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  • Writer's pictureLillian T

Setting Up An Alter In Your Home : Tutorial

The definition of an alter is "a platform or table used as a center of worship", which is a very good explanation of what it is. I first heard of an alter from a friend's mom, while visiting her she mentioned she had one and used it to send good fortune to her real-estate clients. I had never heard of an alter before so I was intrigued so she showed me. Her alter was upstairs in her guest bedroom, on a small table. There was a buddha figurine, sage, candles, and lots of little rocks, shells, and other objects that were small. The small objects were all assigned to people, some were little figurines of animals, or person adjecent things, but like I said before some were rocks and shells. All of the figurines, objects, and candles sat on a cloth. She explained that a cloth was essential, and that all of the objects should be on the cloth. She was very adament about there being no "rules" when it came to making my own, it was more important to follow my intuition about what I felt should be there and what shouldn't. There is also no guide as to who or what you will worship on your alter, that is completely up to you. The objects can even be whatever you would like, some bigger than others if you wanted, as long as they fit on your cloth. Feathers, rocks, shells, flowers, and any sort of natural material is great, as well as little porcelin figurines or trinkets of any kind. To start me off she gave me a cloth which was an old placemat of hers, and also a round cloth with embroidery and told me to use which ever one felt right.

I started on mine as soon as I got home and I had everything I needed because I had been collecting things I think might be "useful" (which is a super smart idea and everyone should do). Then I had to decide who was going to be on my alter, which I kept pretty simple, my boyfriend, dad, a couple other family members, friends, my work place, my cats (dead or alive), and the two children I nanny for. I had a couple things that worked perfectly for most of these people and animals already. I have a rock with an indent on the top and a wooden cat figurine that is small enough to sit on top of the rock for my now passed cat Dave. A peice of random equipment Kevin brought home from work with a folded picture he drew of us underneath it for his. I also told my Dad about my alter and asked if there was something he wanted his figure to be, he gave me one of the hotwheel type cars he had on his kitchen table, which he later changed his mind about giving me because he missed it.... so his figurine is now a rock. Dennis's (the alive cat) figurine was perfect, an almost exactly replicated cat with orange and white markings sucking its paw, which is something Dennis does routinely when he is happy and comfy (like the kneading that most cats do). I had a shell and a feather that fit together for mine, although I recently upgraded to a little vase of sorts that was my Nana's. For the two kids I had little things that had ended up in my pockets after being with them for the day, for the little girl, some beads, and for the little boy a small toy spoon. Point being it can be anything you want!

I also really enjoyed what Dana had told me about what she says when she is at her alter, that was sot of what I was most nervous about fucking up. She told me what she says is, "Calling forth the highest and best". So you would light your sage, kind of brush the smoke on the figurine and say something like "Calling forth the highest and best for ______, they need some extra help with _______." Second part is not even that important, you can say whatever else you would like to say, sometimes calling forth the highest and best is enough.

I also light candles, I have two white candles which I light at the beginning and then blow out at the end after saying my thank you at the end. I think all that matters is that your heart is in it, and that's kind of the most important thing throughout the entire process of making it and using it, so let that guide you the rest of the way. Here are some pictures of mine.



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