We thought this would be a perfect time of the year to write a post about outside altars and shrines.
Before we discuss a few ways to set up outdoor sacred spaces, lets take a look at the basics of what they are.
There is a slight deference in what an altar is and what a shrine is. A shrine is a sacred place, which can be dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, or similar figure of respect, where they are venerated or worshiped. Shrines often contain statues, relics, or other special objects associated with whom the shrine is for. Shrines are found in many of the world’s religions, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and the Pagan traditions. They can be found in almost every setting, such as churches, temples, cemeteries, or in and outside of the home. It is a sacred place that is dedicated to its resident. Prayers, blessings, and respect are the main focus for shrines, no other work is usually done at a shrine. If offerings are made or any other type of spiritual work is done, then it would be considered an altar.
An altar is any structure upon which offerings are made, ceremonies are held and is usually consecrated for spiritual purposes. Just like shrines they can contain statues, relics, or anything related to its specific workings.
Building a Permanent Outdoor Altar/Shrine
When first building your outside altar or shrine, be sure to ask its resident(s) where they would like to be placed. Begin by quieting your mind, relax open yourself up to the specific energies or call out to whom you are trying to connect with. Next turn slowly, notice if there is one particular direction that pulls or speaks to you. Walk in this direction, slow and deliberate. Pay close attention to shifts in energies and whether you are drawn one way or another. Look and listen for signs or messages. Always ask for a confirmation.
Remember when constructing an outdoor altar or shrine keep in mind that the conditions around the area that has been chosen. Your altar’s area may become wet, flood, or have strong cross winds. If possible take consideration to these conditions. You also want to be able to safely access the altar, if the location is not safe, ask the resident for another location because it is unsafe or un accessible.
If you’re lucky to live in a wooded area and want to make a stone altar, but there are no rocks in to be found you will have to carry your rocks. As with any altar, you will want to try to use objects that are native to the area. You also want to make sure that your materials won’t harm the wild and plant life around. If you also plan to leave offerings, be mindful not to leave something that could be harmful.
Once the area is set, it should be dedicated in however your tradition calls for or how and what you feel is necessary.