Creating an Altar for your meditation or devotional practice can help you connect to yourself and your spirituality more deeply. As late author and human experience / comparative mythology teacher Joseph Campbell said: "Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again." I personally have one larger altar that I meditate in front of daily as well as several smaller altars setup throughout my home. I do this to create a space of gratitude, inspiration and to remind me what is important -- that I am far greater than just this physical being and that there is so much more to life than the small everyday dramas. I work a lot with the deities, so having them around my house in little mini altars reminds me to pause and align with my higher state of consciousness. I change out the deities on my larger altar depending on what energy I am needing in my life. Right now I have Hanuman (to remind me of selfless service and how that is so important), Tara (to remind me to release fear + ignorance), Kali (for fearless love) Shiva (pure consciousness + stillness) and Durga (Shakti - the great mother). I keep sage at my altar to clear the space daily and also have a bell with Garuda on it that I ring each morning when I meditate. Garuda is said to relieve us of our fear of the unknown; and for me, Garuda is a reminder to look at the world and my life from a higher perspective. In India you find these bells at the temples. The sound of the bell is considered auspicious which welcomes divinity and dispels evil. The sound of the bell is said to disengage the mind from ongoing thoughts, thus making the mind more receptive.
Other items on my current altar include two malas - both from Varanasi; a deck of tarot cards, which I also change up (right now I have the Kaun Yin Deck from Alana Fairchild); a candle to bring in light; flowers, as an offering to the deitie; a photo of Varanasi, one of my favorite places. I have an image of Anandamaya Ma (joy and compassion). I also have a crystal pendulum and a few other crystals (rose quartz, amethyst and clear quartz).
If you are new to creating altars, here are some easy and basic steps to help you get started.
Step 1: Pick a Location for Your Altar This is an obvious first step, but an important one. You want to make sure you choose a space where you can meditate near your Altar on a regular basis without too much distraction. Places such as a quiet corner in your bedroom or living room, or even outside if you have a covered patio, could make great spots for your Altar! Really it is up to you! It can be anywhere that feels like a good spot for you to drop into your spiritual practice. Step 2: Cleanse + Bless the Space for Your Altar. After you've chosen your location, cleanse and bless the space. You may do so with a quiet prayer or intention, or even light some sage or palo santo and waft the smoke around the area to clear the energy. Step 3: Choose Items for Your Altar Now the fun part! It's time to choose each item for your Altar. This is a very personal practice, so really, you may choose whatever it is that speaks to you! The important part is to really focus on the "why" of each item. Choose each item with intentionality. If you're not sure what to choose, here are some ideas to spark inspiration. The Five Elements: If it calls to you, you may want to include an item that represents each of the five elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space. For example, fresh flowers in a jar could represent the earth and water elements while a lit candle could represent the fire, air, and space elements. The Five Senses: You may also consider adding items to your Altar that represent the five senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. This may include an essential oil you enjoy the smell of, a beautiful tapistry you love the sight of, or maybe some delicious fruit or dark chocolate that brings you joy. Pick a Theme: If you're currently working with a specific intention or goal, you may want to gather items that represent what it is you're calling into your life. Other Meaningful Items: Photos, sacred items, mala beads, feathers, incense, sound bowls or chimes, deities or statues of Goddesses and Gods, Tarot or Oracle Cards are other items you may want to adorn your Altar with. Get creative and have fun with it. When you look at your Altar you want to feel a sense of inspiration and inner peace. Step 4: Set up Your Altar. Now that you've gathered your items, it's time to place them in your chosen location. You can set it up temporarily and rebuild your Altar with different items as often as you'd like; or you could make this a more permanent fixture in your space, changing the items as it feels right. It's really all about what feels good for you. Step 5: Bless Your Altar and Yourself. Now that your Altar is set you may once again Bless the space and bless yourself as well with a quiet prayer or intention, or perhaps a Mantra you are working with. Even simply feeling gratitude in your body is a wonderful way to Bless your Altar and yourself. Your Altar is now ready to go for your meditation or devotional practice. Enjoy steeping yourself in the sacred space created just for you and come back to it often when you need a reminder of inner peace and inspiration. If you feel called to share photos of your Altar, I'd love to see them! Feel free to tag me on Instagram (@deidrenorman.com). Namaste!
Cover Photo By Unsplash