How To Set Up An Alter At Home
Whether you're seeking a peaceful sanctuary, a place for meditation, or a connection to your spiritual practice, this guide provides the inspiration and guidance to curate a space that resonates with your soul. Transform your home into a haven of serenity and reflection with the art of setting up an altar.
By Anna Myers / Jan 21 2024
I once visited a very chic and cool friend of mine in California, and became enamoured with her home altar. A home altar is very chic and cool, actually, and should you want to feel immediately more at peace whenever you happen to glance in its direction, dedicating a corner of your house or room to a spiritual altar is a great way to ensure you protect and support your holistic practices as best as you can.
Read on to find out all about this powerful area of worship and how to include one in your home!
what is an alter + what can you use it for?
Traditionally, the term altar refers to a platform or otherwise elevated structure used for religious purposes such as sacrifice, prayer, or simple worship throughout thousands of years.
Primitive cultures used a simple stone to place worshippers’ gifts and offerings to the gods, and the ritual was passed down through Egyptian, Greek and Roman times, but can also be found in Japanese, Buddhist, Mayan and many more cultures and religions.
In non-religious contexts, an altar is considered a sacred place of spiritual focus and a physical reminder of someone’s dedication to their spiritual practices and power. It can really be used for anything you want, in whatever way best fits your needs, ss there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to address your own spirituality and devotion.
Some people might use an altar simply for lighting incense and centering themselves before a busy day out in the world, others may find it helps them meditate or visualise throughout their day. You can use it to do astrological or tarot rituals, to find stillness in a moment of prayer or gratitude, to honour the passing of loved ones, or simply have a spot in your home that incentivizes your spiritual or personal development.
mind + spirit
feng shui + home alters
The ancient Chinese art of Feng Shui (feng meaning wind, and shui meaning water) is the practice of using geomancy to arrange a space so that it is balanced and harmonious, in keeping with the belief that the energy of a room can affect the energy of those who inhabit it.
Feng Shui guidelines tell us that the best place for a home altar is one that’s tucked away from the rest of the room or the house, ideally a peaceful and private corner facing a window or a door, and that it should always be set against a solid wall or surface.
Staircases are also a no-go, as they risk diminishing the altar’s energy and have you walk all over it every time you go up or down the stairs. Oh, and it’s best not to place your altar in a bathroom or against a toilet wall, as that’s considered disrespectful towards the divinity or spiritual energy you are working with!
what to choose as an alter
You don’t need to overthink this, as really, an altar can be anything you want! A shelf, a mantlepiece, a corner, a small desk, a footstool, or a windowsill --or, well, if you’re lucky enough to have a spare room, it could be an entire meditation space! Whatever the spot and material of your choosing may be, all you need to make sure of is that it sparks joy when you pass by it or sit down next to it. A home altar should be a welcoming space, and it should feel inviting and recharging to be near your own.
what to put on your alter
Plants symbolise life, which makes them a great addition to your home altar. Crystals, spiritual imagery, candles, statues, ringing bells, and essential oils are all common objects to be found atop a personal altar, as are pictures of loved ones or inspiring ones such as those you’d use for a vision board. You can have a meditation bowl on hand, or any lucky trinkets you might feel an affinity for, and of course, any divination and inspirational books you come back to from time to time ––just make sure to keep it all neat and tidy, as a cluttered and dirty space won’t be much use.
an intention setting ceremony for your alter
As we’ve seen, you can use a home altar for a number of personal purposes, but whatever your chosen aim might be, it’s always good to set some clear intentions and make sure you’re approaching your altar practice with as much conscience and purpose as you can.
You can light some incense, burn some sage, or hold your favourite crystals as you centre yourself and call to mind whatever it is that you’re going to use your home altar for ––whether it be love, abundance, gratitude, luck, joy, health, or anything else, make sure to set your intentions as clearly and boldly as possible.
Perhaps you’d enjoy a cup of tea or matcha to ground yourself before your intention-setting ceremony, or you can repeat some affirmations or mantras. Start by journaling to release negative thoughts and feelings, and approach this beautiful moment of introspection and divine contemplation with as much peace and clarity as you can.
keep it fresh
You can renew your intentions as many times as you wish, and as often as you wish. You can change up the objects on your altar, or even its very placement, if you feel like its energy is not quite working in your favour. There are no set rules, as the only goal is to help you feel closer to your true self and to whatever divinity you may feel aligned to, so just try to set it up in connection to what works best for you. May your home altar deepen your spiritual path and fulfil what you need it to!