What is an altar?
An altar is more than just a place to store your magical tools — it’s a sacred space for meditation, ritual, and connecting with Source. Think of it as an arena where your intentional work can play out, expand, and become. A place where your sacred tools can live. A place for devotion, ritual, or practice, where you can set your intentions, leaving them undisturbed so that they may manifest in the physical form. There is so much potential for altars — they can be big, small, minimalist, or grand. They can be in a backpack, on a tabletop, or in a window sill. The most beautiful thing about creating your sacred altar is that YOU choose what goes on it! It’s a personal space where you decide what gets honored, just like your practice. You’re only limited by your imagination!
What should you place on your altar?
As with any ritual work, the first order of business should be clearing and raising appropriate energy for sacred work. Set an intention: “This space is consecrated, amplified, and clear. And so it is.” Prepare your space for the best outcome by incorporating these essential elements:
*Keep in mind that your stones represent earth, your perfume or oils represent water, your feathers and smudge represent air, and your candle symbolizes fire, so additional elemental representations are optional.
If you have all your metaphysical tools around you and no designated space for them, honor them with an altar. You can create this space as a display for your tools, or it can be much more. Your altar can be intention-based, seasonal, or dedicated to your specific work. Refreshing your altar each season honors the directions and elements and helps you embrace new energy and change.
Where should you create your altar?
Your altar could be a simple shelf, table, trunk, cabinet, or something more elegant and elaborate. It can be a permanent fixture or a portable one you can move when necessary. You can place your altar inside your home or outdoors. Choose a spot that feels right for you, where you’ll enjoy peace and privacy. While I have some suggestions, many other places might feel right.
- Bathroom Altar: Do you love bath magic as much as I do? Create a bathroom altar on your vanity or a wooden tray with eucalyptus, candles, water-safe crystals, shells, and bath salts for self-care and beauty rituals.
- Bedroom Altar: The bedroom is perfect for love, sex, and fertility altars. It’s also an ideal space for altars dedicated to increasing your intuition, receiving messages from your guides, or enhancing your dreams. If you incorporate candles, be sure to extinguish them before you go to sleep! Sodalite, amethyst, lepidolite, and stilbite are wonderful additions to a bedroom altar.
- Desktop Altar: Keep a small altar on your desk at work without drawing attention by getting a small decorative plate or tray and placing a decorative candle for fire (even if you don’t use it, you’ll know why it’s there), a stone for earth, a feather for air, and a sea shell for water.
- Kitchen Altar: If you love to cook, set up an altar in your kitchen incorporating ingredients in the cupboards and even kitchen utensils — use your wooden spoon as a wand! This would be a good room for abundance, prosperity, healing, and gratitude altars. Decorate with seasonal fruits and vegetables that don’t need to be refrigerated. Incorporate grains for plenty, rice for fertility, spices for warmth, chocolate for comfort, and wine for joy and celebration.
- Outdoor Altar: There’s something special about an outdoor altar and how it incorporates the ground, the plants, and the sky — all the elements combined to enhance the altar’s power. You might build it with carefully balanced stones or find a hollowed-out tree stump to nestle your tools. Remember the weather when constructing an outdoor altar — it may become wet, flood, or contend with strong crosswinds. Ensure that any materials you work with won’t harm the animal and plant life.
- Portable Altar: Get a medium-sized wooden box or large cigar box. You can set up your tools for prayer and ritual on top of it. Best of all, the tools can be stored inside the box when not in use!
- Virtual Altar: Tech magicians, I haven’t forgotten you! Consider creating an altar lock screen or wallpaper for your phone, tablet, or laptop. Create a collage using sacred images that speak to you so you can pull it up on your device anywhere you go for a moment of meditation, focusing on your intentions or connecting with Source.
You can create several altars in your home — you don’t have to stop at just one! Here are some of my favorite altar themes:
- Clearing altar: At your front door. Check the baggage at the door! This is for keeping your home clear and uplifted, creating protection, and transmuting negative energies.
- Love altar: In your bedroom/personal space. What do you seek? This could be an attraction altar to bring love, or a love and intimacy altar to enhance your current relationship.
- Creativity/abundance/manifestation altar: At your desk or workspace. What do you need more of at work? Inspiration, creativity, focus, drive? What are you working to manifest? Build your altar to invite and receive it.
- Safety/protection altar: In your car. We all need protection when on the road. And sometimes during the day, our cars are the only place we get a moment to ourselves!
- Ancestral altar: In your home/yard/kitchen. Light a candle and give thanks to the people who have gone before. Leave an offering of chocolate or their favorite beverage. This space can be as simple as a photograph with a candle to honor the memory of a loved one.
- Sleep/relaxation altar: At your bedside, or somewhere you relax. If you have trouble winding down or sleeping, a sleep altar can do wonders for you. Without rejuvenation, we cannot sustain ourselves or give to others.
There are as many choices for altar tools, spaces, and intentions as there are beings in the world. Do your research and listen to your intuition. What you seek is seeking you. Your tools will come forward when you create the space for them to do so, and they will speak and teach when you honor them well. Most importantly, show up. Be there as often as possible, even if it’s just a few minutes daily. Light a candle or some incense, play soothing music, or just sit in silent meditation. However you choose to work with your altar space, may it be a sacred sanctuary that soothes your soul and brings magic to your life. And so it is.
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