I recently made the time to set up my sacred space in my new home, my altar. Home altars are an important aspect of connecting to spirit, ancestors and also as meditation or prayer spaces separate from the rest of the home, where the clutter of daily life is not allowed. This is your space for sacred connection.
Altars are in use in all kinds of religious organizations and spiritual traditions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Taoism, Feng Shui, African and Afro-Diaspora traditions, and Shamanism as well as in Neopaganism and Ceremonial Magic. Judaism did so until the destruction of the Second Temple. Many historical European faiths also made use of them, including Greek, Celtic and Norse religions.
The altar in your home can be an addition to the above-mentioned faiths and traditions, or it can be a personal space you create specifically for your intentional, spiritual or meditative purposes. There are as many suggestions of how to set up your altar, and how that should be done, as there are faiths and traditions. Consulting the leaders of those traditions on how to create your sacred space is one way, reading literature on suggestions is another. I have consulted my personal teachers, but you can also make your own space even if you do not follow a tradition or faith. The altar is your sacred space. Some of the themes seem to be universal….
First, what is the essence of an altar? A place to honor Divine energies, express gratitude, give offerings and ask for blessings and protection.
When you think of Divine energies, or blessings, what images come to mind, what colors or symbols?
Find images that speak to you of love, devotion, protection, or any other feelings you associate with divine energies. These can be statues or images, find what you like the most because it is your altar. The most beautiful altars are the ones that are infused with personal meaning, the ones that have a strong energy connection to the person who created the altar.
Think of an image that will center the energy of your altar and serve as a focal point. You do not have to start with many items, in fact, the more simple the altar is, the more powerful and meaningful is each altar item.
Home altars often have an image or statue of the deities from your faith/tradition along with any symbolic representations, such as angels, wings, flowers, etc. Another approach is to create an altar with natural elements, such as stones, shells, wood, plants and water in a cup or bowl. You might also want to look for some beautiful fabric for your altar.
There are 3 items that are common for many altars because they help create an elevated energy, as well as purify the space. These are:
Incense or Essential Oil Burners
Start with a space that is higher than the floor level, best to find space on a shelf or on a table surface. Choose a spot that you do not use for practical purposes, meaning you will not have to disturb the energy of your altar to use the spot for other activities.
You might want to clean the space well, as well as do a mini – space clearing session for the area, this will assure a fresh, clean foundation for your altar. Spend a bit of time clarifying your intent, or saying a prayer. In other words, focus your attention, intentions and be completely present.
Then place the items you chose in the way that speaks to you the most. Trust your intuition as to the right placement, and know that it is actually good to move your altar items often and keep the energy flowing and fresh.
The energy of your altar will get stronger in time and is powered by your attention to it, so be sure to keep your connection to it. Light a candle, burn fragrant incense, spend some time every morning or night in silence by your altar.
Your altar will inevitable change in time, so trust that you do not have to have it all perfect when you start. Sometimes a candle and a crystal might be all you need to begin with. It is the energy you feel and your urge to express it that matters the most.
For bigger, more elaborated altars, you may want to consider the advice of priests/priestesses, elders, practioners, etc. of your chosen faith/tradition. Another theme that is prevalent in may traditions, is representation of the ancestors. These can be photographs of immediate ancestors such as deceased family members or someone from the past whom you feel a strong connection to.
You can have more than one altar in your home, as well as several altars/sacred spots in your garden. For an outdoor garden, you can also work with a water feature, as well as crystals and garden statues.
The sky is the limit when it comes to expressing your creativity and your love for the Divine. Eventually, one comes to realize that every spot, every step and every moment is sacred. And any place where you find yourself becomes an altar.
I like creating a specific place in the home so that when I am feeling disconnected from Divinity more likely the case, the Divine in Me, I have a designated spot I know I can always go to to reconnect with that energy.