The first time I created an altar in my home, I remember treating it similarly to how I imagine one might treat nuclear material. I scrubbed the table I was using to the bone because I read somewhere that dust holds negative energy. I went to the health food store and saw all the different colored candles, each representing a different chakra. I was so afraid of excluding a chakra, I bought every color they had. The same went for the incense. (thank you consumerism!) I started a “vision board” of all the things I wanted to transform in my life and placed it above the altar. I would kneel in front of the altar when I got home from work every day (for about a week), burning the candles and trying to meditate, the whole time I was wondering if this was, indeed, the best feng-shui corner in the house to place the altar and whether or not it was clean enough.
JEEZ! It makes my palms sweat just thinking about that experiment.
I look back on that time with great compassion for myself. What I realize now is that I did not create that altar out of an overflow of devotion. I created it because I wanted to find a way to heal things in my life that needed healing, but without having to do the scary stuff. Like healing my ovarian cyst without surgery. Or making all the people I hated at work less obnoxious without having to speak up. And while we’re at it, adding more sex to my relationship without having to get out of my pajama pants. And p.s., fixing my raging eating disorder. No wonder the poor altar had performance anxiety!
I have since learned that in the words of Annie Lennox, “Money Can’t Buy It.” You can ship salt from the Himalayas, fine incense from Tibet, the blood of a desert snake in Santa Fe and all the rest, but none of these things begin to compare with the power of collecting objects that mean something to you.
My goal in my home is to make it one big giant altar. I have little altars everywhere. To me, an altar is any arrangement of beauty that honors the sacred. It is something that reminds me that magic is real, that there is so much more to life that what we see with the naked eye. What works best for me is to create altars of gratitude and honoring. In contrast, I find that when I make an altar dedicated to a transformation I want to experience with images cut out of magazines and such, it makes me so fixed on the outcome that I start to obsess over it, excluding room for the transformation to actually happen.
Here are some examples of altars I have created in my home and what they mean to me. I would love to see yours too! You can post them here on the School of Charm and Cheek Facebook page. Or, if this post inspires you to see an altar where you did not see one before, as you will see in the photo at my Mother in-law’s house below, please share that too.
PS - Veronica Varlow is someone who taught me ALOT about finding the sacred and magic in the little things. She is teaching a class at the School of Charm and Cheek March 23rd which is almost sold out. I highly recommend this class if you would like to find beauty and magic in corners of your life that you would not have previously thought to look.
|This is my bedroom dressing table. Framing the mirror are necklaces , many of which were gifts, some which|
were handmade by a dear friend. On the dressing table are my favorite oils and lotions, handmade by my Mother.
|I bought this when I was in Peru, and it graces a shelf in my bathroom, honoring true, long lasting love.|
|This is an altar, isn't it?? ;)|
|A gratitude altar for a successful Seduction class with my favorite Rumi poem "dance when you are broken open", roses and a red candle from the classroom, and a variety of sacred objects surrounding the candle.|
|This is a stone from the fire pit after my first fire ceremony at the Qoya Costa Rica retreat, a piece of yarn from another ritual done in Costa Rica, a thank you charm that was a gift from a friend, and pink glitter to make everything shine.|
This is in the home of my Mother in-law. At first glance it is just an assembly of photos, but when looked at more closely it is an altar to family and love. There are two photos of my nieces/her grandchildren, with a photo of her parents in the middle, and an album from our wedding under that, all placed on the piano where my husband learned to play his famous song "Ho-Down" as a kid. So much sacredness on this altar!