Do you have a home altar? Not necessarily the religious kind but something more in line with a personal altar?
Put simply, an altar is a group of treasures or visual reminders to reflect on things outside the mundane, and to shift our attention away from the ordinary and connect with something bigger. An altar helps us remember what's important and lets us pay homage.
Although some (Balinese and Hindu cultures) believe no household should be without one, I think it's safe to say personal or home altars aren't popular in the typical Western household. But maybe we erect altars without realizing it.
"The urge to create sacred spaces is so deep in the human psyche that, even when there is no formalized intent to make an altar, we often create them subconsciously," says Denise Linn, author of Altars: Bringing Scared Shrines into Your Everyday Life. Think of a child's bedroom shelf with ticket stubs and stuffed toys or a kitchen window sill with small stones and flowers from the garden.
There's no one right way to create a personal altar. It doesn't matter where or how big or small your altar is. It can be inside or outside, on a kitchen window sill or bedroom dresser, in a bathroom or in a hallway as you enter your home.
Here are some useful questions to help you to decide what to include on your altar:
What am I thankful for?
What gives me peace?
What inspires me?
What is magical?
What makes me feel alive?
The objects can be whimsical, funny, irreverent or very spiritual in nature. You might place three objects or twenty.
Altars aren't passive or stagnant. They can change with the seasons or celebrations. I tend to shift things regularly; gone are the flowers, droopy and fading, and in come some stones and shells from a Cape Cod beach walk.
However, altars do contain some constant or reoccurring objects: something from nature and something to engage the senses such as candles, incense, favourite colours, photos, cloth or art.