A home altar may evolve organically or it may be deliberately planned. For those of us who would like to plan our altar Denise Linn's lovely book Altars: Bringing Sacred Shrines into Your Everyday Life can be a big help.
The book includes beautiful photos of every imaginable type of home altar to get your creative juices flowing as well as offering a great list of possible altar themes. These are:
- Communicating with the Divine
- Healing family relationships
- Opening your life to love
- Creating health
- Honoring transitions
- Creating abundance
- Honoring ancestors
- Opening creative channels
- Commeration of achievement or loss
- Celbrating religion or culture
- Honoring the yearly cycle
- Remembering loved one
- Self integration
Because Linn is a Feng Shui practitioner her advice on planning includes solid guidance on altar placement and set up which I found interesting.
The book goes on to suggest various altar activities such as prayer, mantra, affirmation, contemplation, creative visualization and listening. For my new altar I decided to focus on contemplation and prayer.
I have two shrines in my home already. One in the living room and another on the dresser top in my bedroom. What I like about this third spot (set up on my grandma's old cedar chest and just below an east facing window) is that it isn't just to look at. I can also sit in front of it and say a prayer.
One warning about the book: It could make you a little altar crazy. While the new altar makes three, I am already thinking about a fourth - a family altar on the coffee table in the den. While I won't call it an altar, it will be a great place to celebrate tradition and the cycle of the year.