Creating an Altar

The root of the word altar is ‘high place’. Altars traditionally sit higher than the ground. This helps us to remain mindful of the spirit alive in every moment of our everyday lives. No matter how much you plan to meditate and stay connected to the spirit of compassion and self-love, life can pull you easily in different directions.  Altars are sacred places that you create within your everyday environment (your home or office) with the intention of bringing spirit into your everyday life and can bring immense depth into your daily spiritual practice and connection to the divine.

To create an altar choose a place in your home or on your desk at work that will be undisturbed, it may be a corner, or a place that previously held clutter. First clear this space completely.

With the empty space in front of you, close your eyes and say a silent prayer, asking that this space be infused with only the highest energy.  If you are home you may want to light a candle or clear the space by burning some sage. Here is the prayer I use for clearing my space:

Four Directions Space Clearing Prayer

To the winds of the South,

Great serpent, Wrap your coils of light around me,

Teach me to shed the past the way you shed your skin, To walk softly on the Earth.

Teach me the Beauty Way.

To the winds of the West,

Mother jaguar,

Protect my medicine space.

Teach me the way of peace, to live impeccably

and show me the way beyond death.

To the winds of the North,

Hummingbird, Grandmothers and Grandfathers,

Ancient Ones

Come and warm your hands by my fire,

Whisper to me in the wind,

As I honor all those that have come before me,

And all that have come after me.

To the winds of the East.

Great eagle, condor,

Come to me from the place of the rising Sun.

Keep me under your wing.

Show me the mountains I only dare to dream of.

Teach me to fly wing to wing with the Great Spirit.

Mother Earth.

I pray for the healing of all of your children.

The Stone Peace. The Plant People.

The four legged, the two-legged, the creepy crawlers.

The finned, the furred and the winged ones.

All our relations.

Father Sun, Grandmother Moon, to the Star nations.

Great Spirit, you who are known by a thousand names

and you who are the unnamable One.

Thank you for bringing me here.


Read the prayer three times silently before you begin your ritual.

After you have invoked and cleared your space, bring together several special, sacred items to place on your altar. These items can be sacred items from anywhere. I would also include high vibrational natural items such as crystals, flowers, a bowl of water, or candles.

Tend to your altar daily in order to honor your divine space properly. Make sure to freshen any water, place any crystals in the sunlight to clear them for at least 24 hours, refresh the altar with new candles and keep it free of dust and any other debris or clutter. Every time you walk into the room that the altar is in, say a short prayer of gratitude. It can be as simple as, “Thank you for bringing my attention to the divinity present at all times”.

Altar making is a sacred process and there is no right or wrong way to put them together. Here is a beautiful excerpt from one of my favorite books on altar-making. Although it only references women, I think it will help you also as a man connect to the purpose of the altar as a divine portal for healing:

“When a woman creates an altar, she re-collects the scattered parts of herself, reconnects with her inner beauty, and reflects on the essential feminine within her psyche. Her altar represents her essential self and becomes a visual metaphor for her woman-spirit. A woman’s altar is the bridge between her inner world and the world of form. It is where she is free to capture and display the shapes, the shades, and the substance of her invisible essence. Once she has created the altar, a woman depends on it to tell the story of her inner life, piece by piece. The altar provides a creative, spiritual, and aesthetic way to see the story of her inner life. It is a place of her own where she can take time to make sense of the insane pace of life, where she can find the space to simplify, where she can just sit and stare.
The altar becomes a place where a woman can commune with both the personal and the cosmic aspects of herself, where she can both dance with the Divine and imbue every aspect of her personal life with sacredness, where she can both reclaim her power and reveal her innate beauty.” 

Nancy Brady Cunningham