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Different Types of Spiritual and Ritual Altars

An altar serves as a focus for your spiritual practice -- whether you are trying to align yourself with a purpose, or commune with a saint or deity. Each altar is deeply personal, shaped by its purpose and the spiritual tradition of its creator. If you want to create an altar in your home, here are a few different types and methods for you to consider:

Basic Altar Components

Altars do not need to be expensive or fancy, but even basic ones have several things in common. They should be placed in a spot that is easily accessible, but will not be disturbed. They should also have enough space nearby for you to sit in prayer or meditation. Most types of altars use candles and incense burners, and many are covered with an appropriately colored altar cloth. In some magical systems, it is appropriate to include instruments like chimes, bells, or singing bowls that are used to clear the energy and signal the start of a ritual. The symbolism of each of these varies from tradition to tradition, and from purpose to purpose. To set up a very basic altar, all you will need is a space, and objects that symbolize what you want the altar to do.

Love Altars

Creating a love altar is an excellent way to align your spiritual practice with the energies that will bring love into your life. Pink is commonly associated with romantic love, so these altars frequently use pink candles, rose quartz stones (especially hearts), love incense, vases of fresh roses, and dishes of pink dried rose buds. Altars for passionate lust usually use a lot of red, so they may include red candles (like male or female gender candles), and sexually-charged symbols. Place these altars in bedrooms.

Prosperity Altars

Who does not want a little more abundance in their life? Prosperity altars are often used to draw in money, but the idea of "prosperity" can also apply to success and happiness. These altars are usually based on green and gold color symbolism. Long before green was ever the color of money, it was the color of growth and healthy crops. So, prosperity altars frequently have green or gold candles, coins or play money, prosperity incense, a green altar cloth, prosperity oil, and offering bowls. Offering bowls are important here -- much like the saying, "you have to spend money to make money," it is key to keep the energy of abundance in circulation. Making offerings opens you up for receiving more in return. Place these altars near the heart of the home.

Protection Altar

Maintaining a protection altar is a great way to help keep your home and family safe. These altars usually rely on red and black -- red is the color of passion, but also of strength and power, while black is excellent at absorbing negative energy sent your way. Many people also add symbols of powerful animals, warrior deities, weapons, or thorny plants like cacti. Choose candles specifically geared toward protecting you, like a Fiery Wall of Protection candle, protection oil, and negativity-absorbing or protective stones like smoky quartz, black tourmaline, or obsidian. Place these altars near the front door, where they can keep unwanted influences out.

Altars to Honor Saints and Deities

Sometimes, altars are dedicated to a specific spiritual entity. These spaces allow you to sit and communicate with them, strengthening your spiritual bond. Every saint or god has their own special colors and symbolism, and these must be taken into account when setting up an altar. The Orishas have their tools, soperas, and statues, as well as the usual altar supplies like candles and incense. Saint altars can have something as simple as an image on a prayer card, or as elaborate as a statue and many candles. However you choose to set up your altar, research the correct colors, objects, and other symbols before you do to ensure that it is done correctly.

An altar is a spiritual sanctuary, where you can go to pray and meditate on your goals. They help direct your energy to where it is needed most in your life, helping you to draw in the things you want. Whether you have set up a general altar for love, or an altar specifically to honor and commune with your patron saint or deity, investing your care and attention will help you reap its rewards.