A wiccan altar is a place for worship – it can be a raised table or just a small collection of items. These may be practical or symbolic items for worship, chant, prayer, or spells. I advise, when beginning to put an altar together, to start with 1-2 candles to provide light and warmth, a ceremonial blade in case your worship or spell requires blood, a small bowl or cauldron for mixing ingredients, a chalice from which to drink, whichever talisman you use for conjuring, and some salt to represent earth and ground your work.
I have a standard altar set that I keep set up on top of a vintage suitcase in the Northwest most point In my dwelling. I prefer to do my worship and spells outdoors so I can quickly move everything into the suitcase, gather what I need specifically, and head out to the forest. An altar-to-go, if you will!
Each item in my altar represents the four elements – in the North spot is the earth element, either a gem, stone, or salt; in the east is air where I burn incense; in the south I burn a candle for fire, and in the west is water where I keep my chalice. This is called calling on the elements and helps to harness the elements needed for a manipulation.
It’s also just very pretty and a very good reminder to stay grounded elementally and directionally on earth.