BEGINNING A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE (Series)
Creating an Altar - 2
Julie of Light Omega
An altar does not belong to any one religion or practice. An altar is a place to which one comes to honor the sacred by whatever name the sacred is perceived, and to deepen one's experience of the latter.
The purpose of an altar is to act as a window to the Divine – to open the channels of communication to the world of Spirit by virtue of the purity of its intention and the use to which it is put.
Altars can include objects that are perceived to be holy or sacred, however, all that is really needed is a space containing a shelf, table, or other surface that is clear of everything else, and a candle which can be lit during the time one sits before it. The candle may be thought of as a symbol of the light of God which is always present that one seeks to invoke through prayer, meditation, or attunement to the higher realms. Yet, the candle is more than this. It is also a direct descendant of the spiritual light that one seeks, for one manifestation is not separate from another. The flame of the physical candle partakes of the flame of the Eternal.
Since the purpose and use of an altar is holy, its purpose is diminished if the space in which it resides is used for other activities as well, or if things that do not carry a sacred vibration are placed on it or near it. In relation to spiritual attunement, the energy within and around things is singularly important. This is because the experiences that come from the realm of Spirit are often subtle and can be covered over or missed entirely if there are other distracting energies present, or if the altar is not kept in a pure state. Often, some thought needs to be given to this requirement, since in many homes space is limited, and it may not be possible at first to find a unique corner in which to create a sanctified space. In such instances, it may be possible to create a covered altar – one that is screened from view during the ordinary activities of the day, but that is taken out or opened up when one wants to sit in front of it. The privacy and deliberateness of such a gesture can accompany the prayer of a sincere heart which seeks an experience of the sacred, and one's relationship with such an altar can be preserved by this intention.
Our heartfelt relationship with an altar is the single most powerful feature which gives to it its ability to act as a conduit for energies of light and holiness, and which makes of it the center of a sacred space. This relationship is built out of several things:
- the regularity of a sitting practice which displays our commitment to reach out to the Divine,
- the heart's emotional involvement with what is taking place,
- the sense of importance given to the altar-time, and the willingness to let go of both past and future thoughts and activities.
Since the feelings and longings of our heart carry a vibration of their own, these feelings, when activated by prayer or within a meditative silence, give to the altar an aura which remains during the time in between sittings as well. This can be of great benefit to the rest of our living space which then moves into a higher vibration.
In relation to spiritual life, the presence of a physical altar in the home is not a necessity, but a very helpful support for maintaining a sacred consciousness and being able to connect with Spirit throughout the day. Such support enables an easier transition into the realm of the sacred by creating a bridge to the higher realms which can operate in two directions: in one direction one crosses over it into the realm of the holy; in the other direction, energy from the higher planes enters the physical realm to infuse all of life with its blessing..
As a window to the Divine, a sacred altar carries an energy of invitation that remains as a light and beacon that can be returned to over and over again. With each return the light becomes stronger, and the path of return is made easier.
Article Section - Purification
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