What is a spiritual altar? How is it used?
Are you looking to connect with yourself in a deeper spiritual manner? Are you in the beginning of a spiritual journey and don't feel connected? Maybe you’re deep in your journey and still not feeling all the way there. Maybe you want to connect with the divine, or with a close spirit who guides you. Maybe you want to figure out who your spirit guides are. This page is for you, gorgeous.
What is an Altar?
If you have never heard of an altar or are in the beginning stages of discovering your own, you may want to know what are some common ways that people build them. There is no right or wrong way to build an altar. It is something that serves you and the spirit or energy that the altar is built to serve. Spirits appreciate the thought that goes into preparing your altar space. Some people believe that the altar is "the airports to which the spirits take off and land." I believe that any magic you create is not as powerful as the tools you use, but the strength of your spirit.
People create altars in all kinds of different cultures around the world. An altar, in my definition, is any designated area where a person performs spiritual work. Even if you are praying, the area in front of you becomes your altar. On the contrary, people create spaces, and even buildings and temples with shrines and statues as a place to perform their spiritual work. Any space that you define as sacred to you will work.
Why is an altar important to me as a young spiritual woman?
An altar can be used for meditation, ancestor and spirit connection, spellwork, prayer, and more. These things are important because that connection pushes you along your spiritual journey. Dedicating a space to your practice will serve you well, and bring you reward the longer you continue to nurture it. Starting at a young age will bring you deeper into your spirituality sooner, but there is no wrong age to start.
It is also important to use an altar to keep connections with your ancestors and spirit guides. This is the place where you can open up your space and heart for them to visit you. Again, the earlier you start building the connection, the more it can serve you in the future.
What are the elements of an Altar?
There are some elements that many altars have in common. Think of the 5 elements of the earth: Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Spirit. A lot of people strive to have representations of each of these elements in their altars. Air is represented by incense, Earth can be represented by crystals, salt, dirt, herbs, or plants, Fire is represented by a flame or a candle, and natural spring water or blessed water is placed at the altar. The fifth element, spirit, is embodied in yourself and the practices being done at the altar.
You may also elect to include many other types of things in your altar. This may include tokens of memory, photos of loved ones, or an object with sentimental value.
How is an Altar Used?
As stated earlier in this post, an altar is a place where you perform spiritual work. You can use it to your own strengths and preferences, but here are some ideas for using your altar:
- Praying at your altar to your chosen deity or spirit. Creating an altar for prayer is a great way to start off your spiritual practice. Include the 4 elements and anything else that has special meaning to you. If you have any physical representations of your chosen spirit or deity, you can include them here as well. For example: you may choose to put a photo of a fallen ancestor, a statue of your spirit animal, or a statue of a god or goddess, or even a cross.
- Using your altar to keep in touch with a certain spirit or harness a particular energy. Now that you have made an altar for general prayer, you can start to focus your altar on a specific deity. If you are honoring a passed away ancestor, gather things they like such as foods, scents, flowers, or objects and place them at the altar to honor them. You can do this with goddesses or other spirits as well. You can dedicate an altar to a certain ancestor or spirit to show them your honor for them and increase your connection with the spirit.
- Using an altar for protection. A protection altar can be used to drive away evil. There are many herbs, crystals, and practices regarding protection, but the main colors that serve this purpose are black. Gather black candles, black cloth, and black crystals. Use salt and blessed water for further protection and any items that hold spiritual meaning to you. Include your deities and guides. Dedicate this altar to protection.
- Using an altar to create magical or alchemist spells. Lastly, you can practice your magic or spells at your altar. You will have the same set up, or change it up to include items that serve your objective. Perform your spell like you normally would in the presence of your spiritual space, or prepare a new altar strictly for the purpose of the spell or magic work. An altar can be made anywhere.
- Meditating in front of your altar. whatever you choose to dedicate your altar to, you may also choose to meditate in front of it. Meditating near your spiritual space should enhance the experience of your meditation. It should feel comfortable and relaxing.
Now that you know what an altar is, some ideas for what to put in it, and how to use it, try making one of your own! I always include my favorite crystals in mine, which I normally use to honor fallen ancestors. The more you pour into them, the more they pour into you.
Another tip I read in a book once was that building your altar in a kitchen has a lot of advantages because of the sink and herbs in close use. Build your altar wherever suits your needs best. Be sure to spiritually cleanse any objects before placing them at your altar. You may choose to include spirits, flowers, tarot cards, fossils, feathers, and more. Also, putting your altar in a place that has some kind of shelving behind it really makes a huge difference as well and adds dimension to it.
Have fun! I would suggest that you do not post pictures of your personal altar for spiritual protection. However, that does not mean that there are not tons of examples of what an altar can be like on the internet. Get some inspiration too! You can add anything you want to your altar.
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I lovee this.. i have been wanting to make one but didn’t know where to start. This helps. Why shouldn’t we post pictures of our altars though?