Have you ever wanted to make an altar but didn’t know where to start? Maybe you’ve been interested but didn’t really know what the purpose was of having one. I’m super excited to share my own personal practice and guide to altars with you, in hopes that I will inspire you to make your own altar as well!
An altar is a sacred space in your home that acts as a portal to deeper dimensions within your own consciousness. An altar is different from a shrine or a temple but is usually connected to them in some way. A shrine can be on your altar or not and is where you honor or connect with ancestors, spirits, or Goddesses. Your altar would be inside of a temple, which is a sacred dwelling space for ritual, prayer, or offerings to the divine. Your altar is a space to work with physical manifestations and sacred tools representing your own innate divinity. The purpose of having an altar is to carve out a space in your home that continues to hold a high vibrational resonance so that you can drop into this divinity easier each time you connect with it. You can pray, meditate, manifest, work with magic, and align with your highest divinity in this sacred space. You can also have an altar to honor your ancestors or just to remind you of the beauty of life.
Making an altar is only tricky if you make it that way. An altar is something deeply personal to you and can change as often as the seasons. When making your altar I recommend meditating before and then clearing the space with the burning of sage or palo santo. You want to be in a sacred state of mind and tuned into higher wisdom that will guide you as you create. I also recommend having everything you want to place on your altar ready, so you are not searching around your home. Don’t worry, you can always add to your altar later or take items off. There is no right or wrong way to do it, despite what some people may say on the internet. Creating your altar should be a meditative activity, invoking joy and creativity so that you are starting off with infusing it with the highest vibration of love. You know your altar is done when you look at it and feel joy and love. Altars play with the senses, so adding lots of color, scents, fun textures, and even sacred items that make sound are all encouraged. You’re putting items that hold a sacred resonance with you; gifts, sacred tools, images, meaningful items, etc.
What you put on your altar is up to you, your purpose behind it, and what you’re desiring to invoke within your heart. Personally I include the five elements; earth, water, fire, wind, and ether. I also include a bell, my mala beads, crystals, candles, sculptures of deities, an oracle deck I am working with, essential oils that hold medicine for the collective, shells, and a sacred text dedicated to Lalita Tripura Sundari. Most people keep a cloth under their altar or a beautiful all-natural tapestry, I personally have a really nice wooden platform so I prefer to see the dark natural wood. Your altar should make you happy to look at, I cannot mention this enough. If you are wishing to start with the five elements here are some examples of what you can use. For earth, you can add plants, flower offerings, incense, herbs, crystals or stones. For water, you can keep a bowl or bottle of water (I love to charge mine in the full moon!), shells, or sand. For fire having candles, matches, or an arti lamp for Hindu ceremony will all represent this transformative element. For wind, you can keep feathers, incense, a bell, and essential oils. Finally, ether, representing space and the spirits, can be in the form of images of your ancestors or deities, food offerings, drink offerings, or sacred texts. You can also keep your journal and coffee mug if you want to make spending time by your altar a part of your morning ritual, you can keep sacred jewelry or personal ornaments on your altar to be charged by your spiritual work. You can keep written affirmations or manifestations, a money bowl, or any item that brings you joy and that you want to charge with your spiritual energy.
When it comes to taking care of your altar, it’s up to you. One year I remade my altar every full moon, another year I remade my altar every new moon. You can redo it with the change of the seasons, holidays, birthdays, or whenever you feel the energy might be getting stagnant. Your altar becomes a living entity, in that it's constantly changing and growing with you. You can communicate with it and witness the unique expression of your own soul mirrored back to you. You can keep adding to your altar without needing to redo the whole thing, and you can also remove items whenever you feel they may have served their purpose or if you want to keep a little extra energy with you that day. If you spill something, clean it up, keep it dust-free, and as organized as you like. You can also have many altars in your home! I have five that naturally sprung up. One is my “main altar” this is the one I do my morning and nighttime rituals, turn to for prayer, and is the largest one I have. In addition, I have a tiny medicine altar in the herb and supplement area in my kitchen, I have a mini altar next to my bed, a mini altar on my bookshelf by the front door, and a beauty altar in my bathroom. To me, these sporadic altars remind me to live life like a moving prayer, to hold the sacred in all moments in life, and to take care of the temple that is my body. What you do with your altar is up to you and your needs, and will change and evolve over time. I have a morning and night routine where I awaken the energy with the rising sun and then return after sunset with gratitude in my heart for the day and her lessons. I also offer a small bowl of food to the spirits and my ancestors, something that was taught to me by my Italian nonna, and I also offer my cacao when I perform my Sunday ceremony. You can practice spells and magic at your altar if that is something you enjoy exploring, you can meditate at your altar, you can communicate with ancestors for guidance. Your altar is meant to bring you peace, joy, and to represent the essence of beauty that is innate to life.
I hope you enjoyed learning about the art of altars and that you now feel empowered with the knowledge to create your own. Remember, your altar is unique to you, you can look up more information about feng shui, the four directions, and so much more, but I recommend starting here and making something simple and unique to you. Your pure heart will love the journey of creating this living space in your home. Thank you for your presence.
All my love,