A Wiccan of 25 years, Sage likes to put her background as a writer and teacher to use by helping people learn about this NeoPagan path.
Creating a Wiccan shrine is a great way to connect with one's deities on a daily basis. Going to your shrine for small offerings, prayers, and meditations help you build your relationship with Gods and/or Goddesses. I find that utilizing a shrine daily not only satisfies me in knowing that I am giving them the honor they're due, but also helps me attune to them better so that I can be more open to their messages, guidance, and energy.
I recently decided to change my permanent, dresser-top shrine to a portable one. That way I can tote it with me on vacations, to the park, or to my mother’s when I go visit her for the weekends. I realized this would be a perfect option for someone who has very limited space, or who lives with people that would be less than respectful of their shrine.
So here is a guide for how I created my new portable shrine, but it's not a step-by-step tutorial because I only mean to inspire you with ideas. I encourage you to use my ideas as a springboard and get creative to make the project your own.
My Original Box
Materials and Supplies
A box (I prefer the unfinished wooden boxes)
Damp rag or tack cloth
A symbolic representation of your deity
Items or symbols sacred to your deity
Small stick or cone incense burner
Votive candles in holders
Small bowl or shell for offerings
Craft Supplies for your desired craft (see below)
Clear acrylic spray or polyurethane to protect it (optional, depending on your craft of choice)
The Preparation Stages
Start by preparing your box for your craft. This can make everything that follows much easier. Sand the box smooth, clean it well, and wipe it down. Make sure it's good and dry.
Now is a good time to decide two things: what you want your box to look like, and how you want to decorate it.
When considering the design of your box, consider what would appeal to you. Perhaps you might want to cover it in symbols or designs. Perhaps you want it to be fairly neutral and less conspicuous on the outside so others won't mess with it.
There are many ways to decorate your box. Here are a few:
- paint it
- stencil it
- apply stickers/decals to it
- cut and paste things to it (decoupage)
- cover it with paper, fabric, foil, ribbons, lace, etc.
- use a wood-burning tool to decorate it
- faux paint treatments (make it look like marble, leather, etc.)
- Gold or silver leave it
- Stain it
You can also do any combination of techniques you wish.
I've chosen to paint it on the inside, and give it an antique tin look on the outside with aluminum foil. I wanted to create a raised design, so I employed the use of 'puffy paint'.
The Process in Pictures
Like I said, how you decorate is up to you. But I'll share my process with you.
I started by painting the box with several coats of red paint on the insides. I wanted to give it a great, bold color. I then printed out images of serpents and cut the design out with a craft knife to create stencils. I taped them on the inside of the box to stencil in the serpent symbols because they are related to my Goddess.
I printed some Greek designs, Hecate's wheel symbol, etc. from the internet, and used carbon paper to transfer the design to the outside of the box. I then traced over these with 'puffy paint' to give it texture. I let it dry for a day.
I then brushed Elmer's glue all over the top. I took a long sheet of heavy-duty foil and covered the top (I crinkled it slightly to create some texture). I also covered the bottom with a sheet of foil. I used my trusty craft knife to cut around the latches.
I rubbed the foil well so the puffy paint would create impressions of my designs. To bring the designs out even more, I brushed black acrylic paint all over the foiled surface. After it dried, I wiped away most of the dry paint with a paper towel. This allowed all the raised areas to shine, while the creases and crevices stayed dark. This not only gives it a wonderful 'antique' look, but it creates contrast and really made the designs pop.
I added ribbon stoppers to the box to prevent the hinge from letting it swing all the way open. That way my box would retain a nice L-shape when open. I simply cut a red ribbon to the appropriate length while propping up the box, glued, and stapled it into place on each side.
I finished off the whole thing with a nice couple of coatings of clear, uv-protective acrylic sealer.
What to Put In It
Putting Your Shrine Together
Now that you've got the container all made, it's time to make it your shrine. If you like, you can perform a ritual to consecrate it, and consecrate all the items you put inside.
I like to put in an offering bowl, because I always make small offerings when I go to my shrine. Try a dollar store or second-hand shop to find something you like!
I also put some symbols of my Goddess: black ribbon, keys, and two gold votive 'torches'.
Stick an incense burner in there—I like to use cone or stick incense at the shrine for simplicity.
For me, I added a small statue of Hecate. If you don't have a statue of your deity, you can purchase a figure that represents them—an animal, perhaps (such as an owl for Athena, a stag for Herne, etc). Or you can just glue an image on the inside cover. Whatever you feel makes a good representation of your deity will suffice.
Or Make Simple Candles
Using the Shrine
Now, I can set up and break down my shrine within a minute. I just open it up and put the statue and two candles in place on the ledge created by the inside of the cover. I can light the candles, burn the incense, make the offering, and leave it open as long as I wish.
When I'm done, I can extinguish the candles, discard the incense ashes and return the offering to the Earth, then lay the statue and candles inside before closing it up. The height of practicality.
I can grab it and put it in a bag, then take it with me to anyplace I may go. I can do my daily devotionals in hotel rooms, the hospital, when I go camping or to Pagan festivals, in my garden or at the beach. If I don't want people to see what's in it when they visit my home, I only have to shut it and put it on a shelf, slip it under the bed, or stash it in a closet.
Like a miniature sacred temple, the inside is eternally consecrated to the Goddess and protected from the outside world.
Think about all the creative possibilities—your artistic talent level is irrelevant, as long as you decorate it in a way that is pleasing to you and honoring your deities.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Ch on January 23, 2020:
I've considered making a portable shrine for a couple saints, and since I don't want family to see my shrine for say, Santa Muerte, how will the offerings be made since I'd have to immediately close the box soon after my ritual?
Gio on February 27, 2019:
That's not including the possibilities of getting smitten. You should include the concerns of those who don't want to become smitten. Smiting is not a joke.
Rachell on September 11, 2018:
This is awesome and I'm putting this in my favorites! I'm in the closet with my family and until I move out I can't have an altar out in the open. Being able to close it and store it away out of sight when I'm not using it will help a lot. Thanks for the ideas, this weekend I'll be going into a craft store and see what ideas I come up with!
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on August 05, 2017:
Yes, absolutely. That is a personal choice, whatever you need. I have a portable, one in my bedroom, I used to have one in a yard (I don't have a yard now, lol, but I would if I did). And my family makes them for our ancestors at Samhain that is for all of our use (and our guests). There's no real limit.
Kaitlyn Chaney on August 04, 2017:
Can you have more than one shrine? Say you have a dresser top shrine, and then a portable one. Is that okay?
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on June 01, 2015:
Thank you! That is one of the reasons I love make my own tools as often as possible. It always adds that extra energy that really binds them to me. Thanks for commenting!
Sharon OBrien on June 01, 2015:
I love this. I have made tiny, portable altars using mint tins, but this is beautiful. Also, you are infusing your energy into the creation of the shrine - a definite plus. I especially love the idea of making candles for your specific deities and I am absolutely going to be doing that!
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on April 12, 2015:
Thanks Brandt, I appreciate your comments. Glad to hear it's something you can use, I'm finding it quite convenient myself.
Corey J Polesel from Delanson NY on April 12, 2015:
This is great! I'm always going somewhere and sometimes that would be just right for me.
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on April 07, 2015:
Thanks, sounds like it's just what you need!
SFIAOgirl021 on April 07, 2015:
that'll be so great for me right now I only have a shrine in my mind like an astral shrine because I have nowhere to set it up to where it'd be private because I live with lots of other people who wouldn't understand but in the future when I'm able to get my own place this will be absolutely perfect for me thanks for this it's a great hub.
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on April 07, 2015:
Thanks Catherine, sure-- decorative boxes always make a nice little storage and organization solution. Thanks for commenting!
Mackenzie Sage Wright (author) on April 07, 2015:
Thanks Silva, I like that about it too.
Catherine Giordano from Orlando Florida on April 07, 2015:
Fabulous. I don't need a portable shrine, but this could work to create a decorative box for any purpose. A souvenir box or a jewelry box or box for love letters. Voted up i, b, u.
Silva Hayes from Spicewood, Texas on April 07, 2015:
Love this idea! How creative and clever, plus I like the secretive, private nature of this personal shrine.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on April 07, 2015:
Very cool! Not for me but passing it on. Have a great Tuesday my talented friend.