The impulse to create an altar in your home is an intuitive message to invite more reflection into your world. Carving out sacred space can be a way to reconnect with what is still and divine within you. Building an altar delineates a dedicated space for silence, prayer, gratitude and contemplation; for you.
An altar doesn’t have to be connected to a specific spiritual practice. It is simply a carved out area that you have committed for reverence and devotion. This can be a place where you meditate, ask for guidance, deepen your gratitude, break open, sing, yearn or find peace.
All you need to get started is your imagination and your intuition. You don’t need to be confined by rules. If you want to put Beyoncé ticket stubs on your altar, go nuts! This is your expression. Altars can truly be anything you like.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Find a spot in your home that makes sense. This should be a mellow, low-traffic spot and one in which you would enjoy sitting. An altar is traditionally raised on a table or shelf. You can have one on the floor, as well, but just make sure to put all of your objects on a piece of fabric or tile or wood to give them their own area.
2. Energetically clean the space before you set it up by smudging it. You can use any kind of smudge—evergreen, white sage, palo santo. I like to begin by smudging the area in counter clockwise circles and saying out loud what I wish to clear from my space (i.e. stress, anxiety, confusion etc.). Then, I smudge in clockwise circles, saying out loud what I would like to infuse in the space (i.e. clarity, peace, divine guidance etc.
3. Choose a focal point to build around. This can be a bouquet of flowers, a photograph of a spiritual teacher or someone you love that is no longer here, a statue, a giant crystal cluster, a god or goddess or a piece of art. This central piece should align with your intention. Think about what you would like to feel around your altar, what its purpose is in your life, and go from there.
4. Know your deities. If you choose a statue, pick a statue with a facial expression you like. This is how you know it’s the one for you. I don’t think that you need to be a devout Buddhist to have one on your altar. I do think that you should desire to connect with the principles of the statue you choose. Do your research and choose a figure that represents what you would like more of in your life. One insider tip that I recently learned at a traditional Puja: Kali does not like to be kept inside, only in temples. I know she is badass, but it may create tension and anxiety for you if there is a statue of her in your home.
5. Add crystals that speak to you. Crystals work through the principles of unconditional love, non-attachment and intention. Whichever crystals you are attracted to are also choosing you. Clean them first (there are several ways to do this depending on the type of crystal) and charge them with an intention. Choose how you’d like to feel and sit with the crystal for a bit before adding it to the altar.
You may also want to include dried or fresh fruits, nuts, flowers, mala beads, shells, trinkets gifted from friends or anything else that you feel guided to include. Your altar is a personal expression of you and should be a space that looks beautiful to your eye. It can shift and change as you do, metamorphosing as your life does.
If you want your altar to have a love focus, add things in pairs and place it in your love corner (located in the rear right of your home or room). If you want it to have an abundance focus, include a statue of Lakshmi, write yourself a “Paid in Full” check from the Universe and place in your wealth corner (located in the rear left of your home or room). You can consult a Bagua map if you wish to power up your altar with Feng Shui principles.
All in all, your altar should be a place for you to rest your mind and recharge your soul. Spend time there everyday or as often as you desire. It’s there for you as a beautiful representation of spiritual support and commitment to self.