The act of deciding what to include in an altar and the physical act of assembling it can be very powerful and positive activities. Now that we’ve created and consecrated a simple elemental altar, let’s discuss the creation of more elaborated sacred spaces, and concentrate on making it a focus of energy.
In choosing appropriate objects and symbols, think about what’s most important to you. This may be goals related to your personal life, and may also include your visions for the planet and all of its inhabitants.
You can use an altar as a focal area for meditation and distant healing. You can place on it crystals which you’ve programmed for particular intentions. It can also be for displaying your favorite and most meaningful crystals and any other objects of power. The number of altars you have in your home is limited only by the number of unoccupied horizontal surfaces you have available!
Here are a few different methods for creating an altar, that focuses primarily on crystals and gemstones.
THE CHAKRA METHOD
One way I use is to arrange crystals by chakras. In this method I would begin with first chakra stones, followed by stones of each succeeding chakra, arranged in a circle. You can use from one to however many crystals you have available for this purpose.
I also place crystal animals, power stones, and pocket totems in appropriate locations. For me, appropriate relates to the meaning the particular animal may have for me. Seal for example means to me freedom in one’s body, so my crystal seal is grouped with the first chakra stones. I relate dolphin to communication (fifth chakra), bear to healing (fourth chakra), although it could as easily represent the sixth chakra (dreams, sleep, inner wisdom).
I pay special attention to what I place in the center of the altar. For the chakra arrangement I like to have a quartz cluster or clear quartz sphere, as I feel that this radiates out energy to all of the other stones. With the cluster or sphere in the center, I find that the arrangement seems to create a continuous flow or balancing of energy.
THE FOUR DIRECTIONS/ELEMENTS
Another arrangement with crystals with to work with the four directions/elements, as used in Celtic and Native American systems. In this arrangement, as we’ve discussed previously, North is Earth, East is Air, South is Fire, and West is Water.
Intuition and imagination help in assigning crystals to each element. Hematite is generally an Earth stone; Ruby is Fire; Aquamarine is a logical choice for Water, and Amethyst and Lapis Lazuli seem appropriate for Air.
Other stones call for more subtle and subjective interpretations. Rose Quartz, being related to the heart and to emotions, might belong in the Water area. But perhaps you may interpret the color pink as a soft or quiet Fire. Green stones are specially interesting in terms of placement. Green Calcite can be considered a Water stone, but being green, it can also be a Heart chakra placement, thus Water, while Malachite’s dark green with black might mean Earth to you.
I find that what works best when I am using this method of arrangement is to experiment, moving the less obviously related stones until it feels that they are in the right place. With this particular arrangement I particularly like to place the various feathers I find in the Air position, and non-precious stones, such as river stones, in the Earth area.
SPECIAL KINDS OF ALTARS
An altar may be devoted to a particular purpose, such as healing, manifestation of abundance, or love (as in relationships, family harmony, etc). In such cases you will probably choose to focus on crystals specifically related to these purposes.
Green stones are always powerful for healing, and special center pieces might be a statue of Kwan Yin, for instance, or the winged staff or caduceus – representing Isis, as Healer. Or a statue of the Winged Isis, my personal favorite, or even a Green Calcite or Aventurine sphere. Frogs and bears, both of which symbolize healing, are appropriate for this kind of altar as well.
For Abundance and Prosperity, which can also use the color green, as well as yellow, an appropriate center piece would be a large chunk of Pyrite cluster.
For love, I generally focus on the pink stones, and if improved communication is part of the state you wish to create, you might choose to add Aquamarine, Chrysocolla, Blue Lace Agate, Larimar, Turquoise, or Amazonite, all powerful communication stones. Helpful power animals include wolf and otter (they mate for life), and hummingbird, for the transcendent aspects of love.
Some people like to create Angel altars for angelic guidance, or Fairy altars for Fae magic. Angelite is the most obvious stone to use, as is Amethyst for its transitional quality (this stone is the color of twilight) and Rose Quartz to symbolize the unconditional love which angels have for us. An symbols of angels work well as a centerpiece.
For any of the above special altars I recommend the use of quartz points to direct and enhance the energy, as well as grounding stones, such as Hematite, Obsidian, Black Tourmaline, Tiger’s Eye, or Smoky Quartz, to ground the energy.
Many people like to either vary the elements of their altars, or have particular ones related to the seasons.
A winter altar might include pine cones, evergreen tree branches, and a focus on clear crystals such as quartz, Calcite, Danburite, and Selenite. Red and green accents often brighten up a winter altar. An owl can represent the inner wisdom associated with winter, while bear symbolizes hibernation and going within.
A spring altar would have focus on green. A vase containing spring flowers could make a meaningful centerpiece. Green stones and green candles help to celebrate the season of renewal. Anything that symbolizes healing and rebirth is appropriate for this season.
For summer, the golden stones nicely symbolize the sun. A nice contrast are blue stones, representing the sky and the sea.
An Autumn altar may include red, orange, and yellow stones. A cornucopia in which a crystal programmed for abundance is placed, can make a wonderful centerpiece.
USING YOUR INTUITION
This is the most challenging way to arrange the elements; it may also be the most rewarding. To use this method, choose the crystals, power animals, or stones, and any other objects you want to use to put your altar together.
Keep your particular intention strongly in mind. If, for example, you are creating an altar for the purpose of healing (yourself and others), you might want to imagine healing symbols as you arrange your crystals. You could visualize the new green grass of springtime, flowers, the trees in full leaf. If you have specific people in mind for healing, see them well and happy. You may also find it helpful to play relaxing classical music in the background as you go about your altar creating. Arrange and rearrange your crystals until you are happy with what you see and feel.
In sum, whichever way you choose to create you altar, know that it will grow in strength the more you feed it with energy and intent. It’ll become the focus of your spiritual growth, and as you infuse it with intention, it’ll grow in light. In the next post I will talk about creating and strengthening you astral temple in unison with your physical one. Until then, I send you my love and bright abundant Goddess blessings.