On my post about decorating altars, a few readers commented that they’d love to set up an altar if they weren’t closeted. I remember feeling that way for the first seven years of my Craft. Growing up in a Catholic family, I never openly displayed my interest. Whenever I mentioned it (like when I discovered Hellenic Polytheism in middle school), I’d receive a lecture about Jesus and one God, which shut down the conversation.
So, yes, I understand the struggle. Even in college, I couldn’t set up altars in the dorm room. I had to hide all of my materials until my environment became safe, around age 20 or so.
If you’re “in the broom closet,” this post is for you. I’m going to discuss some methods I used to keep my Craft private. If you have any other ideas, please share. This is more of a brainstorming post than a “guide.” Your ideas will help people who are struggling with their environment.
Get “Non-Witchy” Containers
The easiest way to hide your supplies is to put everything in a box. It’s annoying, but effective. When it comes to deciding which box can hold your witchcraft/Pagan supplies, I recommend something that looks like another container.
In high school, my parents bought me some fancy “London” and “Paris” boxes as a set. Since they make pretty decorations, I put many of my art supplies in my Paris box. That means my London box held more painting tools, right? Nope. It disguised my witchcraft stuff.
For me, a really good way to hide supplies wasn’t just by using a random box. It was an intentionally disguised box. By stacking the Paris and London boxes, my parents assumed that both held art supplies for school. Whenever a Sabbat came around, I unloaded my London box and set up an altar on the floor. This box holds my extra witchcraft supplies to this day.
Or, Your Box Becomes Your Altar
When I practiced in secret, I shoved all of my supplies haphazardly into a box. While alone, I’d take it all out and set it up. If I were active in the witchcraft internet community at the time, I would have discovered a much more convenient solution: make an altar box.
Essentially, your altar is the tiny container. Your meditation crystals, prayer beads, and candles are already in there. Many bloggers pitch this idea for travel altars, but they can become at-home altars if you’re struggling for space or have to hide your Craft.
Those wooden boxes from Michael’s work well, and you can paint them. Otherwise, a shoe box or disguised box that I mentioned earlier would work. Hell, you can even use a desk drawer if you want.
Online Altars And Grimoires
This is another tip that I would have used if I had learned it earlier. Where I grew up, the magic community was secretive. You wouldn’t mention your Craft unless the person you were talking to also had a psychic ability. So I never thought to use the internet, or my computer, to my advantage.
Online altars are a thing. Many people use Tumblr accounts or Pinterest boards to save images, prayers, and facts that relate to their practice. Some save information they find in folders or on Google Docs.
These are great because (a) you can create an online alias so others don’t find you; (b) you can save information easily; and (c) you can engage with an online community. But if you’re reading this blog post, you probably know this already.
Take advantage of the resources you have. Can’t write down a grimoire? Copy and paste facts in your Notes app. Can’t build an altar? Make one on Animal Crossing. (I’m particularly proud of the Hades shrine on my island.) Remember that this is all temporary. Eventually, you’ll have your own place and can transition to a physical altar.
Can Your Supplies Disguise As Decor?
A lot of witchcraft supplies seem like everyday items to most people. Consider how many people place a Himalayan salt lamp on their bedside table or shelf. I know quite a few Christians who own those, and nobody thinks anything of it. But when you place a Himalayan salt lamp on an altar, with a pentagram and a jar of mugwort, then people will think it’s witchy.
If you have supplies that look like everyday items, display them. Why? Because when you’re practicing out of boxes, you’ll need as much storage space as you can get. As your collection grows, you may struggle to store EVERY witchcraft tool into one or two boxes.
Crystals make common decorative items and bookends. In my practice, family heirlooms contribute to ancestor work, so I display the teacups and incense burner that my grandmother gave me.
I’ll also set out some statues. Yes, even Pagan statues can seem discreet in some families. For years, my (Catholic) parents displayed a statue of Bast on their desk. We got it from a museum, and they loved the fact that Bast guarded the home in ancient Egypt. I had to bargain with them to get it back, and I eventually gave them a Bast statue of their own.
Another tip that I wish I knew: If you own witchcraft books, shelve them with their pages facing outwards. Believe it or not interior designers use this technique with some books. If the spine color doesn’t make the palette, they’ll flip it around so that you see the pages instead. I do this a lot with thin books, and nobody notices.
There are many convenient (and even fun) ways to hide your craft.
You know your living situation more than anyone. If any of these moves seem too risky, don’t do them. Stay safe. That is always your first priority.
Have you ever had to practice in secret? If you have, which tricks did you use? Comment below to help others who come across this post.