The word altar comes from the Latin altus, elevation, height. Probably the most common modern association of an altar comes from churches, but indeed an altar does not have to be related to a specific religion, although many times it is. It’s function? To elevate offerings, sacrifices and prayers to a deity.
In fact, the altar I am thinking about is something at times much simpler, more domestic, that can be at once a representation of your spirituality and or your religion, if you have it.
Altars are a very personal thing. For me, their ultimate function is also to elevate the elements of your daily life and whatever it is that you hold dear in your spirituality to something sacred.
And that is the real meaning of “sacrifice”: to make something sacred. In the end I think that whatever we hold sacred is a very personal thing too. In my altar, I offer things that are priceless to me, gifts of important people in my life, vegetation, incense, crystals, the image of a witch.
To me, seeing these objects is a wonderful, simple thing that I do to clear my soul and refresh it. I can say a prayer, or light some incense or a candle, but the mere act of contemplation of these mementos induces me to a state of peace and joy. Whenever I come home I see my altar, it is the last thing I see when I leave, so it is also a way of making all my space sacred.
At the centre of my altar, there is a drawing of a witch, that says: “I am my own luck”. I bought this piece because it is so empowering, it is a reminder that we build our own paths, and that we should be aware AND thankful for that. Next to it I have a box with moss and many Tachyon crystals and an eternal rose (it’s supposed to stay fresh for many years, it’s been two and it’s as good as new!) There is a little cat figure that my father gave me, a doll from Cuba, a doll that represents me and a mirror given to me by an old friend and a picture of myself and my sister when we travelled to Scotland a while back. There are a lot of natural elements there, as well. I’ve got some rocks, seashells, a wand fashioned from the branch of a tree, a live plant, a dry petals.
I am fortunate to live alone and to have this little space where I can have contact with divinity and my own Spirit, but there are may ways in which an altar can be set, especially if you have pesky pets or you cannot or don’t want to show your spirituality at home.
I have a mini travel altar inside a tin of mints, and it contains a tealight, a cone of incense some sage, the image of Hekate, some crystals, some consecrated oil and a little black plastic dog that represents Hekate too. I carry this in my purse and have it ready for whenever I need it. I don’t even have to light the incense to start feeling that something mystical is about to happen.
If even this is seems too cumbersome for you, you can create a mini collage. You can then place it in your wallet or purse, or use it as a bookmark, so that every time you look for something or if you want to continue reading, you will have a little reminder of your spiritual truths and meanings.
When I place something on my altar, I make it sacred. I state, to myself and the Universe, the importance of this object, of this image, of the memories it transports me to or the spiritual or mental states it elevates me to. My altar inspires me, it protects me, and it is the physical place where my magic resides.