Altars: keeping the connection clear

I have been cleaning my altars today and was contemplating the difference, spiritually, between a freshly dusted, cleansed altar and a stagnant, or otherwise dusty  or messy altar.

An analogy occurred to me - an altar could be compared to a telephone line. Whether it's an altar space to honour and petition your ancestor spirits, the saints or any other spirit, the altar functions like a communications device. The dustier, messier or more stagnant the altar the more interference one experiences on the line. It could get so bad that you can't connect with that spirit at all, or lines get crossed and you get snippets of distorted noise from other spirits you might not want to hear from. 

More than that, cleansing your altar, dusting the icons replenishing the water, rearranging things just the way you know your spirits like them become an expression of your devotion and your connection to the spirits. You not only purify and rejuvenate the space, you subtly reaffirm your connection and intention to strengthen bonds with your spiritual world. You keep the line pure, open and free from interference.

After I'm done straightening things out, dusting, and wiping things down with bit of florida water I put some fresh stuff on the altar (water, flowers, offerings) and happily discover that there is a new buzz, a friendly hum - almost like that altar is idling, ready for more spiritual work.


  1. Hell yeah, man. The altar is the physical manifestation of your spiritual life. Mine's all packed up until I get back into my house, and that's a pretty accurate description of my spiritual life.

    The neat thing about having an altar space set up is that it's like a materialization device. If you want something in your life, you can put its symbol on your altar, and it starts popping up throughout your life. A note that says, "All my bills are paid" placed in the center of your altar can cover a lot of bills.

    The downside is that you've got to keep it clear, as you say. My kids had a habit of putting pictures on my altar that they drew because it was in my office, and a convenient place to leave things where I would see them later. While their primitive drawings of cats and dogs are adorable, there is a certain resemblance to roadkill that led me to ban them from placing stuff on my altar. Scissors and pliers, bags of incense, the little aluminum cups from burned-out tea lites accumulate there too, and as the altar got cluttered, so too did my life.

  2. How funny, I just cleaned my altar following the spring equinox, and it seems that many other people are doing that as well. Once I had cleaned it, replaced items and re-arranged it, I just got this immense feeling of gratitude, and as I followed it up with my daily practice, it was so wonderful and intense. I totally agree with you.