Create a Portable Altar Kit

Why create a portable altar kit? Well, the obvious reason is that a portable altar is... well, portable. For some people, that's a desirable thing. You may wish to have a portable altar for any number of reasons. Perhaps your job requires you to travel a lot. Maybe you're a college student in a cramped dorm, and space is at a premium. Do you belong to a group that holds rituals in a different place each time? Got small children who will knock over anything and everything that you set out on a table top? Any of these–and more–are good reasons to create a portable altar kit. It's easy to do, and it makes it a snap to just grab-and-go on your way out the door.

What To Include

Portable Altar
This simple box holds a stone to represent Earth, a broom for Air, a tealight candle symbolizing Fire, and a seashell for Water. Patti Wigington

The first thing you'll need to do is decide what items you want to include in your portable altar. Some people like to put in every single magical tool they own, five different decks of Tarot cards, and their entire gemstone collection, but that gets clunky; simple is usually better. In fact, if you keep just four items in there, you've probably got it made–and those are the ones associated with the four classical elements.

Earth is symbolized by a pentacle, so if you can find a small one for your altar kit, add it. If you can't find one small enough to be portable, improvise. Use a small decorative dish, a small flat stone, or even a small vial of salt to represent earth.

Air can be represented in a number of ways, the traditional tool being the wand. If you don't have room for a wand, consider a feather, or even incense–the smoke is associated with both air and fire.

Fire is often connected to the athame, but if you're traveling around you may not be able to put anything with a blade in your bags. If that's the case, never fear–use a candle (and bring matches or a lighter), or some other fire symbol. Deer antlers are also good substitutes for an athame.

The cup or chalice represents water. You can carry actual water with you in a small vial, or use the cup as symbolic of water. If you don't have access to water, try carrying a seashell or some other symbol of the feminine.

If your tradition requires you to use other items, you can add those as well. Some things you might want to include in your altar kit are:

  • A crystal
  • Tarot cards
  • A small statue representing deity
  • A bell

Finally, add a piece of fabric to use as an altar cloth. It doesn't have to be big, just large enough to spread all of your tools on, so you can perform a working anywhere you may be.

Box or Bag?

Esoteric objects, used for healing and fortune-telling
What kind of stuff do you want to put in your altar kit?. nambitomo / Getty Images

You'll need to decide whether you want to use a box or a bag. If you plan to carry your altar kit on a plane, backpack, purse or other place where space is at a premium, go with a bag. If it's something you're going to keep in your home, or maybe take over to a friend's, you can probably use a box.

The great thing about a bag that enhances portability is that your bag can double as an altar cloth. To make a circular piece of material into a carrying bag, simply stitch a 1/2 hem around the edge of the circle, and run a cord through it. Knot the cord at the ends, and then when you pull it tight you'll have a drawstring bag that unfolds into a round altar cloth.

If you want to use a box, great–there are tons to choose from. You can get a plain wooden one from a craft store and paint it or decorate it. You could use an old cigar box and cover it with fabric and embellishments, or you can buy a pre-made carved or decorated box from one of the thousands of retailers who specialize in metaphysical gifts.

The key here is to pick a container that will hold the tools you need.


The Super Mini-Portable Altar Kit

Isolated film canister on white marble
Film canisters are hard to find these days, but they make great altar containers. DydoDellaMura / Getty Images

What if space is really at a premium for you? Maybe you fly a lot due to your job, or you're going someplace where you can't carry a lot of bulky stuff. You might find yourself with no room at all to pack a fully portable altar kit. Here's a great idea for an altar you can literally put in your pocket. Here's what you'll need:

  • A canister from a 35mm roll of film
  • A penny
  • A small twig
  • A match
  • A small thimble
  • A 4" square of fabric
  • A ribbon or string

Use the penny to represent earth–draw a pentacle on it with a Sharpie if you like. The twig is your wand, symbolizing air. The match (which you don't have to light) is associated with fire, and the thimble is a cup, for the element of water. Pack these four items in the film canister, and there's your Super Mini-Portable Altar Kit. Put the canister in the center of your fabric square, pull the sides up, and tie it with the string/ribbon. You can carry this in your pocket or wear around your neck.

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Your Citation
Wigington, Patti. "Create a Portable Altar Kit." Learn Religions, Apr. 5, 2023, Wigington, Patti. (2023, April 5). Create a Portable Altar Kit. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "Create a Portable Altar Kit." Learn Religions. (accessed June 5, 2023).