How to Make an Altar: An Easy Guide to Your Spiritual Space

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How to Make an Altar: An Easy Guide to Your Spiritual Space

Your altar is a personal—sacred space to gather your thoughts and energy. You may be thinking that the concept of an altar in your home is a bit odd, but chances are sacred spaces already exist in your home. A bookcase or shelf is an example of a sacred space—an informal altar of sorts. Your bookcase holds stories and writings you hold dear, photos of loved ones, and mementos that being happy memories (like the bottle of shells you have from the beach). Many spaces in your home celebrate your family. Your altar space celebrates you and creates a place to center your being and remind you to take time for yourself too.

Where to put Your Altar

My altar is private and discreet. I keep it on a shelf in my bedroom. Altars don’t have to be large—mine is quite small and just with a passing glance would look like no more than home decor. You can follow this example or make your altar in a common space. Anywhere in your home is completely acceptable. Follow your intuitive center, let it guide you to the perfect location. It should be in a place where you feel you can reflect on your items and feel at ease.
Many spaces in your home celebrate your family. Your altar space celebrates you...

The Elements and Your Altar

In your sacred space representing the elements around a spiritual center brings balance and symmetry.
These Elements are: Spirit (Center), Earth (North), Fire (South), Air (East), and Water (West)
These Elements can be represented in your altar in many ways and combinations. Combinations of Elements can save space if you don’t have much room and can be strikingly beautiful. Variation is encouraged; there are no set rules. Building an altar is very personal. Below are some suggestions for how to represent these Elements in your space and what they mean.


The center of your altar represents you. You are the spiritual center of your sacred space. Spirit is the Element of the Soul, the Divine, and mystery. Your central symbol can be anything that represents your Self. This can be something that represents your future goals or past achievements. Some suggestions for this symbol are cards from the Tarot. Using Major Arcana cards you identify with like The Empress (for motherhood) or ones that symbolize goals like The Hermit (mindfulness, introspection) can be central items. Objects like crystals can also be used. Clusters, obelisks, or pyramids. Crystals also have corresponding attributes: Rose Quartz (relationships) and Pryrite (prosperity) to name a few. There are hundreds of crystals! Choose the crystal you identify with the most.


The Empress card can be used as a Spirit item to represent you as a mother or as a wife


This is the Element of fertility, wealth, abundance, and strength. Altar symbols for Earth are a small bowl of soil, a house plant, a fresh bouquet of flowers or preserved flowers. Even coins and crystals can be used to represent the Earth in your altar. Place your Earth symbol above the center.
Crystals like this Pyrite can be used to represent both Earth and Spirit


The Element of passion, inspiration, creativity, and protection. Represent fire with a favorite candle or matches. Fire symbols can also be combined with air symbols (the trick for saving space). Smudge sticks and incense can stand in for both fire and air. I’ve have even seen salt and crystal lamps used as unique Earth/Fire symbols. This symbol item should be placed below your center.


This Is the Element of knowledge, intuition, renewal, and change. Typically air is represented by wands. Use a crystal or wooden wand, even a the tarot card knight of wands (spiritual guiding card) can stand in for this item. Other symbols for air are feathers, smoke, or small broom. Air is the Element of the East—place it right of your center.


The Element of healing, expression, peace, and compassion. It can be represented by anything from a glass of water, a seashell, or a bowl of salt. Some altars even use small table top water features; adding an element of soothing sounds to their altar. Water is the Element of the East and should be placed left of center.

Things to Keep in Mind

These are only suggestions. Your altar is uniquely yours and how you choose to represent your elements is ultimately up to you. Visit with your Altar every day even is it’s for a minute or a passing glance. It serves as a special reminder to center yourself and find balance; helping you to be spiritually prepared to take on obstacles in your path.

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