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 is a spiritual altar?
Simply described, an altar is a physical object or combination of objects that have spiritual importance to you, or that reflect an element, archetype, or energy whose influence you would like to have present in your spiritual practice, arranged in a meaningful fashion and in a purposeful place.
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.
How many types of altars are there?
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.
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).
What are altars decorated with?
A photograph of the evoked relative is laid on the altar to bring him back to life.
Fresh flowers are used to decorate the altar in the hopes of making the returning souls feel welcomed and happy. Day of the Dead Flowers are utilized to decorate the altars, and their use is determined by local costumes, availability, and financial capacity.
The cempasuchil, also known as the flor de muertos (flower of the dead), is one of the most commonly utilized flowers during the festival; in some locations, its petals are used to create a trail from the house door to the altar, indicating the passage for the souls who are returning.
In some areas, altars with two levels are used to represent heaven and earth; in others, altars with three levels are used to represent heaven, purgatory, and earth; and in still others, altars with seven levels are used to represent the steps a soul must take to reach paradise.
Symbolizes the entrance into the afterlife. It can be created with cempasuchil flowers in Michoacán State or reed in Puebla State, depending on where it is located.
Papel picado, or chiseled paper, is a type of altar cloth made of paper flags carved with saints' figures, skulls, and skeletons. For the way they move, they are thought to resemble the element air by some.
The Day of the Dead bread, or pan de muertos, is unique to each region of the country and is one of the most essential aspects of the altar because it is a catholic fraternal offering to the souls.
Skulls made of sugar, chocolate, or amaranth seeds signify death and its constant presence.
The children's souls will be treated with alfeique (almond paste), fruits, donkeys, angels, and skeletons, as well as a variety of handcrafted chocolates.
Every region of Mexico has a signature meal that is regarded the most festive and delectable, and it is usually the centerpiece of the altar. The turkey with mole is a good example; these meals are pricey, and most rural families only prepare them for this occasion. Tamales, atole, fruits such as oranges and apples, and desserts such as calabaza en tacha (candied pumpkin) are also available.
Adult souls are served tequila, mezcal, and pulque (fermented agave juice) to rest and enjoy with their families. If the honored one smoked a pack of cigarettes, a pack of cigarettes will be placed on the altar.
Candles guide the souls to the altar and back to the afterlife; they represent light, hope, and faith. The number of candles on the altar is determined by local tradition; in some areas, one candle is lighted for each honored soul; in others, four candles are lit, one for each cardinal point; and in most places, the number of lights is determined by the family's financial resources.
Petates (palm tree leaf braided carpets) are placed in designated areas for the spirits to lie down and rest.
A glass of water is placed on the altar to quench the thirst of the souls who have traveled a long distance.
The resin from the same-named tree is burned to purify the area and attract souls with its delicious aroma.
To make him feel at ease, honored tools, clothing, or toys are sometimes added to the offering.
Candle holders, incense burners, papier mache or clay figures of skulls or skeletons doing a certain task, or animals A clay xoloitzcuintli dog is placed in the altar in some locations to make the children's souls feel welcome when they arrive at the fete.
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.
How do you do an altar call?
I've delivered over 2,000 altar calls and led over two million individuals in a salvation prayer throughout my years as an evangelist. Here are a few of the secrets I've discovered.
1. Make an altar call at all times. Don't take it for granted that everyone in the room is safe. Every service should include a chance for people to make a decision for Christ. Reinhard Bonnke recounts a story about being at a lunch gathering with 200 pastors. He felt led to make an altar call by God. He was afraid that if he issued an altar call, the pastors would be upset, but he obeyed and gave them the opportunity to be rescued. During the cleaning of the tables, eight waiters stepped up and pledged their lives to Jesus.
2. Begin by thinking about the eventual result. The altar call should not be an afterthought tacked on at the end of a sermon; rather, it should be the point of departure for the entire discourse. From the first words spoken, the evangelistic discourse should prepare people to react to the altar call. The speaker should carefully prepare his altar calls and ensure that the congregation is ready to react.
3. Let your audience know where you're headed. It is not necessary to be surprised at the point of decision. I frequently offer a testimony about a guy or woman who has given his or her life to Jesus in the middle of my sermon. “I'm going to give you an opportunity to make a decision to follow Jesus in just a few minutes,” I say. Inform your audience that they will be receiving an invitation. Inform them that they will have the opportunity to meet God, repent of their sins, or start a new life.
4. Request that people begin to respond long before you make the altar call. When I was preaching in India, the audience gave me a stony glare. No one moved, no one raised their hands, and no one came forward when I issued the altar call. The message had an effect on the people, but many were too shy to respond. I discovered that if I want a response towards the end of the service, I need to start asking for responses earlier in the evening. As a result, I frequently urge individuals to repeat my sermon points aloud. I request that they raise their hands in the air. I request that my audience clap their hands. When I urge individuals to do something simple, their souls are prepared to respond to God when I make the salvation call.
5. Bring people to a point of decision. There are just two options available. Will you follow Jesus or will you turn away from Him? Look at how clearly Moses lays out the options: “I have placed life and death, blessing and cursing, before you; so choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). “Well, Billy, what do I have to do?” was a common way for Billy Graham to begin his altar call. Graham would then instruct them on how to place their confidence in Christ.
6. Provide detailed explanations. Keep in mind that what you are used to has never been heard by your audience. An inexperienced evangelist gave an altar call, which I heard. “Raise your hand if you have never uttered the prayer before,” he urged. None of the unbelievers had any idea what prayer he was referring to. People glanced around perplexed. There was no response. The preacher knew he was talking about the salvation prayer, but his unsaved audience had no idea what he was talking about because he never described what a salvation prayer was. Make sure you explain what religious terminology means in the body of your message if you utilize it during your altar call. If you ask someone if they want to be born-again, for example, you must thoroughly explain what it means in the Bible.
7. Be very precise about what you want them to do. “Raise your hand if you want Jesus to pardon your sin,” or “Please walk to the front right now if you want to join God's family,” or “If you want to be born-again, bow your head before God and repeat these words after me,” or something similar. These instructions are straightforward, and they force each person to choose whether or not to accept Christ.
8. Aim for complete attendance at the altar call.
I never ask individuals to make a “first-time” decision; instead, I ask them to make a “this-time” decision. The invitation is written in such a way that anyone can respond positively to the Gospel message. When I lead an audience in a salvation prayer, I invite everyone to join in. Allow people to react to Jesus in a simple way. After everyone has participated in the salvation prayer, I get more detailed for follow-up purposes. “Our counselors have a book to give you as a gift if you decide to follow Jesus for the first time tonight,” I might say. Please raise your hand immediately if you want a copy of the book, and a councilor will come over to you.” “If you've been running away from God for a while, but tonight you've decided to come home to the Father's house, please come to the front so one of my friends can pray for you,” or “If you've been running away from God for a while, but tonight you've decided to come home to the Father's house, please come to the front so one of my friends can pray for you.”
9. Make a hasty call to the altar. It's possible that this is the last chance for your listeners to be saved. D.L. Moody used to give individuals a few days to consider whether or not they wanted to follow Jesus. However, on October 8, 1871, a cow kicked over a light, igniting the Great Chicago Fire, which resulted in widespread devastation and death. “I want to tell you of one lesson I learned that night that I have never forgotten,” Moody says, “and that is, when I preach, to urge Christ upon the people right there and then, and attempt to bring them to a decision right then and then.” I'd sooner have my right arm amputated than give a week to an audience to decide what to do with Jesus.”
10. Allow plenty of time for individuals to respond. The altar call does not need to be rushed. Allow time for your audience to consider their options. The invitation is a significant event. Eternal lives are a delicate balancing act. Frequently, I will give an invitation, then take a few minutes to walk over the Gospel message again, and then repeat the process.
11. If no one responds, don't become discouraged. Our mission is to bring Christ to all people, not to bring Christ to all people. People are drawn to salvation by the Holy Spirit, not by your deep lecture, polished speaking, or heart-wrenching tale. “God holds us responsible for genuine evangelism, not for successful evangelism,” writes Ralph Bell.
12. There is no such thing as a terrible time for an altar call. Joel Hitchcock recounts how he met a high-ranking government official. The official's handlers provided Joel specific instructions on how to act and respond during an official audience before the meeting. They started talking about God when the official met Joel. The official's heart was affected by God, and he seemed interested in what Joel was saying. “I don't know much about etiquette, but I do know a lot about the altar call,” Joel explains. “So, do you want to give your life to Jesus?” he asks. “Yes,” he answered.