Home Altars-Sonoma Style™

Home Altars-Sonoma Style™

If you were to ask people if they have altars in their homes or gardens, most of them, at least here in the United States, would automatically say no. The word “altar” makes many people feel uncomfortable.  Most people equate the term altar with religious or spiritual meaning. And with the exception of Roman Catholicism, most Western religions, Judaism, Islam, and many sects of Protestant Christianity, have equated religious imagery with idolatry.

And yet most of us have altars, as I think of them, in our homes. If you rephrase the question and ask: “Do you have a place, or several places, in your home where you put family photos and other mementos, like shells, a favorite rock, flowers, or well loved collections?” most people would answer yes.    An altar can simply be a display of meaningful things or a place where you come to reflect on the things you truly value,  that you set up in tribute to some cherished feeling.  The objects on an altar are often symbols of larger ideas. Even family photographs are not just about the people themselves but also about your feelings toward that family, community, love, and friendship.  It’s also a statement to those visiting your home as to what is important to you.  To me it is a display that is set up with intention and full consciousness.  Just a few example of altars or displays you could set up are:

  • Family
  • Fertility
  • Abundance
  • Nature
  • Seasonal
  • Health
  • Love
  • Beauty
  • Spiritual or Religious

I realize that in my home we have “altars” everywhere.  As a meditator I actually do have a meditation altar I visit every morning to start off my day.  I have a visualization board in my office which I would call a manifestation altar. We have family photos in our main hallway and on our living room bookshelves.  My husband, being a long time musician, has his collection of guitars lovingly displayed on the wall in his office and on stands around the house.  I have fresh herbs and nature goodies displayed on my kitchen window sill. We have statues in our garden surrounded by flowers and other offerings, and I am surrounded by pictures of my family and friends here in my office as I write this. I think it’s less important how you set your altar up, and more about how it makes you feel.  For me my “altars” are an expression of our life individually and together, the things we are grateful for and a place for me to pause and reflect.  All of which is important to me to help keep me balanced and with my eye on what is important in my life.

Do you have altars in your home?  What are they?  Share your ideas and thoughts here by leaving your comment below.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Check out these altars…

Comments

comments

24 Comments

  1. kathyn 11 years ago

    Beautiful!! I really liked the idea of using family photos on the stairway as a focal point.

  2. Coach Cassandra Rae 11 years ago

    Love your different perspective on altars. One that comes to mind for me is that I have a collection of cards that people have given me on my bedside table. Whenever I look at them I feel so loved. Plus, they are colorful and beautiful too.

  3. Darcie Newton 11 years ago

    Love the expanded approach to altars. We have a “wall of greats” in our office. This wall is covered with pictures of family, friends, great moments and great experiences. Never thought of it as an altar before but I think it fits your description nicely. I like the idea of creating altars to abundance and health.

  4. Jennifer Bourn 11 years ago

    True! When you called it an altar I did think, “Nope!” But when you use different terminology to describe it… Including the video with some examples was a great touch.

    I do have a space in my home where we have all sorts of family photos. I don’t know if I’d ever call them an altar though. For me it’s just a reminder of the love we have in our lives. I guess too I operate more in thinking about an entire room and not just a single spot. We focus on creating spaces that support our physical, mental, and emotional needs.

  5. Louise Edington 11 years ago

    I guess we do have altars in our home if you look at it that way. We have a little collection of photos of Australia to remind us of our lovely time living there, we have pictures of our girls in another spot, our main walls are now an altar to our mountain life here with things we’ve collected at yard sales and our powder room has framed pictures of the National Parks we have visited to reflect our love of travel. I’m also working on my vision board for the office. I never thought of any of this as altars but I am looking at them differently now. Thanks so much for putting a new spin on things Irene.

  6. First off, I Love your photo montage video!! So lovely and inspirational…
    I have a number of “alters” in my tiny abode. One area has meditation rocks, candles and vases for fresh flowers. Another small space, houses a peaceful stone gong/water feature and incense burner. And another spot has family pictures and, again, flowers.
    Each “alter”, regardless of size or shape, is covered by a tapestry of some sort. I’m always on the lookout for interesting materials to add texture and color. For example, under the gong waterfall, is a beautiful maroon, silk scarf, with gold beading and embroidery. In another spot, the furniture holding the “alter” is draped in a purple silk & velvet beaded fabric.
    The possibilities to create peaceful and multi-layered alters, are endless…

  7. nutrition evolution 11 years ago

    I have an altar, that I don’t really call an altar. It does have many stones, crystals, rocks, shells, etc that I have collected over the years. Every piece is from somewhere special. It is a nice reminder of my travels.

  8. Donna McCord 11 years ago

    I never really thought of an alter being anything but a religious place for worship, but I see how when we arrange items in our homes or offices that create a sense of peace or joy or warm memories, it could be seen as an altar. I love arranging favorite photos together, or beautiful flowers and pottery, or candles. Your video was beautiful! I am impressed by your creativity!

  9. I love altars and they really can be whatever brings us peace (or whatever we are looking for.) Even my husband has his ‘altar’ (although he’d never admit to such), with old pieces of tin cans, oxmusk fur, random sticks and rocks, which to someone on the outside, looks like garbage. But to my husband, it is remberences of his hiking travels to little known spots in Canada.

    When we had to downsize last year, pretty much everything was purged execpt the contents of my altars!

    Candace C. Davenport
    Our Little Books

  10. I forgot to add that I loved your video. The one altar that really resonated with me was the simple wood table against the white brick wall with stones and what looked like feathers and wood. Simply complex!

  11. Brandy Mychals 11 years ago

    Hmmm…does a pile of laundry count as an altar? I too, would answer no to the altar question, but my daughter seems to have some 🙂 At age 7 she has her little collections of precious items…my grandmother also had many “altars” throughout her house, although we called them tchotchkes.
    BTW, Candace’s comment cracks me up 🙂
    Thanks,
    Brandy Mychals
    Jewelry for Your Target Market

  12. theodora 11 years ago

    Irene,
    We have may Altars in our home dedicated to different aspect of life: Spirituality, Creativity, Family and Nature. I must confess I need to show some respect and spend some time dusting and cleaning those spaces as too much time has been spent on the comuter and at work these days! I love your Blog! I am going to share it 🙂

  13. nutrition evolution 11 years ago

    I love my altar filled with rocks, crystals, wood, sand, and other objects I find in my travels. It’s also a nice place for special trinkets from friends and family.

  14. amy donovan 11 years ago

    lovely post! and really nice photos in the slideshow, too.
    yes, we have lots of altars in our home. gatherings of little trinkets from special places we’ve visited, groupings of photos of people important to us, etc.

    my favorite ‘altar’ in our home is on one of the windowsills in the kitchen, where i spend much of my time. it’s frequently changing, + currently holds two champagne corks from special evenings, 2 great fortunes from fortune cookies, a dried rose from a bouquet, + a beautiful little cherry tomato plucked from the garden a few days ago. 🙂

  15. Jennifer Duchene 11 years ago

    Irene you do have a way of making one pause and reflect. Funny when I was reading your post about Altars I kept thinking about Altering – how having an Altar is about altering perception – connecting to the soul. I dont have an altar per se, I think of my home as a reflection of my family, my history and my life. Its a place that holds the shape of our past present future and the loves & passions in our lives.

  16. jimkottar 11 years ago

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment.
    http://www.NATURALSWIMMINGPOOLScentre.CO.uk
    I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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