Creating an altar is so much more than just setting up for ritual. Though we (our Coven) do have a specific format for our rituals, I find the most pleasure in my personal altar spaces. There is power in both the formatted altar space, and personal one. When working in a coven or for the moons etc. We use a specific format. It is our secret! Keeping this secret and silent contains energy, it also builds power. Each time we use the same objects in the same place during ritual it creates a practice, that just like a specific prayer or movement can be very magical. Its like wearing a suit to work every day. It is prim and proper, makes you feel good and have confidence.... but this is not the only way!
The personal altar spaces I create are the most creative, and carries a life force that is unique and truly magical. These sacred spaces are organic and ever changing. Their location changes, their purpose changes, they simply just change. They are erected for a need or purpose and when the time has passed they are taken down. I keep a "purpose" altar space by my bed. This allows me to burn candles through the night (safely) and is a wonderful reminder before and after bed what my intentions are. To the right is the bed side altar in two different forms.
The act of creating the altar in itself is ritual. The carefully selecting the objects, the consecrating of the space, cleansing of the table or cloth, and lastly the first act done before the completed altar is always a sacred one. It could be a prayer, spell, incantation, or even just a moment of silence, or meditation.
Once the Altar space is set, it is time for the ritual or meditation to begin. There is something so magical about seeing the elements at work, thick sensuous smoke rising through a bed of fresh flowers, and stones.
The creation of sacred space, and an Altar is one of pure devotion and love. It is a beautiful act that holds the energy of the prayers, meditations, and spells that are performed on its surface. Not only that it is an act of honor, whether that is to an element, cause of deity the act of creating it, and its lasting presence in a constant act of honor and devotion. This is not a practice to be over looked or taken lightly the creation of the space is just as important as the acts created on it.