How to Make Your Own Altar & Improve Your Spiritual Practice

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Everyone deserves their own space to think, pray, reflect and worship. And once you learn how to build an altar or a sacred space, everything else in your life begins to fall into place. If you are searching for a deeper meaning in your life, time at your altar will always bring you back to your center.

Altars have been a mainstay of channeling spiritual energy since the dawn of time. These altars were typically built in trees, springs, or rock formations that people had viewed as sacred places where spirits dwelt. Altars have been used in many religions from Christianity to Buddhism, but in recent years altars have become a cornerstone for spiritual babies who are not necessarily related to organized religion but wish to strengthen their spiritual practice. Altars are spiritual spaces used to encourage manifestation, spiritual guidance, and the giving of gifts to your ancestors and spirit guides alike.

Don’t have space in your room or home to display all your crystals, candles and tarot decks? Don’t worry! Altars are simply dedicated places that you intuitively believe would be best for storing your belongings and acting as a gathering place for your meditation, daily spiritual practice, prayers, or gifts to your guides. Whether that means adding a side table, picture frames with pictures of your gurus and manifestation pictures, candles and more *or* simply clearing out part of your nightstand, window sill or bookshelf. As long as you know the space your altar occupies is sacred and you use it regularly, it doesn’t matter how big your altar is or where you place it inside (or outside) of your home!

How to build an altar

Photo: Getty Images.

How to build your own altar

First, you should sit down with yourself and formulate an intention as to what you want your altar to mean to you or what it will be used for. Having a clear and intentional understanding of why you are creating your altar will take some of the overthinking out of the equation and instead make this process creative and fun. Whether your intention is to connect with your spirit guides, to create a space in your home to encourage a daily spiritual practice, or to empower your intuition, let us take a unique and individual approach to the process.

Next you want to choose a place for your altar. As previously mentioned, the size or placement of your altar means less about whether it works and more about listening to your inner voice. Take a mindful walk through your living space. Watch the sun come in, notice how different parts of your home make you feel, and make your decision. You can also place your altar outdoors if you have a private garden, balcony or private corner that is yours. If you plan to use your altar for prayer, meditation, or casting spells, you should choose a more secluded area. Otherwise, let this part of the journey be intuitive!

Finally, you get to the fun part: decorating and gifting! Like anywhere in your home, your altar is a place to let your unique self-expression shine. Some items you might like to put on your altar or to help you remember your spiritual journey:

  • Tarot or Oracle decks
  • crystals
  • candles
  • abalone shells
  • Dried rosebuds or dried flowers
  • Photos of their deceased loved ones, gurus or deities of their choice
  • Manifestation/Visual Board Images
  • Written manifestations, prayers, intentions or spells
  • Magic stones or natural knick-knacks (rocks, twigs, shells, leaves, four-leaf clovers, etc.)
  • incense
  • Sustainably sourced cleaning tools (like palo santo, sage, feathers)
  • diary
  • important books
  • Gifts for your guides (cigarettes, ground coffee, rice, coins, etc.) – this will be unique for you and your guides!
  • Figurines and statues representing your spiritual practice
  • Plant
  • Jewelry that has meaning or importance

You should never feel pressured into buying items for your altar or decorating your altar according to someone else’s wishes. Let your altar grow and change with you over time. It’s also important if your altar was built to protect it and keep that space as sacred as it was when you first designed it. You can protect your altar with salt (especially black salt), white and red candles, and protective crystals like selenite, obsidian, black onyx, and place some sort of protective covering like cloth on the surface of your altar.

Many spiritualists will tell you that symmetry is an important part of the spiritual hygiene of your altar. You may consider arranging your altar to encourage energy by starting in the center with your largest (or tallest) item and then arranging smaller items around it in a visually appealing way. This is also not required, but something that can help you feel connected and at peace as you come to your sacred sanctuary.

How to build an altar

Photo: Getty Images.

Tips for practicing at your altar

Your spiritual practice may involve meditation, prayer, intention setting, ritual work, or spell magic. The altar is meant to be the center of all your spiritual practices once it is built, encouraging you to engage in these practices on a regular basis and ultimately create a lifestyle where you prioritize your spiritual well-being and connection to yourself. If you think about the rituals you will practice at your altar, much like the construction, these will be customized for you.

Some rituals to include in your practice:

  • Full and New Moon Practices: Setting intentions around the new moon and burning lists of people/situations/habits you are willing to let go of around the full moon
  • Prayer: Whether it’s morning, noon, or night, prayer is a great practice to bring to your sanctuary
  • Gifts to Your Guides: Any of the gifts listed above or those related to your deceased loved ones, ancestors, or spirit guides
  • Meditation: You can do guided meditation, kundalini, crystal charging meditations and much more in your new sanctuary!
  • Peek: Light your candle and try fire peek, get a crystal ball and try your new piece.
  • Reading tarot or oracle cards
  • To sing
  • Manifestation Practice: Whether you have attached visual representations of your manifestations or simply close your eyes and visualize your dream life, allow your altar to amplify those manifestations and bring them to life
How to build an altar

Photo: Unsplash. Courtesy of Sarah Brown.

Let the practice of building and maintaining your altar be filled with devotion, joy and creativity. Try to remember that an altar helps you to strengthen your spiritual practice and that spiritual practice is both unique and deeply transformative. This practice does not need to be rushed or perfected, but challenges you to align with your own truth. Most importantly, your altar is most likely to enhance your life when you have a positive attitude toward it. Make the process of building your altar fun and let the magic begin!

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