As someone who was raised in a Christian household, altars used to feel like maybe I was pushing the envelope just a little too far! Those messages about 'thou shall not worship false idols' went in early and deep.
But of course, altars can be many, many things. And if you do have a figure as part of your altar, you aren't worshiping the figure itself, but all that it represents and stands for.
Having a physical center in your home that reminds you of where your reverence and intention flow is a very practical way to live a more sacred life.
Creating altars has always been a special gift of Debbie Leavitt, a dear friend of mine from our herb school days. She's someone with an inborn gift for bringing beauty and sweetness to everything she touches. And so today, she's agreed to share her philosophy for creating (or updating) an altar of your own.
On her website, Deb offers an assortment of bundles to inspire your own unique altar and today through the Solstice (12.21) she's even extending a special discount ONLY to people reading this here. Check out her magical offerings at www.sheswai.com. and enjoy 20% off with the code ADVENT21!
And now, Deb's insights on the art of altar crafting:
Sacred Self Care for the Modern Human
By Debbie Leavitt
Like a seed that is planted with intention and cared for lovingly, we too need tender
care with our own growth & blossoming.
And like those seeds we each grow in our own time in our own way.
We are uniquely individual.
Creating a sacred space for yourself, an altar, is like your own nutrient rich soil that
holds space for your growth and evolution.
A personal altar is a way to call in spiritual energy, your personal touchstone to the Divine. Creating an altar space is a practice that can assist you on your journey of Self-discovery and spiritual awakening.
It is a sacred space to honor your sacred Self ~ that unseen all-knowing place within often considered our Soul or Spirit.
With an intention to heal, manifest, and become our highest Selves, we can create a physical space to align with our deepest knowing, intuition, and heartfelt truths.
Your Self is Sacred, Your Care is Potent
An altar can be any size, in any (or every) room, as elaborate or as simple as you’d like. An altar is a place, within your space to honor your intentions for the highest good; an energy that can aid in healing and transformation.
It can be a space for wishes, prayers, dreams to manifest, a place to meditate, to mindfully journal, or simply a place of beauty that brings you peace. Here you can put anything that holds a special meaning for you...
a statue of a deity, books, tarot/oracle cards, photos, crystals, shells, rocks, flowers, bells…any treasures that you’ve collected that hold a precious feeling for you. A place to light your candles with intention, to make offerings, and to share gratitude. When connecting with ourselves in this way magic can manifest in the most astounding ways.
An altar can be the way you arrange things on your nightstand, a corner in the bathroom or kitchen, the way you detail your mantle or a table for all to see.
Creating an altar for yourself is a touchstone to connect with the desires & dreams you’d like to see come to light.
You can also offer up the things/patterns/habits that you may be holding onto and would like to release.
The placing of objects and lighting candles with reverence becomes an artform reflecting your spiritual practice & growth. An altar is ever-changing; sometimes simple with just a candle, other times with layers of nature-found treasures and specific herbs when practicing spellwork.
You can ‘dress’ your altar with each season and can add or remove objects with the phases of the moon.
It’s best to clean the chosen place of your altar before anything else - mindfully cleaning your space of dust, and burning sacred herbs or resins is a way to cleanse the energy of your space before building a sacred altar.
After your space is primed, place a favorite piece of cloth or a tray of decoration & protection for your sacred tools.
You can represent the four directions (the elements) on your altar as suggested here:
EARTH - crystals, rocks, flowers, plants
AIR - incense or a diffuser with essential oils
FIRE - candles
WATER - a small bowl of water
When you have created a space with some of your treasured objects, close your eyes taking a few deep breaths to settle into your body...calming your mind...allowing your nervous system to rest easy with care.
The first thing I like to do is light my candles with intention. Holding a candle in my hands at my heart and speaking my prayers into them with the energy of my will for the highest good for all. Lighting candles initiates a connection to Spirit, to your higher Self. Mindfully lighting your candle with the awareness of your intention is one of the keys to healing, manifestation, and making your own potent magic.
Take some time to write/journal about what you are calling in and what you may be letting go of ~ perhaps writing a word or phrase that you can keep on your altar and perhaps burn when you are ready to release it.
Play with tarot or oracle cards, shuffling them in your hands feeling into what you would like more clarity around.
Ringing a bell to signify the beginning of your practice or resolution.
There is no right or wrong way to create an altar , only what you feel called to honor in a way that connects you to your Divine Sacred Self.
And So It Is.