The meaningful creation of an altar space physically represents, symbolically honors, whatever energy the person crafting the altar is choosing to engage with. The altar could be for honoring a loved one who is suffering or has passed on, for a personal goal such as ethical and sustainable living, or for a milestone like graduating college; the objects, colors, and designs all come together to ground a particular focus.
There is the old saying “Out of sight, out of mind”, and altars can provide just such a focus for the mind by keeping the symbols in sight. Deciding to create an altar and how to go about it can be a meditation and clarification in itself. I know for myself that the journey leading to the creation of the various Autumn and Samhain altar spaces was fraught with meaning and soul searching I never would have imagined to be likely to occur from such a ‘simple’ exercise.
Below are some pictures of the altars I have done or helped create (apologies for some of the poor quality pictures, I blame my phone and bad lighting 😛 ).
Whatever the reason for making an altar, the creative and meaningful process holds much personal value to people across all ages and cultures. Even as a young child, on the first of every month I would excitedly construct what I then called “time tables” somewhere in the yard to welcome the new month. Faiths throughout history and the world over have crafted altars for one purpose or another. The destruction of such altars in disputes of politics or religion have appeared as black marks on history even though the objects in other contexts hold little beyond their material value. The meaning you choose to give to an altar you visit or create is entirely your own.
I encourage you to submit a comment with links to pictures of altars you have visited or created!