The use of an Altar is a spiritual practice that has been used for centuries. You will find them in places of worship, ceremonial events, and private residences. They come in all different shapes, sizes, and purposes. They look as different from one another as the people who use them. This blog will discuss the reasoning behind having an altar, suggestions of what to place on it, and how to use it in your everyday spiritual practice. Yes, there are altars that are used in spiritual rituals for things other than meditation (bloody stuff) we are not talking about those types here.
What is an Altar?
An altar is a physical space that has a group/or set of objects that have spiritual significance to you. These objects can represent an element, archetype, or energy that influences your spiritual practice. Altars are often used to pay respect to ancestors, angels, and other features that allow for reflection and meditation. Altars can be as small as a side table or large as a megachurch. The purpose of the altar is the intention, and that will be unique to each altar created.
Why Is Having an Altar Important?
Does everyone "need" an altar? That answer is, no. This is a tool that assists in your spiritual practice. Many people may not choose to utilize the use of an altar for many reasons. Some reasons may be that there isn't enough room, not feeling led to creating one, or just not sure where to start. All of these are legitimate reasons. However, if your answer is unsure of how to start one, this blog will hopefully assist with that. The most important thing to understand is that there is no "right" way to create YOUR altar. This is an individualistic tool and resource for your spiritual practice.
Please note that the items on the altar are not meant to be worshipped in and of themselves. While they may represent spiritual entities that we have great respect for, or gods or goddesses that we commune with; the objects on the altar are not meant to be worshipped as idols. The importance is the energy frequency and the tool for a deeper connection with those energies of choice.
The feeling of connection and meditation in a sacred space allows for clarity and a deeper relationship with your Lightbody and knowledge to assist you on your journey. The items you place on your altar will have significance to you and your spiritual study. Some items may represent the elements, spirits, feelings, intentions, or even specific goddesses or gods that you would like to connect with. You may also have stones, crystals, a small crystal gazing ball, and other elements that represent you and your desired connection and gifts.
What are the Items on the Altar?
There are many things you can place on your altar. Remember, this is YOUR tool to connect for your spiritual advancement. Ask yourself the following questions to determine what and how you want these items displayed:
What energy are you currently connecting with that creates a sense of peace and understanding?
What/who are important people in your life who have transitioned back to Spirit that you receive guidance?
What crystals and colors do you resonate with? Do you know your aura color?
What elements do you have in your birth chart? (I suggest having an object from each element)
What Angel is assigned to you?
What God/Goddess works with you?
Poems or sayings that provide peace or strength?
Do you have a favorite flower or smell?
Those questions are starting points on what to include on your altar; however, whatever you choose and lead to use is right for you. Altars can be as simple or complex as you wish. The purpose is for you to have sacred time to connect and reflect and not to make it a showpiece for onlookers.
Where Does the Altar Go?
The placement of your altar is entirely dependent on you. Feng Shui (an ancient Chinese traditional practice that uses energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment) principles suggest the following locations in your home for your altar.
A quiet space is best; anything that is out from common areas and away from any commotion is ideal.
If possible, have your altar facing or near a door or a window. This will increase the amount of energy flowing towards your altar. Try not to have the altar facing a kitchen or bathroom door.
An altar should always be placed against a solid wall. Your altar needs all the strength it can get and if it's against a window it won't be able to do so.
Don't place it under a beam or a staircase. Beams create an oppressive and heavy sort of energy, which you definitely don't want hanging over your altar. You also don't want to be walking all over it if it's under the staircase. (source: The Qi)
Ideally, you want the alter to be in a place with little to no distractions where meditation and prayer can be conducted and it is not subjected to people tampering, moving, and/or breaking things.
So we discussed what the purpose of an altar is, what to place on the altar, and where to place it in your home. Now let's focus on how to incorporate certain elements of influence using altar items and end with a handy checklist to get you started.
Your alter can have a single stone or a lit candle. These can be focus items that allow you to have a focal point for meditation practice. I have a water fountain and candles. I call altars with these elements "living altars" because of the ongoing movement or active energy. However, this is not necessary and always remember to never leave a candle unattended or not in a structure that will prevent them from falling.
Group altars may include elements important to each person in the group. You can use paintings, artwork, and/or switching items with the seasons or the accession process in your journey. At least one item to ignite each sense (sight, hearing, smell, sight, and touch) is also recommended.
You will want to keep your altar clean. Make sure your space is free from dust, dirt, or other concerns that may impact the intention of your altar or make it less enjoyable to use.
I recommend it being updated or making sure it is clean; energetically speaking, any time you go through a dark experience in life, fights occur in the area of the altar or when you are led to do so. Using sage on the altar often can also keep it clear of lower energy that can impact its use and effectiveness. Create a space that is not just energetically peaceful but aesthetically sound to ensure continued and ongoing usage.
Time to Get Started Creating
Below is a quick step-by-step guide to get you started or enhance what you already have.
Gather supplies: What is important to you and your spiritual journey, who you pray to, and who you pray for? What elements do you find peace and protection? What items represent these things? Get these things together.
Choose a location: We talked about this above. Find what works for you and will allow you privacy and peace. Consider directions of the sun, windows, air gusts, doors, etc.
Placement of Items: Place the items on your altar in a sacred way: Take a deep breath and focus on your intention for creating this sacred space. Use your intention to place items where you feel they need to be. You can use a cup of water for emotion, crystals or stones for grounding, candles for fire, and incense for air. Placing them in places that allow focus and reception of energy. All these items also interact with the senses.
Give thanks: At the beginning and end of each session with your altar or when you are just gazing at its beauty from across the room, give thanks and send love to the energies you connect with as you use the tool to enhance your spiritual practice.
This is a quick and easy way to create your own sacred space. If you have any questions or want to share an image of your space, we would love to see it. Much love!
- M. Asha