Do you have a collection of crystals and you need a special place dedicated just to set your intentions? Or perhaps you’ve seen the gorgeous pictures online and on Pinterest of crystal altar shelves and want to know more about them—their purpose, how to set it up, ideas? We got you! Even if you only have one crystal in your collection, it could be the perfect next move for you on your crystal journey!
While mindful meditation can be practiced everywhere, it’s lovely having a place to go to when you want to hone in on your thoughts and goals. And a crystal meditation altar can help you do just that! All you need is a crystal, some of your favorite items, a shelf, and an intention.
Types of Spiritual Altars
The word “altar” means “high place” and stems from a very sacred and spiritual past. Altars have been around for centuries, specifically in religious ceremonies, churches, and places of holy worship.
In the Roman Catholocism, it’s traditionally at the front and center of the church, or place of worship, and is used to celebrate the eucharist. It is the main focus of the union.
Spiritual altars are also used in Buddhism. An altar would traditionally house a photo or small statue of Buddha perched upon it, a piece of scripture, and other relics to celebrate or honor Buddha’s life.
What is the Intention Altar?
Nowadays, altars are still used in religious ways. However, more and more spiritual altars pop up in traditional homes as a way to connect with your higher self, enter a higher realm, and to meditate. In essence, it is now known in a way surrounding this quote by Marianne Williamson: “That which is placed on the altar is altered.” Interested in making your own?
How to Set Up Your Altar
To create an altar at home, you’ll want a platform that’s raised off of the ground. This could be a small piece of furniture, a shelf, or a tabletop. The length and width of the space are not what’s important. What’s important is that wherever you choose to be your altar is a dedicated space there to serve its one purpose and nothing else. That’s to say that your altar shouldn’t be held on a bookshelf that also houses your books and knickknacks. Don’t use your altar on a shelf that you also use as a stand-up desk while in your home office. Your altar is your sacred space, only used for meditation and intention-setting from now on.
To help implement this, you can put a protective boundary around your space and make sure to always keep it clear of clutter. Then, energetically cleanse the space with sage so you can move onto the next step.
“Choose a word for your space. Serenity. Focus. Stillness. Love. Fluidity. It can be a plain or obscure word,” recommends Gaia, experts in yoga and meditation. “What does this word mean to you? Do not look up the definition. Create one.”
What Goes on the Altar
After you’ve cleansed and prepped, you can begin decorating! What follows below are all suggestions—very good suggestions, but suggestions nonetheless! Your altar should represent you and feel good to you.
Sacred items: Traditionally, this would mean scripture and religious statues. Nowadays, it can be anything absolutely sacred to you! For example, you could add a bracelet or photograph that you’ve had since childhood and you would never want to lose. It could be memorabilia from an old friend or family member. It could be an item you bought during your favorite vacation. If it makes you feel inspired, pleasant, and whole, then it will make a great addition.
Items from Nature: Another common addition is anything natural—flowers or petals, small plant life, essential oils, herbs. “Some traditions suggest that you represent the five elements on your altar as a way of harmonizing the nature around and within you,” says Chopra. “For example, live flowers in a vase represent the earth and water elements, and candles represent the fire, air, and space elements.”
Candles: Another classic altar addition, this one dates back to religious ceremonies. Candles offer calming scents and entrancing flames while also signaling to the energy around you that you are ready to meditate.
Crystals: There are a few crystals that work on a higher frequency which helps take you to a higher realm during meditation. However, you’ll mainly want to choose crystals based around your intention. Trust your gut and work with what you have! There are no right or wrong crystals to place on your altar. Although, it’s important to note that it’s a good idea to mix up your altar intention every two weeks or so. Let the change invite new energy into your meditation practice so you have fresh intuition and protection with you.
In what direction should you arrange the altar? You can intuitively arrange the crystals, but generally, you’ll see them arranged symmetrically. Symmetry reflects balanced and whole energy which will, in turn, keep you balanced and whole during your altar time. Imagine a mandala, with the left and right sides in beautiful harmony, and try to arrange your crystals in its image.
More Meditation Altar Ideas
Now that you’ve learned the basics of setting up your intention or meditation altar, you can add and play with the altar for some fun! Below are some ideas to create the perfect sacred space in your home.
Incense: Try earthy and calming scents such as sandalwood and frankincense.
Statues: If you practice Buddhism, a small Buddha statue could bring the right energy. Also, think about pagan or animal statues for your altar.
Candles: A meditation altar must-have, try pillar candles! For smaller spaces where a tall flame won’t work, try tealight.
Miscellaneous: An altar cloth, your journal, singing bowl, smudge sticks, crystal balls, tarot cards, essential oils.
Enjoy Your New Altar
Remember that nothing is set in stone! You can change up your altar at any time. And you should! Your goals and intentions will change, as they naturally do with personal growth. Let the altar reflect what is currently going on in your life. Use it to celebrate new beginnings, births, and achievements. Use it to honor the seasons, the phases of the moon, and special people in your life. You’ll see how it quickly becomes one of your favorite hang-out spots in your house!