<Altar design I clung to for
many, many years.
For many of us our altars are places where we do rituals, work on spells, meditate, pray, honour the gods and create a sacred space. Our altars are unique to us and our path. They are a reflection of our spiritual selves and our interpretation of Deity.
< Newer altar, work in progress. More reflective of my current practice.
As we grow, our altars should grow right along with us. Sometimes we don’t change our altars as we change. We get attached to how our altars look aesthetically. While there is nothing wrong with this, updating your altar from time to time releases stagnant energy and allows you to open up to new things and new spiritual experiences.
I find updating my altar creates a pathway to my next phase of life and opens my mind to new possibilities. It took me a very long time to find the courage to change my altar. I don’t deal with change very well and prefer to have constants in my life. But I have finally accepted that nothing is constant and I must change to progress. Rebuilding my altar helps me to embrace the changes within myself and the world around me. We all must keep moving forward while honouring the past.
You can look at your altar every season to consider what serves you and what doesn’t. Many of us decorate our altars seasonally so as you’re decorating or taking down decorations, you can use this time to update.
Most of us clean our altars weekly but a deep clean is good to perform seasonally. You can start by removing all the items from your altar. Wash what you can in hot soapy water. I like to use Castile Soap for this because it mild and vegetable based. Then you can wash your altar cloth/s and iron them. I like to wash them by hand with a little mild laundry detergent and a drop or two of sage essential oil, or a punch of salt added to the soapy water. Now you can scrub down the altar itself. A smoke cleansing is appropriate at this time. You can use a sage bundle, a cleansing incense like sandalwood,, frankincense or a resin like dragon’s blood or white copal.
Next you can look at all of the items you removed from your altar. Do you have candles that represent deity or elements? Are your candles in good shape? Are they almost burned down? Are they scratched or yellowing or fading? If we are using candles to represent deity it makes sense that these candles should be in good condition. If they aren’t it’s time to find new ones. ones. If you are really attached to a candle, you can cleanse it and recharge it, dress it as you normally would.
As for disposing of your old ones, I recommend doing a candle burn-off rite for the old ones.
Alternatively, you can perform this ritual: cleanse, charge and prepare the new candles in your usual way. Place them on a table or space where you can safely burn the old ones( be sure it is ritually cleansed). Place the old candles in front of the new, prepared ones and light them. You can say a few words to declare the energy transfer from the old candles to the new ones such as:
Burning the old, makes way for the new.
I give thanks for the energy these candles have brought me.
My purpose here is to renew,
Just as the seasons have taught me.
As these old candles burn the energy leaps,
into these new candles on my altar I’ll keep.
As I will it, so shall it be.
Let them burn down completely. You can work on the rest of your altar in the meantime, sure in the knowledge that the energy transfer will occur.
Another way to make room for you new candles is to disempower the old ones. This can be done very simply while holding the candle in your hand you can focus on the spiritual energy leaving the candle and visualize the candle being a mundane object. You can state your intent out loud with words like: I de-consecrate (or disempower, whatever words you like) this candle, release all spiritual energy. With harm to none this candle is mundane once again. And so it is.
Now look at the other items you include on your altar. Statuary, stones, altar plates, herbs, cups and cauldrons etc. What items do you feel you absolutely could not part with. Cleanse and charge these objects and place them on the altar. You’re don’t need to know where they will go yet. The rest of the items that you did not feel as strongly about are probably items that you need to update to reflect the path you are on. You can store these items for future use or place them somewhere else in the home where the energies would work well.
This is a smaller variation of my main altar.
Now is the time to start looking for new items. Sometimes you will have an empty space on your altar for quite awhile while you wait for the new items to come into your life. Chances are though, you have things that you acquired because they “called out to you”. You may not have known what you would do with the item but now you have an opportunity to add it to your altar. Cleanse and charge each item as you normally would.
Placement is different for everyone. Some set up their altars based on the directions of the elements, others are looking for balance with their items. Set up your altar whichever way makes the most sense for you and your practice..
You may end up shuffling things around the first few weeks to get things just right. Also, now that you have opened yourself up to new things, new tools, crystals and other items may come into your life. Keep an open mind and things will fall into place.
In my opinion, it is an important consideration to design your altar and choose items that are easy to keep clean. Dust breeds negative and stagnant energy and we do not want this on our altars. Weekly dusting is important, so don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Working with our altars regularly keeps us connected and open. The more time you spend with your altar the more energy it retains making it a very powerful and sacred space.