How to Create Your Personal Altar

How to Create Your Personal Altar

Who says that sacred spaces are only confined to churches? As a fun tool for personal development to help inspire you to be your very best self, we encourage you to have fun creating your own private, personal altar -- that nobody needs to see, so don't worry too much about how it looks -- purely for your own enjoyment.

Why exactly should you make a personal altar?

First of all, you should know that you don't need any religious affiliation whatsoever to make your own personal altar. 

The point of your personal altar is to create a special little "you place." It's a space that helps you focus on your dreams and what you want to create for your life, a place just for you that has nothing to do with pleasing anyone else except yourself. Here you can contemplate, question what you want next and just let go of all unnecessary tensions and burdens you have to carry every day when you're out working from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We're talking about making your kind of sacred space, so anything that means a lot to you is what belongs here.

How do you start making your personal altar?

Let's start by choosing your altar's location. Since we're talking about personal altars here, we find that you're more likely to feel free to express yourself if you know that you're creating a sacred space that nobody else except yourself will see. That's why many people prefer to set up their altars in a corner of the bedroom.

You could also create it in any other quiet corner in the house where you can easily close it off if you don't feel comfortable having a new guest to your home seeing it. You'll get more out of your altar experience if you put very precious, valuable things on it that hold a lot of meaning to you, so normally it's a good idea to keep it out of the reaches of small children running about your house or large dogs. 

People who have get-togethers like drum circles or who meditate with a group may find that having a small public altar in their activity room helps to give focus for the whole group. 

Select a shelf, a table or large footstool you don't use anymore for the altar's base. Another easy altar-making "hack" is to turn a box or crate upside down, place it on the floor and toss a nice cloth over it if you like, and then -- voila! You have the altar's foundation. 

If you want to put candles on it, which is a great way to start, just make sure that you have something fireproof underneath the base of the candles. For example, you can put a little ceramic tray under the candle's base to catch any excess wax as it drips down. Also, if you want to put one of those cute, miniature waterfalls on your altar, which adds a great touch of Feng Shui to your sacred space, do make sure you have a little tray underneath it to catch any fine mist from the waterfall so that it doesn't, you know, get the rest of your altar wet while you're trying to tap into your inner peace and contentment. Then before you know it, you'd spend more time cleaning up your altar than enjoying it, and that would be rather counterproductive. 

Now pick a theme for your altar

Now unleash your creativity when you pick your altar's theme. No matter what you choose, you'll need to decide on a central-focus design element for each one. Then let everything else you use complement it so that you don't have too many objects "fighting for attention" in front of you. 

You can tap into your inner shaman by choosing objects that represent each of nature's elements. The traditional four are earth, air, fire and water, but in Feng Shui, they consider five natural elements: earth, fire, metal, wood and water. 

If you love crystals, then your alter is the ideal place to arrange a crystal grid that amplifies the energy of your goals.

Supposing that you want to use your altar as a place to remember someone special who has passed on, then you would keep pictures of them or special keepsakes from them with seasonal flowers or candles here. This way, you can feel a little closer to their spirit and tell them whatever you like, which can be highly therapeutic. 

If you want to focus on a big goal for your life, then make that your altar's theme. For example, if you want to win the New York City Marathon one day, or at least be able to complete it without collapsing and having someone rush you to the hospital, then your personal altar could have photos of strong women who've won this race in years past. You could have a little notebook dedicated to tracking how far you run each day so that you can see your progress. You can add a map of where you're going to run on the marathon day on the altar and print some quotes that inspire you to never give up.

Supposing that you want to build a meditative space, then choose only a few items to keep it more zen-style. Sometimes just one big candle, one incense holder and one inspiring photo is enough to help your mind become one-pointed and just relax.

Don't forget that you can change your altar as often as you want to reflect the energy of the changing seasons, holidays, anniversaries or major milestones. Play with your designs. You can even keep a digital photo diary of your altars to remember what you did before and keep track of what you like best. 

Consider if you want to add any of these altar essentials

  1. A light source can bring your altar to life. 

    Traditionally, people go with candles, but don't limit yourself! Altars with running Christmas tree lights around your centerpiece or illuminated globes resembling the moon are also fun to work with.

    2. Keep a "purification aid" nearby.

    To keep the vibes of your altar as positive as possible, it makes a big difference when you clear the space before you sit down near it. We've previously discussed how to cleanse a space and lift your mood with homemade essential-oil mists, [insert link to page on clearing a space with essential oils], so it's a good idea to keep your bottle of freshener spray handy. You can also go the shamanic route by lighting a bundle of dried sage, a stick of Palo Santo wood or an incense stick and then blow out the flame, letting the smoke waft around to remove negative energy. Keep it on a ceramic plate to avoid those pesky burn marks on your altar cloth though. 

    3. Hack into the mood you want using the aromatherapy shortcut.

    Having an essential-oil diffuser on your altar is a secret trick that helps program your brain to switch into the state of mind you're seeking. Whether you want to feel relaxed, euphoric, joyful or clear-headed, there is an essential oil that can trigger each one of these mental states and many more.

    4. Add the most moving piece of inspirational imagery you can find.

    Photos are powerful, so use them! If you're a vision-board person, then set that board up right in the middle of your altar. Otherwise, pick an image of whatever you love most that makes you want to be a better person. 

    5. Keep your diary there. 

    Your altar sets the mood perfectly to create the ideal space for journaling. By making your altar a home for your diary, you reinforce the idea that your life and everything that happens to you is part of a sacred journey, so enjoy it to the fullest.



About the Author: Suzanne Leopold started Living Mavens in 2016 to share some of the products and techniques that help her focus inward and transform her life.  With over 15 years of exploring energy and manifesting modalities, she is passionate about creating a life she loves and sharing her discoveries with others.  To learn more on how to consciously create a life you love, go to