Aside from comfort and convenience, secular altars have few requirements. If you're creating a meditation space, all you need is a comfortable location to sit or lay down. If you're going to use your altar for reading and journaling, it'll need to have a place to keep your books and pens, as well as be well-lit.
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Choose a Space for Your Altar
It can be as large as a spare room or as small as a bookshelf or a windowsill.
You should also think about the cardinal direction your altar faces. Some Christian groups, for example, position altars on the eastern side of the church to symbolize the rising sun and resurrection. You may also want your altar to face a direction that is special to you at home. Some people place their altars facing the direction of their motherland and ancestors.
If erecting a fixed altar in your home seems impractical right now, keep reading to the end of the post, where I provide a fun and ingenious suggestion for creating a pocket altar that is both movable and unobtrusive.
Consider a peaceful location with some seclusion. If you live with others, attempt to choose a spot that won't get in the way of others or be easily knocked over.
Examine whether the area is suitable for your requirements and feels ‘right'. Is it or can you make it calm, tranquil, and private? Is the energy in the room clear, bright, and friendly?
You can energetically ‘clear' the location you chose by burning incense or essential oils if you want to add a little enchantment.
If you're interested in doing a smoke cleanse (using white sage smudge sticks), make sure you get your herbs from Native American and Indigenous vendors. Many Native American countries regard smudging to be sacred medicine, and practice was illegal in the United States until 1978.
Gather Tools and Objects for Your Altar
Collect any tools or objects you'd like to keep on your altar using your intuition. Gather anything that speaks to your heart and'sparks joy,' as Marie Kondo would say, unless you're pursuing a certain spiritual path with precise restrictions on what to include.
- Photographs of your forefathers and mothers (when showing images of the deceased is appropriate in your culture)
- Souvenirs and memorabilia from significant spiritual or political turning points (e.g., an object from your first rally, a gift from a mentor, etc.)
- Flowers and plants (especially if the altar intends to reflect and celebrate the changing seasons)
- A shot glass of bourbon, fruits, or a little dish of rice and grains are examples of food offerings.
- Tarot cards, runes, oracle cards, or a crystal ball are examples of divination equipment.
What you keep on your altar has no criteria or limitations. You should never feel obligated to purchase altar accoutrements or believe that your altar isn't ‘complete' until it includes a cauldron, censer, chalice, wand, crystals, eighteen pillar candles in various colors, and other such items.
If you've never kept an altar before, I recommend starting simply with a single candle and a photograph of someone who represents something you want to grow more of in your life.
If and when it feels right to you, you can gradually add to your altar throughout the weeks, months, and years.
Arrange Your Altar
After you've cleansed your altar space (physically and/or spiritually), consider how you'd want to arrange the precious things you've collected on your altar.
Simple is better here, as having fewer artifacts will make it easy for them to find a place on your new altar.
If you want to protect the surface of your altar from incense ash or candle wax, start by laying down an altar cloth or a plate.
Many spiritual practices for altar building follow the rule of symmetry. Consider starting with the largest or tallest item and working your way outwards. You can also use plants/flowers, candles, and photos to symbolically match your favorite thing in the middle.
Work With Your Altar
If you're overwhelmed, starting with only one modest ritual per season is perfectly acceptable. Perhaps you clean and repaint your altar at the start of each season, putting out objects that signify the new season. For example, in the spring, you may put out a vase of fresh flowers, in the summer, sand and seashells, in the fall, pumpkins, and in the winter, holly and white candles.
Consider spending at least five minutes a day or fifteen minutes a week at your altar to meditate, journal, or set intentions if your goal with your altar is to build a more frequent practice of spiritual self-care.
My new moon and full moon rituals are two activities you can begin conducting at your altar every lunar cycle to give yourself time to check in with yourself.
The more you use your altar, the more it will become a sacred focal point in your daily life, amplifying warm, wonderful vibes throughout your house.
Because we all exist in the same universe, it's important to remember that we're all the same behind the layers of race, color, and gender. The gift of stars has been bestowed upon you.
What should be included in an altar?
Because altars are a kind of artistic expression, you can construct yours as simple or as elaborate as your heart desireswhatever seems right for you. “My most important piece of advice right now is to tune in to your intuition and most alive intentions,” Pichinson says. “Then build it from here point.”
Novo recommends writing out your spiritual intentions, such as what you're trying to call into your life, the energy you're trying to embody, or ancestors you'd like to support you, if you're a pen to paper type of mystic. Try something like “I am attracting greater love and success into my life” or “I am nurturing the sensation of safety and tranquility in my body” when crafting an intention. “Once you have those answers,” she advises, “start collecting stuff that have the same vibe as what you just laid out.”
So, what should you put on your altar, exactly? Novo promotes anything that encourages you to connect with your spiritual side or reminds you to create the energy you desire to embody. Consider the following scenario:
However, even if it isn't generally regarded magical or spiritually significant, you can put anything special and valuable to you on your altar. Seashells, for example, are kept on Novo's altar to remind her to be in flow.
What are the seven levels of an altar?
Every year on November 2nd, Mexico commemorates Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a celebration that is one of our culture's most enduring symbols. Going to the cemetery where loved ones are laid to rest and paying tribute to them with elaborate altars is usually part of a day's activities.
Altars represent a people's beliefs; they are a physical representation of their attitude toward death. The concept that the deceased's spirit returns to the world of the living to console them for their loss gives them their significance.
Altars are divided into two to seven levels, each with its own set of symbols. Heaven and earth are represented by two-level altars, with a third level added to represent purgatory. The seven levels reflect the seven steps that must be taken to reach paradise.
- Dedicated to the souls who are trapped in purgatory. The images are put so that the deceased can quickly leave purgatory if they end themselves there.
- A cross composed of seeds or fruits, symbolizing the ceremony's religious beliefs.
Incense, candles, water, alcoholic beverages, and marigold flowers are some of the most frequent offerings during Dia de los Muertos. The pan de muerto (special bread cooked for the day), sugar skulls, and colorful cut paper decorations are unquestionably the three most important aspects.
The origins of the bread of the dead can be traced back to pre-Hispanic times, when men sacrificed princesses' hearts and placed them in pots with amaranth. They'd then bite them to express gratitude to the gods for excellent harvests or the ability to overcome the adversary.
The conquering Spaniards did not completely accept these customs; instead, they invented an anatomical heart-shaped bread to reflect the rite, which they covered in red sugar to simulate blood. The skull is represented by the circle in the middle, while the bones are represented by the lines on the bread's sides.
Another common practice was to offer a sacrifice to the gods “tzompantli” is an altar with a string of skulls. Sugar skulls created from alfeique, a Spanish cane sugar confection, were used by the Spanish to modify this tradition.
Sugar, hot water, and a little lemon juice are used in the traditional Mexican dish. The mixture forms a putty that is poured into a mold and shaped into a skull. The eyes and a smile are then added with colored icing sugar.
This traditional decorative art expresses happiness via the use of colors, each of which has its own meaning.
These well-known “Tissue paper is used to construct “small flags,” which may be made in a variety of ways and designs.
What are spiritual altars?
The word altar comes from the Latin word altar, which means “high place,” indicating how sacred and significant it is in spiritual practice.
Altars are found in practically every religion and culture, and they can be formed of man-made or natural materials.
Altars can be used for contemplation, ritual, prayer, reflection, thankfulness, or any other form of interior activity in the spiritual, esoteric, and metaphysical senses.
Meditation altars can be tiny or vast, elaborate or simple, traditional or unconventional. Your altar's flavor, appearance, and feel will be determined by your personal interests and preferences.
Most importantly, because you are the one who will be interacting with your altar, it must look and feel real to your requirements.
How many types of altars do we have?
The area around the altar is thought to be endowed with greater holiness, and it is usually physically distinguished from the rest of the church, whether by a permanent structure such as an iconostasis, a rood screen, altar rails, or a curtain that can be closed during more solemn moments of the liturgy (as in the Armenian Apostolic Church and Armenian Catholic Church), or simply by the general architectural layout. The altar is frequently elevated above the rest of the church.
Larger churches in the Western branches of Christianity have had one or more side chapels, each with its own altar, as a result of the prior abandoning of concelebration of Mass, so that priests always said Mass individually. The “high altar” was another name for the main altar. Since the rebirth of concelebration in the West, the Roman Missal proposes that new churches have only one altar, “which will symbolise the one Christ and the one Eucharist of the Church in the assembling of the faithful.” However, most ancient Western churches, whether Roman Catholic or Anglican, had a high altar in the main body of the church, with one or more neighboring chapels, each with its own altar, where the Eucharist might be celebrated on weekdays.
There are two sorts of altars in terms of architecture: those that are affixed to the chancel's eastern wall and those that are free-standing and can be walked around, such as while incensing the altar.
What is the altar of prayer?
Altars were used in the Bible for sin atonement sacrifices as well as to commemorate a meeting with God. In Genesis 12, for example, God meets with Abraham and pledges to bless him. Abraham constructed an altar to the Lord as a memorial to this experience.
It's a place where we may reflect on all that he's done for us and ask for forgiveness for our transgressions. It's a location where we can commune with God through the Holy Spirit and present ourselves as living sacrifices.
Where should you place an altar in your house?
A solid foundation is required for any home altar. Feng shui altars are traditionally made of wood, but any firm foundation would suffice. Typically, a shelf, table, mantle, or desk are excellent possibilities. Some Feng Shui practitioners believe that the altar should always be over your shoulders, but if you're using it for meditation, it's more practical to have it closer to the ground, so altars that are hip-height or knee-height can suffice.
Why are there 3 steps to the altar?
At initially, Christian altars were not erected on steps. Those that were in the catacombs were forced to stand on the pavement. The confessio or confession, the spot where the remains of a martyr were deposited, was normally where the altars of churches in Rome were erected. They were raised one step above the sanctuary floor by the fourth century.
The number of steps was later increased. The main altar of a church was traditionally raised three steps above the level of the sanctuary, whereas side altars were only raised one step. Seven stairs lead up to the papal altar at St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
It was always an odd number that was chosen. Because it was customary to take the first step with the right foot, the priest would enter the predella (the platform or footpace on which the altar stood) with his right foot after ascending the first of the steps with his right foot. The same logic applied to pre-Christian temples, as Vitruvius noted in his De architectura: “The number of steps in front should always be odd, because, in that case, the right foot, which begins the ascent, will be the first to alight on the temple's landing.” The dextro pede custom is also mentioned in the Satyricon attributed to Petronius (right foot first).
Extensive rules were developed not only about the number of steps, but also about the material used, the height of each step, the breadth of the tread, the covering with carpets or rugs (both of which were to be removed from the stripping of the altars on Holy Thursday until just before the Mass on Holy Saturday morning, and the carpet alone at a Requiem Mass), and the color and design of the carpet in late medieval and early Tridentine times.
Altar steps and rugs are not mentioned in the current General Instruction of the Roman Missal.
What do the three steps of an altar represent?
Death is viewed as a tragic event in most Western societies, and discussions about it are often avoided. Mexicans, on the other hand, have a different perspective. Every year, from October 31 to November 2, Mexicans commemorate the deaths of family members and friends during the Day of the Dead “Celebration of the “Day of the Dead” (Dia de Los Muertos). The multiday celebration is frequently more upbeat than depressing. The altar (or ofrenda), which can be two to seven steps tall, is one of the most important parts of this rite.
‘The' “The altars for Dia de Los Muertos, which are made out of tables, crates, and shelves and can be found at cemetery sites or in houses, are exceptionally complex. The elements of air, water, fire, and earth must all be represented on the altars, no matter how enormous they are. The ground and sky are represented by an altar with two steps. The altar symbolizes purgatory, earth, and heaven, or the Holy Trinity, in three steps. The altars with seven steps are outstanding marvels.
Typically, a seven-step altar includes the following levels, from top to bottom:
1. A representation of a virgin or a saint
2. Candles and lights, which symbolize guides who assist souls in escaping purgatory.
Toys and salt figures, especially for youngsters.
4. Pan de Muerto (dead bread), as well as sugar skulls
5. The deceased's favorite foods and beverages (ex: mezcal or tequila)
6. Photographs of the dead
7. Marigold flowers, cut paper, and seeds or salt crosses
The “Day of the Dead” has Mayan roots, although it has altered over time as a result of Catholicism and colonialism. Death was considered as the beginning of a journey to the kingdom of the dead, which was followed by a journey to paradise. To finish their journey, the departed would have to make offerings along the road. Catholic crosses and religious symbols have been integrated over time. Regardless of religious views, the altar remains to be a place where loved ones who have passed away can be honored and celebrated.
When should I raise my altar?
You are supposed to build an altar whenever God reveals Himself to you. Whenever God speaks to you in a dream or in any other way, you must secure those blessings by going straight to your established altar or by erecting an altar at that location and sealing the revelation with a sacrifice offering. You can make a promise by sacrificing your money, your time, your food, your worship, and so on. But, for the love of God, do anything. Allowing that divine visitation to pass you by without making the most of it is a mistake. As a result, it isn't a physical altar.
When God's angel appeared to Manoah and her husband, Sampson's parents, they wasted no time in erecting an altar and offering a sacrifice: (Jud. 13:19). When Gideon had an angelic experience, he did the same. “Depart not, I implore thee, until I return unto thee and bring forth my present, and lay it before thee,” he said to the angel. (Judges 6:18a & 6:19a & 6:19a & 6:19
Every morning, Jesus, our forerunner, went to His customary spot of prayer on the Mount of Olives. That was His own private altar. He had constant open heavens as a result of everyday visitation to His altar (Mk.1:35).