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Writing by Lula Bornhak // Photograph by Sofia Higgins // For me, creating an altar is one of the ultimate practices of self-love. The altar that I am talking about has nothing to do with religion. It is simply a place to connect with your inner light again and celebrate your beautiful soul!

Writing by Lula Bornhak // Photograph by Sofia Higgins

“Your sacred space is where you can find yourself again and again.“

Joseph Campbell


When I was little, I loved creating spaces where I would place flowers, twigs, and stones that I found in the forest or other items that seemed magical to me. As I grew older, I kept that love for beautiful spaces, dedicating a corner of my room to all of my most precious possessions. It is only now that I realize that I have been creating altars for my whole life.

To be honest, an altar is not something very practical. Some might even say that it is a waste of space. But for me, creating an altar is one of the ultimate practices of self-love. The altar that I am talking about has nothing to do with religion. It is simply a place to connect with your inner light and celebrate your beautiful soul! It is a space that is dedicated just to yourself, to make you feel at home wherever you are and to forget all the worries and stressful thoughts that are occupying your mind.

Also, I want to add that there are so many ways to create your own altar, so keep in mind that there is no right or wrong. Because altars are completely unique to the individual creating them, the only thing that matters is that the altar means something to you. That‘s what makes it so powerful. That being said, here are some guidelines that might help you to create your own beautiful sacred space.

  1. Find a location.

First of all, decide if your altar should be private and hidden or open for everybody to see. You can place it in a really prominent spot so every person that walks in is immediately surrounded by its positive energy. Or you could place it in a shoebox to hide it from curious stares. If you travel a lot, you could create your own altar in a jar and take it with you wherever you are. The possibilities are endless. It is really important to have a space where you feel completely free to create an altar that you like and don’t have to worry about what other people might think of it. Make it a place to feel at home; a playground for your soul.

  1. Clear the space.

Clear the dedicated altar space by burning some sage or simply light a white candle to purify the place. The nice thing about clearing the space is that you can make it into your own ceremony. Make sure that you have some time for yourself, play relaxing music, and try to leave all the stress and worries that were bothering you the whole day behind. You could say an affirmation or meditate to really calm down and bring your attention to the space. By that you charge the dedicated place with your own positive energy.

  1. Gather things you love.

It doesn‘t matter what items you choose to put on your altar as long as you feel connected to them. Your items should bring a smile to your face every time you lay your eyes on them or generate a feeling of gratitude. Some people choose a theme for their altar, such as elements, confidence, love, protection, etc., and collect items supporting that theme.

Items for your altar can be:

  • Printed literature that holds special meaning to you, like a poem, a song lyric, or an inspirational book.
  • Journals to infuse the altar with your personal power.
  • Plants or wood to connect with the earth energy.
  • A glass of fresh water to keep the energy of the altar flowing and active.
  • A bowl of salt for protection and purification. It is also believed to draw its power from the moon.
  • Items that hold a special meaning to you, like a lucky charm.
  • A candle will give you the warm energy needed for a positive altar, and can help you focus by watching its flame. There are even specific meanings attached to the different candle colors:

Blue: protection and healing

Gold: wealth and success

Green: luck, curing illness, growth

Red: love, romance, prosperity

White: new beginnings, creativity

  1. Arrange your items.

There are so many ways to arrange the objects on your altar. You could decorate your altar according to some Native American traditions by arranging the objects to the four directions:

North: Represents earth. Items placed here symbolize earth energies such as leaves, twigs, stones, salt, and crystals.

East: Represents air. Items to be placed here include feathers, petals, or a heatproof dish for burning incense.

South: Represents fire. Here place items such as ash, brick, pottery, and candles.

West: Represents water. This is the place for collected rainwater in a bowl or seashells.

Another way to arrange your altar is by choosing a central focus item, such as a photo of a loved one or an inspiring person, a candle, or a crystal, and decorate the other objects around it. When placing the objects how it feels the most natural to you, you are automatically decorating the altar intuitively, making it a space filled with your own energy. Create a space that looks beautiful to you and makes you feel happy and loved.

  1. Now what?!

The energy of your altar will get stronger in time and is powered by your attention to it. After a stressful day, I often just sit in front of my altar and let its calming energy wash all over me. You could also write goals, worries, or affirmations on a piece of paper, place them on your altar, and let the energy absorb for about a week. After some time, burn the piece of paper in a heatproof dish on your altar. That way the universe will take care of it.

Keep in mind that your altar doesn’t have to be perfect when you start. Sometimes a candle and a crystal can be all you need to begin with. Enjoy the process of adding or replacing objects and changing you altar over time. This is actually good feng shui, since it keeps the energy of the altar flowing and fresh. This is your time to start connecting with yourself, giving thanks to your body and your environment and simply enjoying the moment. Just have fun with it!

Lula Bornhak

Lula is 19 years old and from Berlin. Her interests change almost weekly, which she finds kind of scary but is now slowly learning to appreciate. Right now she is obsessed with food, outer space and beauty in all its different forms. Other than that, she is fascinated about educating herself on basically everything.

Sofia Higgins

Sofia Higgins is a photographer from Puerto Rico. Take a look at her Flickr and Facebook page.

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