quickie cleanser: spray a cleansing spray or floral water over your altar and tools
- Asperging is an easy way to cleanse and bless using a sprig of herb (rosemary or rue) and dipping in holy or moon water then sprinkling your altar and tools
- Different waters can be used for cleansing: holy water, moon water, sun water, lavender water, rose water, etc.
- Herbal infusions can be used as cleansers: rosemary and rue, basil and thyme, lemon peel
- Fanning with a sacred fan or feather wand will blow away negative energies (also a quickie cleanser)
- Brushing negative energy away using a small sacred besom
- Placing a bowl of salt to absorb negative energy
- Place stones on the altar that absorb negative energy like black tourmaline
- If you’re a Reiki practitioner, Reiki energy can be projected at your altar to cleanse and charge at the same time
Other Methods of Charging Your Altar
- Instead of charging each tool and your altar with YOUR intentions, invoke your gods/goddesses/ancestors, etc. and ask them to fill your altar and tools with their divine energy (this should be done anyway if your altar is more of a shrine dedicated to a particular deity or spirit)
- Reiki attuned people can imbue altars and tools with Reiki
- High vibration crystals like lapis lazuli and selenite placed on the altar in a specific place can charge the objects near it (or set up a crystal grid for superior high vibrations!)
- Spray or diffuse essential oils or perfumes over your altar and tools for a specific intention
- Charge your altar and tools by placing your hands over each item and visualizing white light divine energy flowing into the crown of your head, through your heart, down your arms and into your altar and tools
- Charge your tools by moonlight or sunlight
How Often Should You Cleanse & Charge?
I’d love to tell you that I cleanse and charge my altar and tools frequently, but that would be a lie. So how often should you cleanse and charge? It depends on what you feel is right. I typically try to cleanse and re-charge my altar once every three months. But it depends. If I have a visitor that surreptitiously sets their purse, phone, etc. on top of my altar without regard, then I typically will cleanse and charge it after they leave. In addition, I choose a New or Full Moon to cleanse and charge my altar. But, as I said before, it’s totally up to you!