An altar can be any flat surface upon which religious or spiritual offerings can be made. It is generally considered the point of focus for religious or spiritual ceremonies, and many religions in the world use altars as a basic cornerstone of belief. In Santa Muerte magick, altars can be public or private, large or small, permanent or temporary. Erecting a permanent altar to the Santa Muerte in your home or place of business is the most direct way to invite the Santa Muerte to take an active role in your life, to petition the Santa Muerte, and to thank the Santa Muerte for wishes or miracles granted.
The only element that's required for a successful Santa Muerte altar is an image of the Santa Muerte. This image can take the form of an elaborate statue of the Santa Muerte, or an image printed off from the internet. Feel free to decorate your altar with as many images of the Santa Muerte as you like. For example, many followers will place a primary image of the Santa Muerte atop their altar, and decorate the rest of the altar with smaller images they may pick up along the way, like prayer cards, medallions, or small figurines. While different devotees have different beliefs about various aspects of altar construction, many devotees of Holy Saint Death like to lay an altar cloth over the surface where their altar is placed, both as a sign of respect to symbolically lift the altar, and as a practical indication of where the altar begins and ends.
If your altar is permanent, you should try to make sure there is always some kind of offering on the altar. Saint Death is a woman of many vices, and popular offerings include cigarettes, cigars, booze, soda, money and candy. More traditional offerings include candles, incense, herbs, perfume, and flowers. Water is a common offering, as are apples and pieces of bread. If you place a perishable offering upon your altar, you should remove it as soon as it begins to show signs of going stale or bad. Remove flowers when they begin to wilt, candles when they've burned out, and incense when reduced to ashes. Your altar is a symbol of the relationship you have with Santa Muerte, so remember to keep it tidy and to remove offerings when they begin to go bad.
Approaching your altar for any reason - to pay respect, to make a request, or to make an offering - is as easy as approaching a good friend. Simply stand or sit at your altar and begin talking, make your respectful request, or make your offering. Special words and rituals may be utilized, but are not necessary. All that's necessary to communicate with the Santa Muerte are an open mind and an honest heart.