Altars serve as sacred places that aid in the shifting from the busy day-to-day life into the spiritual realm. Not only is an altar comprised of the psychic area, but also the spiritual atmosphere that one creates to surround the altar. There is no specific blueprint for constructing an altar, and what you psychically use to build your altar is not nearly as important as the devotion you put into it, and your ongoing interactions.
What has drawn you to create an altar? Reconnecting with a loved one that passed? Creating a sacred place of honor, serving as a shrine to a specific individual? Perhaps you want to create a “for cause” altar, something directing energy to a purpose, like aiding in a legal situation, or fighting to overcome a serious illness?
Before you begin, quiet and calm yourself to become clear in your intentions, and discover specifically what it is that you are called to create. After you are certain, using your intuition and guides to help you in your endeavors, begin visualizing what it will look like. Remember that as you begin the crafting, the most important aspect of this undertaking is the intent that you will be creating while psychically crafting your sacred space.
Phase 1: Location, location, location! Select an appropriate space inside your home or outdoor location for the altar. The space needs to be quiet and somewhat set apart from heavy traffic patterns. This will lessen the chance of others meddling with or disrespecting your altar, and allow for quiet and deeper processing when you use it.
Phase 2: Clean by removing any clutter around the area that you are intending to be your sacred space.
Phase 3: Now that it has been psychically cleaned, energetically clear the areas by either sprinkling water or smudge-burning your favorite incense over and around the sacred space. You may even ritually “sweep” the area to get rid of any old energy or to ensure a fresh start.
Phase 4: Define the space by using a rug, decorative rope, curtain, portable wall, or even a stone formation. Get creative! By giving the altar a distinct boundary, you create a separation between the everyday world and the spiritual. When you can physically see a perimeter, the boundary, you are able to mentally shift from one world to the other as you step over this line upon visiting your altar.
Phase 5: Devise a solid surface – either a small table or wall shelf which will hold items associated with the person you are honoring, or cause you are focusing on. You can then adorn the space with mundane fabrics, rugs and soft lighting or candles.
Phase 6: Now that you have a basic, attractive structure, collect and place items on the altar that represent your spiritual purpose. These include photographs, jewelry, personal belongings, stones that serve as a conduit for energy, and offerings you may wish to give. These serve as basic items you might consider, but you probably have some items sitting in a drawer that you saved from a long time ago that you couldn’t part with because of a special meaning. Perhaps it is something from a trip or retreat, or a flower you received at church or service that gives you peace, or a token that carries for you a message from Spirit.
Phase 7: Another aspect you may choose to incorporate into your altar are elementals, and by that I am referring to the use of the elements; Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. By using items that are representative of each of these elements, your altar will offer balance, and ground to the sacred place.
Phase 8: Lastly, and this should go without saying, separate the altar from your day to day items, like tossing your car keys on the altar as you walk by. Anything symbolic to you and your spirituality is appropriate.
Phase 9: After your altar has been constructed, it is time to concentrate it. You can do this through a particular ritual, or by meditating and focusing your spiritual energy on the altar. You may wish to incorporate the use of incense. Its power of scent can help set the intention, and aids in calling in the presence of Spirit. How you dedicate the altar is very personal. The only requirement is that the dedication must be significant to you.
Phase 10: Approach and leave your altar in a ritualistic and reverent manner each time you use it. You will discover that, over time, you may want to add or remove items from your altar. I usually do an annual cleaning, or whenever it feels “right.” I personally like it when it gets a little dusty looking, adding to the character. By doing this, you will maintain the energy of the altar, and strengthen its intention as a place set apart from other areas in your life. It also keeps you focused on your purpose while visiting and using the altar.
By creating an altar, you will learn to identify what is “sacred,” and will later be able to see sacredness around you at all times, not only when you are paying a visit to your altar. After all, the purpose of creating sacred space in your home or yard is to learn how to create and witness the sacred in your daily activities.