An altar is a table or surface used for spiritual ritual. It is sacred space meant to bring you into alignment with your higher power. An altar can be dedicated to a specific deity, saint, ascended master, loved one or angelic being. A personal altar is designed to meet your spiritual needs, to give you a place to practice connecting to the higher powers you wish to be aligned with.
My altar is a combination of symbols that helps me get into a state of openness, balance and wholeness. I sit here when I meditate. I practice Yoga in front of it. I light it when I feel I need some support or wish to uplift myself or others who are present in the room. It is where I make offerings to the helpful Spirits in my life and where I go when I feel I need guidance. I pray, affirm, chant and recharge myself in the presence of my altar. The sacred space I have created for myself has the ability to help me alter my life.
I do not believe in coincidence, therefore I must point out the significance of the homophones “alter” and “alter.” Let’s look the differences in the words first:
Alter, meaning to change or adjust, is always a verb (except in the phrase alter ego, meaning a second self). Altar, meaning an elevated place or structure before which religious ceremonies may be enacted or on which sacrifices may be offered, is always a noun. The words are homophones, but their origins are different; alter comes from a Latin word meaning other, and altar comes from the Latin altāria. – http://grammarist.com/spelling/altar-alter/
Now let us consider these two words in a [w]holistic way. Alter is a verb meaning to change. When I alter something I am modifying or adjusting it. When I create a personal altar or use an altar of any kind I am consciously altering the way in which I connect to the world around me. I am honoring and acknowledging the Spiritual realm. I am opening myself to the guidance and wisdom of beings beyond the physical dimension. The practice of creating and utilizing an altar is a way in which you can consciously alter your reality.
I have altered the energy of my home by creating more than one personal altar. The primary altar (pictured above) is found in our living room and my housemates and I use it to perform rituals such as meditation, Yoga and performing Tarot readings. On the altar are the things we will need to prepare and carry out our rituals. I have candles (and I keep a lighter handy), sage, figurines of deities I wish to call upon (right now I have Buddha, Pachamama and Quan Yin), wind chimes, quartz, amethyst and selenite (metaphysical crystals). The various objects all hold meaning or serve a purpose. The sage and wind chimes I use to clear the space. The candles represent the element of fire, which symbolizes creativity, the spark of life, Spirit. I also have a bowl in which to make offerings and a place to display a Tarot card. Each day we come together to draw a different card, which helps us focus our energy and our intentions in a meaningful way.
Creating an altar can have many positive effects:
- Bringing unity to your household
- Opening the door for better communication with family, friends, Self and Spirit
- Providing a place of peace and calm to escape to when feeling anxious or stressed
- Encouraging regular meditation, prayer, or other spiritual practices
- Setting clear intentions for your life and what you would like to manifest
- Deepening your relationship to your spirit guides, angels and higher self
Some Things to Remember when Creating Your Altar
Make it personal. Choose items that resonate with you in a deep way. Maybe a locket your grandmother gave you holds special emotional or spiritual significance to you. Maybe you like the color blue and find it very calming. Use these personal preferences as a guide for constructing your altar. The more it resonates with your Spirit, the more likely you are to use it often.
Use crystals. I cannot stress enough how awesome crystals are. They are powerful tools for shifting your energy, mood and thought patterns. They are readily available, affordable and easy to use. Plus, they add a lot of color and beauty to the spaces they occupy.
Plants are awesome. There are lots of benefits to using plants on an altar. For one, they remind you to take care of the space because plants need to be watered and cared for. They also provide additional oxygen to the room which is great during meditation or prayer. There are also many indoor plants that filter the air your breathe of potentially harmful toxins. Plants also have very positive effects on the heart chakra, an important energy center to work with during meditation.
Honor your guides. Use the altar to honor your spiritual guides and protectors. You can use pictures, paintings, poetry, songs, statues, or pretty much anything you want so long as you do it intentionally to connect with the Spiritual entity you wish to honor. For example, my grandmother became one of my Spirit Guides when she died. I now place the elephant figurine I took from her collection on one of my altars in order to honor and invoke her guidance.
Don’t be afraid to alter it. You are allowed to make changes to your sacred alter as often as you feel is needed. I don’t change the entire altar too frequently because I find it disrupts my practice to do so, but I do change the Tarot card and offering bowl regularly. I also check in every Full Moon and during seasonal shifts, sometimes I change the configuration, deities or stones in order to move more fluidly with the seasons and phases of the Moon. This is not necessary, but I find it helpful!
Share it. Invite friends and loved ones to sit at your altar with you. Once you have cultivated the energy of peace and calm you desire in that space you will be able to offer it to others who may be struggling. Be proud of your altar and don’t try to hide it. You are a spiritual being, living in a human body. We all are. When you take the time to create a physical representation of your Spiritual roots it is important not to hide this Truth, but to honor it openly and proudly.
Please feel free to comment or post photos of your own personal altar!
This post dedicated to my good friend Darren. I love you and believe in you. Keep your heart open and your eyes focused on the Light. Namaste.