A Focus for the sacred
Of all the ways to connect with spirit, I find the altar to be very powerful.
For thousands of years people have been making altars where they live, turning their domestic place into a sacred space.
The ancient altar was the focal point of all religious devotion and aspiration.
An altar in the home is a special acknowledgment of our home as our safe harbor and our sacred space. It elevates the place where we live to a temple, a spiritual location where we can dwell as spiritual beings.
My shamanic teacher often referred to the altar as a canvas of the soul. We create ourselves and our journey with the objects that we place there. Our altar reveals our heart and our deepest longing.
My first altar was a display of random, pretty objects that had no deeper meaning to me. Nevertheless it helped me center and it gave me a sense of peace.
My altar of today is a bit more involved and each piece is carefully chosen for its particular medicine or symbolism. We each decide the unique use and purpose of our altar. Photos of loved ones, a vase of flowers and a candle is as much an altar as a collection of religious symbols.
I travel with a mini version of my altar and I like to put it up wherever I go, just to anchor myself. The altar changes character as I add pieces that are native to the area I'm in.
We spent a winter by the ocean in Southern California not too long ago. I collected rocks and shells from the beautiful shore and placed them on my altar as a way to connect with the unique energy of that place.
There are sites in nature that appear to be altars in and by themselves. I consider the West Temple of Zion Canyon such a place. The spirits of this mountain summon me when I need to contemplate a specific matter. I go there to do ceremony and replenish.
Because I enjoy doing ceremony in nature, I love garden altars. I spent several hours in our yard, building a shrine under a tree, one fall day of last year. The tree has a feminine energy and I call it the mother tree. A Mother Mary figurine, that was given to me by a friend, turned out to be a perfect host for this shrine. I visit the mother of all hearts whenever I have a special prayer.
It's often recommended that you keep your altar in a quiet and secluded place in your home. I arranged mine to be the center of our living room because I didn't have enough space to keep it private and I quite like it. Having easy access to my altar helps me focus on the spiritual more often. I activate it when I have guests or a client over for their benefit as well.
There are many ways to work with your altar. I like to place Tarot cards and other objects that remind me of current soul themes I am moving through. An altar can be used for manifestation as well. Placing objects that represent what you would like to create, is a powerful way to move the energy to align with your dreams. Your wishes are being worked on the level of the sacred even when your focus is elsewhere.
Many like to center in prayer and meditation in front of their altars. I sometimes activate my altar to cleanse my home and raise the vibration. Incense, oils, candles and singing summon the spirits. I find it important to activate and close the altar with intent. This is because the energies at work serve many and must not be held up indefinitely.
The nature of life is that it is always changing and our altars will change as we go through different stages of healing and growth. It is important to allow for this movement of energy. An abandoned altar tells us something about the state of our inner affairs and the altar pieces weaken in their power and purpose when we neglect them.
I have kept an altar for over ten years and I find it hard to live without this travel partner, much like my journals. It is the first thing I set up when I move to a new home, making sure that the sacred has a focus in my life.
If you would like to set up an altar and need help getting started, I include it in my Warming the Earth session.
Have a wonderful week ahead!