Some of us are fortunate enough to live near special bodies of water that are used as sacred sites for water magick and ritual. Even if we do, we may still see the need to create our own water altars and shrines in our homes or outdoor spaces. This way we will always be able to access the sacred power of water wherever we are.
In my new book Water Magic I talk about some of the amazing sacred water sites throughout the globe. From Niagara Falls to Snoqualmie Falls, or Lake Manasarovar to Lake Ponchartrain, each have their own special unique power and sacred energy. Even if you are unable to travel to sites like these you don't need to worry. Hopefully the water altar or shrine you will create will be a place where your own magick will flow freely.
Even though you will be creating a Water Shrine, you will make sure to include items from each one of the elements—earth, air, fire, water, and spirit. This will help it be balanced and able to assist your workings in every possible way.
In the hopes of representing the element of earth you may wish to include a crystal that is ruled by the element of water. Some of these look watery, or are actually formed in water. Probably because of its color, Turquoise is one of the crystals associated with water. It is said to grant luck, healing, and protection from harm. If you would like to take a different tactic you may wish to include a small amount of actual dirt from a riverside, swamp, beach, or somewhere similar.
If you're like me, you will want to include some flowers and other botanicals. Some of these grow in water or swampy conditions. You might wish to include:
The most common way to represent the element of Air on an altar or shrine is to use incense. You can choose a blend crafted for one of the astrological water signs (Pisces, Scorpio, or Cancer). Or you might choose to use any of the botanicals mentioned above in your own combination, which will then be burned on charcoal.
The fire element can be welcomed onto your altar in the form of a candle. This could be a blue candle blessed with oils or incense dedicated to the water element. Alternatively, it could be a candle dedicated to one of the water Gods or Goddesses, such as Tiamat, The Morrigan, or Neptune. Each one of these has their own special likes and dislikes, so please do your research to ensure maximum effectiveness.
Water is the most essential component for your altar or shrine. Every different type of water carries its own special blessing. Depending on your intent you may choose to include:
You can choose to place the water in a bowl, glass, bottle, or even something more traditional like a chalice. You may even want to include a fountain, since moving water is seen to have special benefits across many different cultures.
To represent the element of spirit you could incorporate one of the Water Gods or Goddesses, or you can add a special item that represents your own connection to water. Shells, sand, or actual water you may have collected may also be used here. It can even be something as simple as tap water to represent the spirit of place that is your home. While it is often overlooked, tap water is the water that we drink most often, bathe in, and very often comes from a local body of water. It is powerful in its proximity, so try not to ignore it. You may even wish to add items from water animals that hold a powerful significance for you. This could be a statue or piece of artwork, or even a responsibly harvested bone or feather. The only limits are dictated by your own imagination.
When you have all your elemental items gathered together you can then begin to put together your altar or shrine. An altar is a space that will be set up temporarily and will be used to bring about a specific result. For example, you may wish to capitalize on water's ability to help with emotions, and setting up an altar like this during a difficult emotional time can be a glorious undertaking. Shrines, however, are set up as permanent spaces where one goes on a regular basis to leave offerings or perform rites and rituals. No matter which type of magickal space you are creating, you will need to put it in a space that is easily accessed but also away from pets, children, haters, or anything that might distract from your workings there. Many people like to prepare their water altar or shrine space by laying down a blue cloth. You can then place each of the elemental items on top. Traditionally Water goes in the West, Earth in the North, Air in the East, and Fire in the South. Spirit can be placed in the center.
This article is full of a lot of suggestions and instructions, but remember that making your own altar or shrine is a powerful experience that should be fun. It allows you to use your creativity to craft a space for magic.
Lilith Dorsey (New York, NY) comes from a Celtic, Afro-Caribbean, and Native American spirituality. She is the editor and publisher of Oshun-African Magickal Quarterly and filmmaker of the documentary Bodies of Water: Voodoo ...