Altar, like many words today, carries a vast array of meaning and connotation. Some altars are designed to impart physical beauty and speak to the heart of the person and their aspirations in life. Their intention is to create a sense of inspiration and uplifting of the soul. These altars often include collections of belongings special to a person, perhaps photographs, and can be quite complex. Sometimes these altars are even in the public parts of a home creating a sense of community and shared warmth.
I love altars of this nature and have used them for years in my own life. However, I want to focus this conversation on altars designed to give a tangible landing place for spiritual forces.
Altars designed exclusively for landing spiritual forces are of a different magnitude–an offering in and of themselves towards that which is infinite. These altars are dedicated to the divine; they create a link between the cosmos and the part of you that is transcendent. They are intended to talk to the part of you that yearns for the numinous, that seeks states of exultation. Devotion is evoked at such a place.
These are places of stillness and sacredness. Places of prayer, meditation and aspiration. These are the places we go to connect with the parts of ourselves that are eternal and beyond everyday comprehension. They remind us of the parts of ourselves which are indeed holy.
These altars tend towards the simple. A candle, perhaps a picture or object that represents that which is transcendent – a spiritual teacher or presence. My own such space is a low table with white cloth, candle and a couple of objects that represent spiritual presences which are dear to me, and which sustain me as a seeker.
This is a place where I offer myself to the divine. A place where I seek inspiration and sustainment for the part of me that pursues the sublime and aspires to make ever more present the part of me capable of rapture.