If you want more spirituality in your life, more meaningful ways to connect to yourself and your inner voice, and the world around you, and a more feminine way to set intentions and goals, have you ever tried creating an altar?

I started by creating a season table to help my children visualise the turning of year many years ago, when they were small. Over the years it slowly morphed into an altar. In fact I have several altars in my house. I use them to help me focus on what I want to bring more into my life, and to remind me of tuning in, and of what is important to me right now.

Creating an altar is a bit like creating a vision board. It is like a 3D vision board. It is a way to give form to your desires and to help you stay on track with what you want to bring more of in your life. It also helps me to bring more spirituality into everyday life.

What is an altar?

  • The Merrian Webster dictionary defines an altar as “a table or place which serves as a center of worship or ritual”.
  • I believe that our lack of rituals leaves us feeling disconnected to ourselves and to each other. We need spirituality in our lives the way we need food and water, lest we feel longing and emptiness.
  • When I visit cultures where spirituality is still  part of everyday life, such as my husband’s birth place of Hong Kong, I notice that people have little altars everywhere, and that they aren’t restricted to places of worship. You find them at the entrance of people’s homes, as well as inside. People place offerings on these altars, such as flowers or fruits, and often burn incense.
  • For me an altar is a way to give form to your connection to your own desire for spirituality and connection.

How do you make an altar?

  • An altar can be simple or intricate. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it feels true and good to you. Often, less is more.
  • It can, but doesn’t have to, include religious symbols or figures. The most important thing is that it resonates with you.
  • It can be as simple as a picture or a card, and a candle. You could put in on a mantle piece, a windowsill, or a shelf. 
  • It can include objects, such pictures/cards, figures and stones that feel special to you, and/or that represent something that you want more of in your life, or in the life of your loved ones. It can include some form of incense (or an essential oil diffuser).
  • You could also choose to include objects to represent the four elements : air (feather), fire (candle), earth (stone), and water (a cup or small bottle with water).
  • It can be permanent or temporary, and it can be made in nature as well as indoors. When I drum in the woods with my drum sisters, we co-create an altar from a mix of personal objects and things we find in nature (it’s different every time), and animal cards. We remove it after we are done drumming. Many of the outdoor dances and retreats I have taken part in involve the creation of a community altar. A mandala made from objects found in nature could be considered an altar.
  • I usually make an altar when I teach ritual workshops or when running mother blessings.

What do I use on my altar?

Here is a list of everything I placed on my latest one. My altars change according to my focus and mood, and throughout the year too (I aim to refresh it every 3 months or so). I love magical objects and I have accumulated a rather large collection over the years, so please do not feel that you have to copy me, I only provide this list for inspirations and ideas:

  • A cloth to cover the table
  • Bear totem,  cards, framed picture, altar cloth, wand, stone and drum beater by Jaine Rose (can you tell I’m a fan of her work?)
  • Healing doll, and custom drumming doll by Fabricsoul
  • Clay dish by Eslpeth Owen
  • Miniature Amma doll (blessed by Amma)
  • Various crystals
  • Phoenix Egg (homemade gift from a friend)
  • Triskel painted stone
  • Items found in nature : seashell, hagstone, staurolite, feathers (Heron, swan, Macaw)
  • Small clay dish made by my daughter
  • Painted stones
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