How To Make a Home Altar That Honors Whatever Energetically Empowers You

Photo: Getty Images/PamWalker68
Though it's become a mainstay on certain spiritually inclined Pinterest boards, there's nothing new about an energetic altar. The concept of using altars in such a way is a component of a number of religions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism, and Judaism. Historically, altars are used as spiritual hubs where objects of worship rest, and you can practice whatever you believe within them. But in the context of home decor, an altar doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to anything religious or spiritual—instead, it can capture what you love, and what empowers you.

"An altar is just an intentional space where you gather tokens—magical or otherwise—that help you feel connected to your highest power." —Erica Feldmann, metaphysical shop owner

"An altar is just an intentional space where you gather tokens—magical or otherwise—that help you feel connected to your highest power," says Erica Feldmann, owner of metaphysical shop HausWitch and author of HausMagick: Transform Your Home with Witchcraft. "You may even already have a special collection of objects like family photos, flowers, and other mementos that you care for hanging out on your nightstand or mantle."

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Any of these spaces where you collect such goods can function as an altar. For example, you may have a corner of your room that’s a "Friendship Altar," filled with concert tickets, dried yellow roses, and photos of your bestie. You can have a "Me Altar" on your dresser, where old love letters, your go-to comfort novel, and a rose quartz wands live in harmony. And yes, it can also include symbolic trinkets of people you value. Essentially, a home altar is is a collage of items that charge, inspire, and center you.

As such, it’s beneficial to have a home altar in the same way it’s beneficial to have a Pinterest account; both allow you to cultivate a safe space filled with items that make you feel loved, motivated, and strong. And because it’s so DIY and personalized, there are really only a few concrete guidelines that are important to follow when it comes to making your own.

How to make a home altar in 3 easy steps

1. Set an intention for your altar

If you’re going to create a sacred space in your home, consider what’s sacred to you. What’s the purpose of setting up your home altar? What do you want to honor? What is this a celebration of? How do you want it to drive you? Answering these questions can bring you clarity on how to design your space, and can even extend to where your altar should be located.

"If your happy place is in the kitchen, you can build an altar around cooking magic to encourage culinary creativity,” Feldmann says. "If your bath is the best part of your day, you can make temporary altars on the edge of the tub with candles, crystals, and your favorite stuff for soaking."

2. Find a place for your altar

That leads us to our next point: location, location, location. If your home altar isn’t centered around a special spot in the home specifically, think of where it might just fit nicely. That record-less record stand in the living room or empty space on your nightstand are all spacial opportunities for holding some mystical aesthetics.

"Make sure your altar is in a space that feels natural to you—somewhere you want to spend time and can do so comfortably," says Feldmann.

3. Gather items that inspire and fuel you

Again, there are absolutely no rules regarding what can or should be included in your home altar. Whether it’s a useful tool for clearing out bad energy or photographs of those who are nearest and dearest to you, your mission is to compile a collection of items that resonate. If you want a few concrete examples of what may sit well on an altar, here’s what I recommend, based on the altar Feldmann helped me create.

What to put on your home altar

1. Incense 

best incense sticks

If you want an easy way to clear the air, a classic incense stick and burner gives off feel-good vibes and a smoky, sultry, soulful aroma.

Shop Now: Cedar Wood Essential Oil, $16

2. Candles

Any candle that speaks to you works well for the purposes of a home altar. The candle on my personal altar is topped off with mystical extras like crushed petals and crystals, and I recommend that route if you want something that channels a specific energy (like self-love or strength).

Shop Now: Love Anointed Ritual Spell Candles, $9

2. Crystals

And speaking of crystals, it's always energetically wise (and visually charming) to use them on an altar. Rose quartz, amethyst, and selenite are popular go-tos, but don't neglect stunners like fluorite, which is a gorgeous aquamarine stone that aims to help you stay focused on your personal path.

Shop Now: Inner Flow Fluorite Prism, $38

4. A tarot deck

If you practice a spiritual discipline, your altar is the place you'd keep your tools. I personally use my altar to house my classic Rider-Waite tarot deck, but I love this super saturated, holographic hot pink rebrand.

Shop Now: The Neo Rider Tarot Collection, $59

Again, these are just thought-starters for various items that includes items that have specifically worked for me. But, not everyone has the same taste, styles, or spiritual inclinations. With that in mind, remember that so long as you're true to your heart and select things joyfully and intentionally, you're bound to have a spot that's absolutely magical.

Originally published on November 9, 2015. Updated on March 15, 2021.

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