Updated: Jun 29, 2022
We are constantly giving birth to the future through our actions. Decisions we make, steps we decide to take or delay, quiet conversations with friends and loved ones all influence what will eventually appear on the horizon. The creation of an Altar Bowl allows us to magically influence these results to bring us the abundance, security, and peace that we desire.
An Altar Bowl is a spiritual and magical work of art that is also a tool. It is constructed out of many different components that are all associated with a desired outcome. Altar Bowls are magical tools that are worked over time – you return to the bowl repeatedly to contribute energy and intention to the work. They are constructed in many different ways. They don’t even need to incorporate a bowl and they don’t need to reside upon an altar! No matter their shape or construction, all Altar Bowls share a few attributes.
Altar Bowls are intentional. To create one, a goal or purpose is selected. This goal or theme will influence the decisions that are made when constructing the bowl.
Altar Bowls are assembled in either a container or demarcated space where selected items with magical significance are arranged in such a way as to both symbolize the intent of the bowl and magically enhance the influences of the components used to make the bowl.
Altar Bowls are tended to and worked with over time. After initial construction of the bowl, the magician regularly returns to the bowl to contribute more magical imagery and intent.
Altar Bowls can be created for any purpose: prosperity, abundance, attraction, protection – any purpose you can imagine!
Let’s talk through the process of making an Altar Bowl. Like all home made magic, making an Altar Bowl requires a lot of decisions up front.
The first step to creating an Altar Bowl is to choose your magical intent. Think about your current situation and what you would like to change. As mentioned above, you can create an Altar Bowl for any purpose. The more specific and clear you can make your purpose, the more powerful the magic will be. So, choose your goal or magical intent well. Journaling or brainstorming can help you refine your initial ideas. For example, do you want Abundance in your life? If so, what kind? Do you want an abundance of opportunities or an abundance of friends or work or attention? Do you want abundance in all areas of your life? Think about it before you start gathering supplies.
When it comes to supplies, the first one to pick out is the bowl or container to use. A shallow bowl or a deep plate or platter works well. For constructing bowls outside, a shallow dip in the ground or an area ringed by rocks will work wonderfully. Try to locate outside bowls in places that will be sheltered from the wind.
I always use a shallow, sliver-plated tazza or pedestal bowl because I find it aesthetically pleasing. Choose a bowl that you find visually pleasing and that corresponds with your purposes. For example, if you are doing prosperity work, a gold or yellow bowl would be appropriate since it would correspond to the sun, money, and growth. If you don’t have a bowl that you feel excited about using, you can use a plain white bowl from your kitchen or you can go shopping to find the perfect bowl. Dollar shops, yard sales, and thrift shops are all excellent places to look.
Once you have selected the bowl, it is time to consider the base to use in your bowl. The base will line the bottom of the bowl and provide a foundation on which to arrange the other items you will include. The base should be something like sand, rice, pebbles, gemstone chips, or ground herbs. Try to choose a base material that corresponds to your magical intent. If you can’t find something that corresponds to your purpose, uncolored sand or white rice will work. The most important part is to make sure that there is enough base material to cover the bottom of the bowl and make a flat, even surface (you don’t need to fill the entire bowl – in fact, it helps to have the edges of the bowl rise above your base material to help with the arrangement of magical items). Of course, if you are going to create the bowl outside, the good earth itself or a scattering of leaves or natural growing grass works just fine.
Next, here comes (one of) the fun parts. Choose what items you want to include in the bowl. Again, the items should correspond to your intent. Go exploring through your belongings to find corresponding:
Stones and crystals
Colored cloth (small pieces)
Colored sand or powders
You may be wondering how to make sure that the items you wish to include correspond with your magical intent. There are a couple of ways to do this. The first way is to look up the correspondences for each item and see if they match your intent. (For example, if I want to create a bowl for prosperity and I have an amazonite stone, I can look up amazonite here or in Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem and Metal Magic to see that one of its correspondences is prosperity.) The second way is to select the components for your bowl intuitively. You can look for items in nature or around your house that resonate with your magical goal and personal symbolism. When you use an intuitive selection method, the magical associations to the items will be strengthened if you can find a rationale for including the item in your work. You don’t need to sort through and know these personal symbolic links but doing so will result in more powerful magic. As you are selecting the items to include in your Altar Bowl, think about including a component that will allow you to interact with the bowl on a regular basis. For example, you might choose a powdered herb that you will sprinkle into the bowl once a day. Or you may want to add a small crystal chip to the bowl each day. You can also consider using a candle in combination with the bowl and use lighting the candle as your daily magical work.
The next portion of your preparations includes experimenting with the various components you have selected. Experiment with arranging them in various configurations. This is a deeply intuitive process, but again, it is even more powerful if you take the time to think through the symbolic configuration so that you fully understand it. After you have come to a decision about a general design or layout for the components you have chosen, there is one last decision to make.
Pick an auspicious date and time for the creation of your Altar Bowl. Select one of the following timing methods or use one of your own. (Or in a pinch, don’t use a timing method and make the Altar Bowl when it suits you!)
Pick a personally significant day that corresponds to your purpose (your birthday, some other special occasion)
Pick a lunar phase that corresponds to your purpose (Waxing and Full phases for growth and attraction, Waning for banishing or diminishing something, and New for planting seeds for the future.)
Pick a day of the week that corresponds to your purpose
Sunday growth, blessings, abundance Monday psychism, emotions, relationships, healing, friendshipo Tuesday court case, protection, power, confidence Wednesday communication, education, journies Thursday abundance, wealth, luck, careers Friday love, romance Saturday restriction, limitation
The basic method:
A base substance for the bowl - Rice, beans, pebbles, or dirt
Crystals or stones
Herbs – ground and whole
Spiritual cleansing method (blessed water, sun, or moonlight, cleansing herbal infusion)
At the day and time of your choosing, assemble the items to make your altar bowl. Don’t forget to include something to spiritually cleanse your items.
Cleanse the bowl, stones, sand, and other physical items by passing them through your cleansing method and stating, “Clear and cleanse any disruptive influences from these items to perfect them for my magical work.” While you do so, visualize some of your energy infusing the items and returning them to a neutral state.
Take a few moments to compose yourself, clear your head and prepare for your work. You can ground and center, say a prayer, or meditate in silence.
When you feel ready, place the bowl on your work surface and say “This bowl will build my future and [insert your magical goal here].” For example, you might say something like “This bowl will build my future and draw new opportunities for me to meet the right people to further my career.”
Pick up the base substance you are going to use for the bowl and say, “This is the fertile ground in which I plant my seeds. This is the foundation for my dreams, let my structure be sound.” Then pour the base substance into the bowl. Depending on the type of substance you use, you may wish to work with it before moving the next step. For example, you could spread it out, create small mounds with it if you don’t want to work with a flat surface, or draw patterns in it.
After the base substance is arranged to your liking, begin to arrange the magical components in the bowl. For each item, hold it, state why you are including it and what your intent is. For example, if I am taking classes and want to attract good grades, and I decide to put a piece of amethyst in my bowl I would say, “This amethyst will keep my mind calm and receptive so that I absorb all the information I need to get good grades.” Arranging these items may take some time, even if you previously experimented with how to arrange them. Take your time and enjoy the creative process. Feel the energy in each item and the collective energy of the bowl and make your decisions based on what you are building.
If you wish to include any powdered herbs, sprinkling powders or perfumes, add them at the end. Use the same procedure as you have for all the other items. Hold the item, name it, and describe why you are using it and what your intent is.
After you have finished constructing the bowl, take a few moments to admire it and to sense its energy. If you want to make any adjustments, make them before the next step. (You can make adjustments throughout the life of your bowl, but it’s good to start out being as satisfied as possible with the arrangement.)
When you are ready, center yourself and prepare to activate your bowl and put it to work. You can do this in many different ways. If you want to petition a Goddess or God or other entity to assist you, you can use prayer. You can also use song, chanting, or any other form of energy raising. Whatever method you choose, spend some time gathering or asking for the power to put all the wonderful intentions that you put into the bowl into action.
Tend your bowl daily. This may include spending some time with it and praying or otherwise contributing energy to it. Or you could speak your intention aloud while you add a powdered herb or other item to the bowl. Or you could light a candle you have chosen for the purpose and let it burn for an hour. But daily interaction with the bowl keeps it working strong and reinforces your goals.
You can keep your altar bowl for as long as you choose. I usually keep mine going until I reach my magical goal. Then I deconstruct the bowl by taking it apart, cleaning the items that I want to keep, and disposing of the remaining items. Once I clean the bowl, I am ready to pick a new intention and get started creating the next one!
Here are some suggestions for items you might want to include in your altar bowls:
Rice or beans
Shredded money (you can buy it online)
A whole nutmeg
For love drawing (to draw the perfect love, not an individual):
Heart shaped stones
Protective symbols (Crosses, pentagrams, whatever symbol is meaningful to you)