What is an altar?
An altar is a space that we can create for prayer, worship, meditation, reflection, and more. Much like a church or temple, an altar can offer us our own private space for our spiritual practice. To be clear, an altar does not have to be associated with any specific religion, it doesn't have to be religious at all if you don't want it to. It could simply be a place for you to connect with your higher self, check in, and monitor your overall wellness.
Why create an altar?
As I mentioned an altar can offer a focal point for us to check in and concentrate on our wellness and nourish our spirit. It is as simple as stepping up to your altar, pausing, taking a deep breath, and being in the moment; a small act that could help destress or provide a little bit of a break in the middle of our crazy schedules. Most of us are fueled with an attitude of "Go Go Go", and spending a moment here and there at our altars can help slow us down and maybe pay a little attention to our body's needs.
Another great reason to create an altar is for the convenience of having your own spiritual space without having to drive anywhere or attend a spiritual or religious service. Of course, you may choose to go elsewhere, especially for those that enjoy the social aspect of going to church, but it is also really nice to have a quiet, private space that is all for yourself.
An altar can be ideal for someone who wants to develop a spiritual practice, but doesn't necessarily connect with a specific religion or church, instead they can foster their own beliefs and practices with the privacy and comfort of their own homes.
Setting Up an Altar
Your altar can be as simple or as elaborate as you'd like it to be. Here I have pictures of mine which sits on top of a table in my living room, up against the wall. My altar is pretty big but yours doesn't have to be. A small table, night stand, even a small corner in a book shelf will work nicely. You can even have your altar inside of a little suitcase or box, and take it with you on-the-go to the park, and set up your tools on top of the little box as if it were a table top, creating your own portable altar.
I recommend choosing a spot where you will have easy access to your altar and see it throughout the day. I work from home and I have to walk through my living room to get to any part of my house, so the wall I chose made a lot of sense for me. Pick a spot where you won't have people touching your altar or knocking into it. Afterall, you want it to be treated respectfully and to be aligned with your energy, not everybody else's. If privacy is an issue for you be resourceful, maybe the tallest shelf in the book shelf will work, maybe try the portable altar idea.
Decorating Your Altar
Once you've picked a place and a table or surface for your altar, it's time to decorate it. Choose items that are meaningful to you, and that perhaps remind you of what you aspire to be or parts of yourself you wish to honor. If for example, yellow flowers bring you joy, then use yellow flowers. If you aspire to be a professional swimmer, maybe include water imagery. If you have a God, or Goddess you like to work with include a picture or symbol of this deity. Consider adding crystals, herbs, fabrics, flowers, photos, incense, anything that you think will spark joy in you and make you want to visit your altar. I would also recommend including a little candle that you can light for a few moments at a time whenever you visit your altar.
Don't feel pressured to make yours grand and complicated. Think of your altar as an expression of you. If you're the type of person who likes to wear colorful patterns and glitter than perhaps your altar will be really flamboyant. If your taste is much simpler, than perhaps your altar will be really minimal and plain. Either way is fine. The important thing is to have a space that you can focus your energy, and have a moment to yourself to connect and nourish your spirit through meditation, reflection, and so on.
Using Your Altar
Now that you have it all set up, use it! It's exciting to get your altar together but it doesn't mean much if you don't actually use it. I don't mean that you have to create a complex ritual at your altar every day, who has time for all that? But do use it. You can walk up to your altar once a day and give thanks for all your blessings, recount all the things you're grateful for, pray for that promotion or for that sick relative, check in with yourself and say "hey good job completing that project". The altar is yours to do what you wish with it.
How I use My Altar
I like to redecorate my altar from time to time with different themes to support different ideas or projects I might be working on. Right now my altar is dedicated to the universal Goddess energy, and to be more specific, the Goddess Freya. I have been concentrating a lot on battling my insecurities and cultivating more self love and compassion so I decorated my altar with things that I associate with feminine, Goddess-like energy, and symbols of beauty. On my altar I also have a journal, a goal planner, and a book that I'm reading called The Body Sacred by Dianne Sylvan which talks about body image and self-love.
If you're curious you can CLICK HERE to see a video I did on the Summer Solstice where I give you a little tour of my altar.
I hope that you've enjoyed this and that it will inspire you to create an altar of your own. My altar is full of art but maybe yours will be completely different. I encourage you to truly make it your own. If you're stuck try searching on Pinterest for ideas but ultimately you should go with what feels right for you. Feel free to comment below if you have any thoughts you'd like to share.