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CREATING HOME ALTARS
What is a home altar? Simply put, a home altar is any place you choose to designate as your altar space, a space where you pray, meditate, or engage in ceremonies and rituals.
Wikipedia says, “An altar is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices and votive offerings are made for religious purposes, or some other sacred place where ceremonies take place”.
There are many different types of altars such as those you find in churches and shrines. Most altars related to a specific religious practice have certain items that need to be placed on the altar. If you are creating a home altar for practice of a certain religion please check with that religion for specifics. The altars we will discuss here are personal altars for your own spiritual practice.
Creating a personal home altar is really very simple. First, choose a private space that only you will be using, preferably some place without high traffic and noise. I have my personal altar located in a corner in my bedroom. I also have an altar outside in the most remote corner of my yard. You can choose any place that is comfortable for you.
To begin the creation of your altar, you will need some sort of a table or other structure upon which to place your spiritual, ritual or sacred items. Try to use an natural materials for the structure or your home altar such as wood, paper, stone or glass. These are more attuned to natural and spiritual energy than synthetic substances because they are of the earth. I have a friend that has a large flat stone set on the floor as her altar and it is very beautiful. My home altar is on a built-in vanity, chosen for its location. Be sure to choose something that is special to you, after all, it is your altar.
Once you have your altar and its location established, you will need to decide what to place on it. Again, this is up to you and your creativity. I always suggest a candle or two for a home altar. For color meanings of candles, please see the “About Spiritual Candles” article on the “Educational Articles” page.
If you have specific ceremonies and rituals you practice you will want your ritual items on your altar also. If just want a sacred space to pray or meditate place anything on your altar that is meaningful to you, your prayers and meditation. Many people have special metaphysical crystals, healing stones, singing bowls, photos of special people and places, smudge bowls, incense, statues, figurines, and the list goes on. The center piece of my personal altar is an altar board with the colors of the four directions, a smudging bowl and smudging feather. These are surrounded by my ceremonial tools such as my Sacred Pipe, rattles and drums, and healing crystals. There is also a candle on my altar to use for “Lighting Up”.
Dedication of your home altar space to its spiritual purpose is the next step. You can do this by either using a particular ritual, or by meditating and focusing your spiritual energy on the altar. How you dedicate the altar is very personal and must be significant to you.
Cleansing and protecting your home altar space on a daily (or near daily) basis is also important. There are many methods of spiritual cleansing you can use. Using the “Lighting Up” practice is a very good method of cleansing your sacred space. (see article on “Lighting Up”) Smudging with sage or other smudging herbs, using a singing bowl or Tibetan bell are also effective methods of cleansing and protecting your home altar space. Again, it is entirely up to you how to cleanse and protect your altar space.
Don’t feel that your home altar can’t change once it is set. I have found that many home altars evolve over time. They may grow or become simpler or change in reflection or your spiritual journey over time. And some don’t change at all. Again, this is all very personal between you and your spiritual practice.
And it is as simple as that! We would love to receive some emails sharing your experience building your home altar and pictures of the home altars that you create! firstname.lastname@example.org
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