A Guide to Women's Altars

A personal altar invites us to reconnect with the deeper parts of ourselves. Here's how to get started.

Reprinted with permission of Red Wheel/Weiser.

When a woman creates an altar, she re-collects the scattered parts of herself, reconnects with her inner beauty, and reflects on the Essential Feminine within her psyche.

Her altar represents her essential self and becomes a visual metaphor for her woman-spirit. A woman's altar is the bridge between her inner world and the world of form. It is where she is free to capture and display the shapes, the shades, and the substance of her invisible essence. Once she has created the altar, a woman depends on it to tell the story of her inner life. It is a place of her own where she can take time to make sense of the insane pace of her life, where she can find the space to simplify, where she can just sit and stare.

The altar becomes a place where the woman can commune with both the personal and the cosmic aspects of herself, where she can both dance with the Divine and imbue every aspect of her personal life with sacredness, where she can both reclaim her power and revel in her innate beauty.

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An altar can be used in many ways:

to say thank you to the powers that be
to celebrate Mother Nature in all her guises
to seek spiritual wisdom
to honor the ancestors
to offer up struggles
to receive creative inspiration
to dialogue with the deeper part of her being
to honor her body

This is a partial list--the uses of the altar are limited only by a woman's imagination!

The altar is a canvas on which a woman paints various and often contradictory portraits of herself: One month she's in touch with her artist's soul, the next she's considering taking courses in computer science. One week she's intent on mediating her family's problems, the next she's boldly, bluntly expressing her opinions to all concerned. One day she's all gentle warmth, the next she's a sizzling siren. The various altars reflect and honor all the many selves she harbors within her psyche.

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Nancy Brady Cunningham
Photos by Denise Geddes
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