Part four in the Magical Tools series
An altar in life, alters our life.
— H.H. Swami Tejomajananda
The value of having a personal altar cannot be overstated. No matter your spiritual path, your altar serves as an oasis in stressful times. They come in many shapes, sizes, and styles; I once had an altar that was just a tree stump in my backyard. Everyone uses theirs for something slightly different:
- altars can be used as a meditation or prayer place
- altars can serve as shrines
- store magical tools or dried herbs on your altar
- altars are an affirmation of our spiritual goals, ideals, hopes, and dreams
- some people practice magic at their altar
- altars are a container for spiritual and magical energies
Whatever you choose to do with yours, you are following a rich and ancient path by maintaining one. Your altar can be thought of as a manifestation of your soul, a representation of your relationship with the Divine. We each have a place in our souls for the Divine. But sometimes it is hard to access that quiet, still place. A physical altar, then, is something that acts as a gate, guiding us to enter communion with whatever energies we seek.
Therefore, an altar is just a collection of items and symbols we find uplifting and gratifying. Most people have one: a collection of mementos and photographs near one’s bed, for example. But magical altars are put together with intent and purpose, and this makes their energies even more potent.
Types of altars
A shrine is a variation that typically serves only one purpose: a place for a particular spirit. Offerings and symbols relevant to the spirit are good choices for a shrine. Not only for deities, shrines can be used to honor ancestors, the Elemental guardians, or even yourself!
Portable altars are a nifty variation that can be useful while travelling, when space is limited, or when you don’t want a housemate to know about your spiritual practices. Cute ones can be made from small candy tins or eyeglass holders.