For as long as humans have walked this earth, I have no doubt they have created ceremonial spaces which included an altar. Many people in the modern world probably associate an altar as the front table in a Christian church. Others, still, consider an altar to be some sort of weird spooky tool used by bad-ass witches and others who wish to sacrifice something to a deity.
As a white witch (you know, the good sort), and celebrant, I see and use an altar as a sacred space: a focal point for my daily life, or for a specific ceremony or ritual. If I was officiating a ceremony for someone, there would be an altar involved. This defined space features items which would have meaning to the person, or items symbolic of the event they are honouring.
An altar may be used to honour your ancestors and ancestresses, or it may be as a way to focus on improving your health.
It may be because you’re pregnant and using it to visualise an ecstatic birth.
Your altar may be a general one for a beautiful life.
For three years after my father was killed in a car accident, I had an altar with his photo and items that were significant to him. Each time I passed this altar, I would bow my head and say ‘hello’ to my dad. I do believe it was a vital part of navigating the murky world of grief, and deeply healing. It allowed me to hold him close while at the same time letting him go.
An altar may be created in your garden as a way of honouring Mother Earth.
How about an altar in the kitchen? This can become a focus for divine energies to infuse your cooking with love, devotion and care.
My altars generally feature the four elements: earth, fire, water and air.
Earth can literally be dirt, or items gathered from nature such as crystals and gemstones. Or it may include items grown from the earth.
Fire is generally a candle, though it can be an incense stick or even a picture of fire.
Water can be contained in a vase with flowers, or perhaps a small bowl.
Air can be signified by a feather.
The beauty of an altar is that it is unique to the person who creates it, and is an expression of their inner vision. It can be as small as the tiniest shelf or nook, and as wide as the beach.