Updated: Apr 22, 2022
When I was studying yoga in 2012, my teacher, Jeanie, often taught about the importance of "making your home an Ashram." An Ashram is a spiritual place that allows for sacred practices and routines to take place, and one which encourages spiritual growth and personal evolution.
Rather than seeing our homes as simply four walls with a roof and a ceiling, we can tend to our home as a sacred vessel. For example, we can bless the water that flows through our faucets. We can bring the magic of nature indoors by surrounding our spaces with plants, flowers and crystals. By routinely smudging our home, we can keep the energy clear. We can care for our home with clean, safe and non-toxic ingredients which helps to increase our homes vibration.
All of these actions help to increase the vitality of our homes, which in return, help us to stay happier, healthier and more vibrant.
Although your entire home can become a sacred space, I think it's important to have at least one special place in your home that is purely used for spiritual practices. You can use your sacred space for rituals, offerings, meditation, yoga, chanting, prayer, visualization, breath work, personal healing, journaling and more. Anything that you consider a spiritual practice can be done in front of your altar.
Having an altar or a dedicated space helps you to connect to higher energies much quicker and easier. From personal experience, I can say that when I step into the circle surrounding my altar, my ability to communicate with Spirit is almost instantaneous. My vibration is immediately raised and I drop into a strong connection with God. It is in this place where I feel most held and supported by Spirit. And, it is also here where I feel most embodied and aligned with my Higher Self.
The best part of having a sacred space, is that the more that you spend time in your special place cultivating the energy, the more the energy increases.
I've created a three-page checklist for you that contains over 108 altar items and ideas for your next sacred space. Click the link below to download your free copy.
Creating an altar: The Basics
I want to start by saying that your sacred place should be as unique and special as you are. In this article, I'm going to offer you a great deal of suggestions and ideas, but you should only utilize the ones that you absolutely love. At the end of the day, your sacred space should help you feel loved, supported and whole.
First, you'll want to determine a location for your sacred space. Do you have a small corner or nook somewhere in your home that is in a semi-private location? Do you have a spare bedroom or office space that could be upgraded? Do you have a small table next to your bed or couch that could easily be transformed into a special spot?
You may have to get creative here and do some rearranging of furniture and belongings to find the perfect spot. In my first home I had a spare bedroom that I was able to clear out and use as my yoga and meditation room. But, then when my firstborn took over that bedroom, I moved my altar into a quiet nook in the basement. Currently, my altar sits in a corner of our master bedroom. During warmer months, I take my sacred practices outside next to my favorite tree. My sacred space has moved and evolved just as I have.
You don't need a lot of room, but you do need to dedicate a place in your home where you can sit comfortably and quietly. And, if possible, you'll want to put your altar somewhere where there's not a lot of foot traffic or distractions.
For most people, their personal space will include a small side table or shelf to sit a few sacred objects on. The second thing you'll want is a comfortable place to sit. For most people, this will look like a meditation cushion, yoga bolster, pillow, supportive chair or bench. A place to hold sacred items and an item to rest on - these are really the only two big items that you need!
However, if your room is being used for other non-spiritual activities, I highly recommend that you clearly mark the boundaries of your sacred space with a rug or floor blanket. In this way, you're able to clearly distinguish where your sacred space starts and ends.
I have a lot of sacred items that I've acquired over the years, and they don't all fit on my side table. So, in order to keep them close to my sacred space and organized, I've added a small bookshelf next to my altar and a storage basket underneath my altar table.
I also want to add that I invested in a LifeBoard so that I could do yoga in front of my altar in our bedroom. The LifeBoard allows me to practice stable yoga on the carpet. And, it easily folds up and slides underneath our bed so that my husband isn't tripping all over my yoga mat everyday.
Props for Comfort
If you spend a lot of time at your altar, you'll want to include additional items to keep you in a comfortable, upright posture. I like to include small pillows or yoga blocks to support my knees and hips when I'm sitting for longer periods of time. I also like to include a warm blanket, prayer shawl and fuzzy socks to keep me warm.
You may wish to keep other yoga props, such as bolsters and straps nearby your sacred space. I always keep a Lavender scented eye pillow for Savasana and blindfold or eyeshade for visualizations close by.
Statues and drawings
Most people like to include some kind of figurine or artwork on or above their altar. If you are called to a particular religion, your altar may contain images of religious Deities, Gods, Goddesses, Ascended Masters, Saints, Sages or Angels. If you're not a religious type, you may opt for sacred symbols and geometry, sculptures of trees or a carving of your totem animal.
If you don't have these items or have a small budget, you can simply print out pictures off of your computer and place them on your altar. If you're the creative type, you can paint or create your own artwork for your sacred space.
Personally, I like to include a wide variety of artwork that incorporates all of my teachings in Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Shamanism. There's a little bit of everything on my altar, which I like, because it reminds me of all of the life lessons that make me unique.
Some people prefer natural, peaceful colors in their sacred space, while others love to liven it up with bright, bold colors. There's no wrong way to decorate your altar.
The easiest way to add color to your altar is by placing a cloth, scarf or placemat on top of your altar table. I've found many beautiful shawls and patterned linens in the discount sections of craft and clothing stores.
One of the things that I personally love to do is to change the colors of my altar to match the seasons. So, in the winter, I choose cooler colors such as blue, purple, white and silver. In the spring, I like to decorate with pastels and greens. For summer, I like warmer hues to represent the sun which includes red and gold. Finally, in the fall, I opt for the colors of the falling leaves, such as browns, yellows and oranges.
In the end, choose a color theme that you love and that makes you happy.
Many people like to have a representation of each of the four Elements on or near their altar. Here's some ideas that you can use to represent each of the Elements.
Air: Incense, feathers, wind chimes, a rattle, Angels, fairies, unicorns, birds and other flying creatures.
Fire: A candle, sage/smudge, an object to represent the Sun, dragons, phoenixes and salamanders.
Water: A chalice or goblet of water, Holy or blessed water, seashells, a picture of the ocean, sea animals, Mermaids and lotus flowers.
If you're like me, you might like to change your altar periodically to represent the changing seasons. I always love to recognize the cycles by including at least one or two seasonal items on my altar. Here's a few recommendations to get you started.
Winter Solstice: Holly or ivy, a small wreath, mistletoe, pine and fir essential oils, reindeer, antlers, winter nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts), strings of Holiday lights, bells, snowflakes, stars, icicles, and Christmas decorations.
Spring Equinox: Spring flowers (lilies, wildflowers, daffodils, tulips), new plant or seedlings, floral essential oils, lambs, rabbits and bunnies, chicks, eggs, Easter baskets, and Easter candy (chocolate eggs, jelly beans).
Summer Solstice: Sunflowers, daisies, citrus or mint essential oils, bees, butterflies, summer birds (eagles, hawks, swallows), summer fruit and vegetables, and symbols of the Sun.
Autumn Equinox: Walnut or oak tree leaves, wheat, grapes, pine cones, acorns, dried leaves, spicy essential oils (cinnamon, clove), birds of prey, snakes, dogs or wolves, owls, bats, apples, harvest vegetables, and tools of agriculture (scythes, sickles or baskets).
My teacher, Malidoma Somé, teaches about a fifth Element in the Dagara cosmological wheel. The Element of Mineral, which includes the stones and bones of the Earth, is believed to be the Element that stores all of the Earth's knowledge and memories.
Rocks and crystals carry a vast wealth of information and transformative energy. Most of the mineral Spirits that I've encountered love to contribute to our health and wellbeing. Stones are incredibly powerful and talented Beings, so it's no wonder that we are easily drawn to them.
You may be called to place gemstones around your sacred space, such as pretty geodes, crystal pyramids or clusters. Even if you're not into fancy crystals, you might like to include a special rock that you've collected from nature.
Additional Reading: Ten Crystals to Place In Your Home
Essential oils are an easy way to raise the vibration of your sacred space. Diffusing essential oils helps to elevate your mood and clear the air, so it makes perfect sense to have a diffuser close by. If you don't have a diffuser, you can apply a drop or two of your favorite essential oil into the palms of your hands and take several deep breaths before starting your practice.
You may also choose to anoint yourself with a high-vibing oil, such as Rose or Frankincense, before your sacred practices. To do this, I roll or dab a small amount of oil on my third eye and pulse points as well as over my heart center. If I'm not diffusing oils, I'll also add a small amount of oil right under my nose so that I can inhale the uplifting scent.
In addition, I will even offer a drop or two of essential oil on my altar to the loving and compassionate Spirits that I walk with. If you do this, be mindful that some essential oils could leave a stain.
Candles or Lights
The act of lighting a candle is a very sacred act. It is as if the moment you strike a match, it makes all of your compassionate and helpful Spirits want to pay attention to what you are doing. When I light a candle at my altar, it is my way of initiating sacred space and inviting a pure vibration into the circle.
When choosing candles for your sacred space, choose non-toxic candles made from beeswax, soy and other natural ingredients. In addition, if you choose scented candles, you'll want to avoid synthetic fragrances and perfumes. Toxic ingredients can lower the vibration of your space, so stick to high vibe ingredients for your altar.
I prefer to meditate in a dim room, but love to have a little bit of light right around my altar. I have a small string of battery operated lights wrapped around my shelves of sacred objects. It's amazing how a salt lamp or small lantern can make your space feel intimate and special.
You may wish to include pictures of family members, friends, pets or other animals that you have gratitude for. When you look at these pictures, they should automatically help to raise your vibration, since gratitude is one of the highest forms of energy that we can experience.
You can also include photos of your favorite places such as vacation spots or retreat centers. Some people also like to include pictures of influential teachers or gurus on their altars, as they like to draw upon their Gurus energy when they're meditating.
Additionally, you may be called to include a photo or artifact from your childhood on your altar. This is especially helpful if you're working to connect or heal your inner child. Seeing a daily picture of yourself as a happy, innocent child can be very effective.
Books or Journals
You may wish to keep spiritual or inspirational books nearby your altar. Some people like to read a daily prayer or affirmation each morning as part of their sacred rituals.
I think it's a good idea to keep a journal and pen close by as well, because you will often receive downloads of informations or insights when you're in sacred space and you'll want to be able to write things down before you forget.
Currently, I'm keeping a small moon journal on my altar. On each of the four main phases of the moon (new moon, first quarter, full moon, last quarter) I draw a tarot card and write about my intentions for the next phase of energy.
If you use a meditation timer, music or noise machine, you will want to include them near your altar. I personally use the Insight Timer app on my phone for both timing my sessions and for guided meditations. If you're easily distracted by outside noises, you might want to keep a pair of headphones near by.
I also keep a string of Mala beads on my altar to help me stay focused when chanting mantras.
Inspirational messages, mantras, vision boards or affirmations can be helpful and inspiring. They can create an atmosphere around our altar of self-love, self-respect, joy and intention.
Tarot and oracle cards, dowsing rods, runes, pendulums and scrying mirrors are all great tools for receiving Divine guidance from your helping Spirits and Higher Self. I always keep my divination tools close to my altar.
Singing bowls, tuning forks, drums, rattles, gongs, and meditation bells are all great instruments to include in your sacred space. Sound healing is a great self-care tool that includes many benefits such as healing, stress reduction, relaxation, energy clearing and more.
Personally, I like to keep things that remind me of my Ancestors near my altar, as this helps to infuse my sacred space with their powerful presence and lets them know that they are always welcome. I keep photographs of my deceased grandparents close by. I also have on of my grandmother's small trinket boxes which includes some of the jewelry she passed on to me.
There are so many beautiful tapestries and banners to choose from that would brighten your space. You can opt for art that includes sacred symbols, Gods and Goddesses, religious symbols, lotus flowers or mantras. I also love sacred spaces that include a dreamcatcher right above the altar.
Don't forget to download your three-page checklist that contains over 108 altar items and ideas for your next sacred space. Click the link below to download your free copy.