Learn How To Make Your Own Spiritual Altar At Home

If you're interested in self-care and spirituality – or follow any such friends on social media – you've probably seen a growing interest in practices like oracle cards, intention setting, and even moon water. From moody, candle-lit snaps to colorful, flower-and-crystal-laden displays, people are sharing inspiring images of their home altars online. The hashtag #altar even has a mind-boggling view count of over 550 million on TikTok. But what exactly makes an altar, and what is it used for?

In many ways, altars are a way to provide focus. Our minds tend to build associations between locations, activities, and our own mindset or emotional responses — which is why some people suggest keeping your home office separate from relaxation areas. This sets mental boundaries for better work/life balance (via The Muse). And by creating an altar, you can use this phenomenon of mental association-building to your advantage. Think of an altar as your self-care safe space, whether you prefer to use it for spiritual or secular purposes. The visual cue of sitting down at your altar can help you achieve the right state of mind for prayer, reflection, or meditation (per Disorient).

"Having a daily practice with my altar gives me something to regularly lean into with full trust, even when life is in flux," ritual wellness teacher Aarona Leá Pichinson tells Cosmopolitan. "It reconnects me to my spirit, settles me into my body and heart, and restores my mind." Naturally, these are goals many of us aspire to. So if you want to invite mindfulness and self-care into your life, here's how to easily create an altar at home.

Choose a space for your altar

First things first, you'll need to choose a space to start putting your altar together. Ideally, this will be somewhere with relaxing energy and where you can have daily quiet and privacy, even if only for a few minutes at a time (via The Yoga Nomads). The most important thing is to choose a place that resonates with you. Whether this means a large tabletop or a tiny nook, an indoor photo gallery or an outdoor collection of trinkets, find a spot that just feels right.

"Make sure your altar is in a space that feels natural to you—somewhere you want to spend time and can do so comfortably," metaphysical author and entrepreneur Erica Feldmann recommends to Well+Good. She also points out that you can get creative and tailor this to your lifestyle and goals. "If your happy place is in the kitchen, you can build an altar around cooking magic to encourage culinary creativity. If your bath is the best part of your day, you can make temporary altars on the edge of the tub with candles, crystals, and your favorite stuff for soaking."

Light candles and incense

Many altars feature candles. Not only is their warmth soothing to look at, but the flickering flame of a candle can serve as an excellent meditation focus. Those with an interest in alternative spiritualities or candle magic may also choose to incorporate specific candle colors based on their attributes. Protective or cleansing candles are a popular choice for altars, which may be why white votives and tea lights are often used. "They're great for cleansing your house, so after you cleanse the house, you can light new white candles to elevate and keep that cleansed energy," color therapist Walaa AlMuhaiteeb tells MindBodyGreen.

You can also use other colored candles on your spiritual altar, depending on your intention or goal. As Horoscope.com outlines, red can be used for passion, orange for creativity, purple for intuition, blue for harmony, green for prosperity and luck, and more.

In addition to candles, some people like to use incense or smudging herbs to cleanse the space around their altar. Civana Wellness Resort & Spa recommends that burning herbs like sage, palo santo, or desert rose can be used to help dispel negative energy and encourage clarity in your prayer, meditation, or other spiritual practice.

Incorporate crystals

Crystals have been having a moment in recent years, and if you already have a collection of stones handy, they're well suited for use in a spiritual altar. Some crystal enthusiasts believe that they can be used to channel energy or bring meaningful vibrations to your sacred space, so strategically selecting stones for your altar can be a way to enhance your spiritual goals. For instance, Tiny Rituals suggests you may want to protect your home and altar with minerals like black tourmaline, hematite, selenite, and smoky quartz. You can also use crystals for manifestation, such as adding rose quartz to your altar for love and joy or choosing citrine for confidence, abundance, and positivity.

Crystals can be added to your spiritual altar in whatever way looks right to you. But if you're interested in boosting their frequency, some spiritualists suggest trying out a crystal grid. Crystal grids are essentially geometric arrangements that align your chosen stones and power up their electromagnetic field (via Almanac Supply Co.). The crystal experts at Sage Crystals suggest choosing a larger, intention-focused center stone to act as an anchor or antenna for the grid, then surrounding it with crystals that modify or amplify that intention.

But you don't have to be any certain flavor of spiritualist to use crystals and minerals on your altar. Even if you're not a proponent of crystal healing or energy work, crystals can still bring beautiful colors and natural shapes to your altar display.

Decorate with natural elements

As The Alchemist's Kitchen recounts, your altar can be a perfect opportunity to reconnect with the natural world and keep yourself in tune with the changing seasons. Toward this goal, consider adding natural and seasonal accents to your altar's collection. Items like flowers, branches, feathers, and stones can be incorporated year-round, while spring might bring the addition of eggs or autumn might feature acorns and gourds.

Your altar can also be reflective of the area where you live or a landscape that speaks strongly to you (per Enchanted Living Magazine). For example, sand and seashells can be used to represent your connection to the ocean, or pine needles and leaves can evoke the majesty of a forest.

Add meaningful personal items

Finally, individualize your altar with personal items that hold meaning to you, whether that involves writing out spells and intentions, placing down an oracle card related to the focus of your meditation, or adding a journal of your thoughts and dreams. If you're religious, you can also incorporate icons or statues of your chosen deity (via Wanderlust).

Ancestor worship is a core to some spiritual practices, so it's not uncommon to include photos on an altar. But as Chopra notes, you can also include pictures of living family members, mentors, or other inspirational figures – whoever has helped you on your journey thus far. Having these images can help you feel grounded and focused going forward.

Conscious Items suggests changing the focusing thought or intention of your altar every few weeks to invite in new energy and avoid stagnation. So if a personal item no longer seems to fit in, it's fine to swap it out. In the end, creating your spiritual altar is about intuition, so trust your instincts to build a space that empowers calm, clarity, and meaning.