Understanding Your Daily Focus
There is something about autumn that makes me feel inspired to create, decorate, and craft, and I always feel the urge to spruce up my altar as the season changes. An altar is a designated sacred space, used to commune with the spirit world, spirit guides, deities, and the Universe. Churches and temples of myriad religions have altars, and there are similarities that connect all different kinds of worship.
Creating your altar is a personal journey, and I believe there is no wrong way to go about it. A good place to start is by clearing off a shelf or candle-safe surface and putting small items that have meaning for you. I often use crystals, candles, photos, Tarot cards, old letters, dried flowers, oils, and other small trinkets. Depending on the purpose of your altar, you can customize it to fit your needs. In this week’s Daily Focus, I want to give you a few ideas for altars that I have used in the past. If you feel at peace and connected while crafting and creating, altar work can be a wonderful hobby and stress reliver, in addition to being a spiritual practice.
Saturday, October 17
“To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” –George Santayana
I am a big fan of cycles. The moon, the sun, the seasons. All of these make for wonderful ways to track the passing of time and our own growth. If you’re the kind of person who sets long term goals for yourself, a seasonal altar might be just what you need. You can focus on the three months ahead, and what you want to accomplish during that time. Use items that encapsulate the spirit of the season: fruit and yellow candles for summer, dried leaves and orange candles in fall, crystals, white candles and mint in winter, and green candles, fresh flowers, and herbs for spring. Make a list of achievable goals and try to set time aside each day to light your candle or reflect on whether or not you’re where you want to be.
Sunday, October 18
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” –Thomas Campbell
One of the most common uses of altars, especially inside the home, is to use it as a space to honor the dead. If you’ve lost loved ones, keeping their pictures, jewelry, postcards, or mementos in one spot may already be something you do. It’s a way to keep someone’s memory and spirit alive and with us. It’s a good idea to keep fresh flowers on this altar. In Mexico, during Dia De Los Muertos, people put flowers on their altars so the scent of the flowers can guide the spirits back home. Often, people will display items that were important to their loved ones during their life, to show respect and hold that space for them, physically and spiritually.
Monday, October 19
“Aphrodite had the beauty; Zeus had the thunderbolts. Everyone loved Aphrodite, but everyone listened to Zeus.” –Esther Friesner, Nobody’s Princess
One of my personal favorite uses for altars is to honor and thank spirit guides and deities that guide us. If you’re someone who is religious, you may already have an altar with pictures or symbols of those you worship. If you’re unsure where to start, a good place to look is at your own ancestors and what their ancient practices were. In Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology, there is a lot of crossover between gods and goddesses who control different aspects of daily life. If you’re looking to improve your love life, an altar to Venus, also known as Aphrodite and Freya, would be a great way to honor her and invoke her help. If you’re concerned about the upcoming Mercury in retrograde, you can set up an altar to honor Mercury himself and ask for clear paths forward.
Tuesday, October 20
“The best lightning rod for your protection is your own spine.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
One of the best and simplest ways to dress an altar is for protection. White is the color for this. White candles, white salt, white stones. Light a candle for anyone you wish to protect with your light.
Wednesday, October 21
“Fertility comes from the soil, from the heart.” –Marty Rubin
One of the most stressful things an artistic mind can face is the feeling of a creative block. If you or a loved one is feeling the stress of this, try creating an altar of abundance. Things like flowers in pots, fresh fruit, and green candles can be used to bring about abundance and fertility and will help kickstart your inspiration.
Thursday, October 22
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” –Rumi
A healing altar is also an easy way to break into altar decorating. If you’re looking to heal your own emotional pain, or that of a friend or family member’s, try setting up an altar with a blue candle. Blue is the color of healing. Holy water or water left in the moonlight, blue stones like Lapis and Sodalite, as well as certain metallic stones like Hematite are wonderful additions to this altar.
Friday, October 23
“Holidays are necessary celebrations of human collectiveness. It reminds us we’re a part of society.” –Kailin Gow
If you like to change your altar regularly, dressing it for each holiday can be a fun way to keep it fresh. With Samhain, or Halloween, approaching, this is a great time to create a functional and aesthetic altar. You can decorate any holiday you personally celebrate, whether or not altar decorating is a typical part of celebrating. It is a great way to take time and appreciate the fleeting moments in life, and a fun way to display personal treasures and holiday spirit.
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