The only thing an altar should be is a special place to you, other than that it can be anything and be anywhere e.g. in the house, in a special room, on a shelf, in a window, on the floor, or even outside in nature. It can change whenever it needs to change such as over time as you change, with the seasons or with each turn of the wheel of the year. It can be a place where you go to connect with something e.g. spirits, the divine, with your ancestors, or with yourself. It can be a place where you worship or simply a place you like to visit.
The photo on here is of my own altar. It is basically the top shelf of a bookcase in my healing room. Despite having a Cambodian Buddha on it, my altar is not somewhere that I go to worship for I do not worship gods, goddesses or any spirit come to that. My altar is a place where I keep some of the things that are important to me and this includes some of the tools whose spirits I work with. All of the items there are present because their energy makes a positive contribution in some way.
The Buddha is on my altar simply because I like its energy and the peace it brings me when I look at it. The Buddhist prayer wheel is from Nepal which brings back memories, also I love the idea that inside it is the Buddhist peace prayer and that every spin of the wheel sends out the prayer 10,000 times to the world. Tucked in between the prayer wheel and the Buddha is a Reiki crystal which was a present from one of my students. The shape and energy of the crystal remind me of the purity of the energy of Reiki and the gift of being able to work with it and pass it on to others. The key on the blue ribbon was also a present. On it is inscribed that it is a journeying key and this reflects another very important area of my life, that of shamanism.
At the back are two fetishes from the witch’s market in Peru, a sun which, along with the small candle, represents the element Fire and the Condor which came from a witch who told me it was for a traveller. It also balances the energy of Eagle which is here in the small bundle of eagle feathers at the front right. I have other feathers there too, the large feather is from Condor and was another gift. Its spirit works with me in many ways including realigning, clearing and smoothing the energy field. There are other feathers here but the remaining feather that can be clearly seen is Owl. This was a gift at a time of initiation and its spirit now works with me usually at times of initiation of others. Feathers also represent the element Air whereas the various stones that can be seen on my altar represent the energy of Earth. I know how important it is for me to have balance in the energy of elements so also on my altar is, but perhaps not visible here, a shell which represents the element Water.
There are other items on my altar but I am sure that by now you get the idea. Sometimes I add to my altar, sometimes I take away. The cloth and colour of cloth changes often but there is no regular pattern to the changes. Some items are always there, some shift in and out depending on what I need. I always check the energy of the placing of things on my altar and while it may not always look amazing, the energy of it is always perfect for me and the space it is in.
One thing I hadn’t realised until I was writing this is how many of the items on my altar have been gifted to me. This does not have to be so but is how it is for me, at the moment anyway.
There are no rules about altars, no right or wrong, so creating an altar is always a very personal activity and reflects the person who has created it, their energy, their beliefs and what is important to them.