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.

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The simple act of displaying her hidden aspects has two powerful effects. First, the woman feels whole as each part of herself has its "moment in the sun" on her altar. Second, the woman embraces her uniqueness as she witnesses her personal inner beauty. An altar can be an actualization of a vision--in this instance, a vision of a valuable, powerful person who lives according to her own standards, irrespective of society's view of her.

Creating an altar is a life-affirming act in a world seemingly hell-bent on destruction. The altar provides comfort by acclaiming, through its very existence, that the woman is an integral part of the living cosmos, that her life is touched by the same mysterious rhythm bringing the seasons round and round, and that beneath the apparent chaos of her life an ordering force beats quietly. The altar becomes an exquisite manifestation of the healing energy of integration. Altar-making clears a path through the clutter of her world and creates a place where the feminine force in her life is visible, where she is free to maker her inner journey, where healing is abundant.


If you are unsure where to begin, set aside some "quiet time" and contemplate the following thought-provoking questions:

"What am I thankful for?"
"What gives me peace?"
"What healing or blessing do I need?"
"What inspires me?"
"What is magical in my life?"
"What makes me feel special?"
"What in my life excites me, gets my juices flowing, makes me feel alive?"

Jot down your answers. The questions focus you on both the difficulties and the blessings in your life. The answers fecome the fertile soil from which springs the themes for your personal altars.

[Here are] several possible themes for your altar:

Honor Mother Nature
Connect with the energy of wind, fire, earth, or water
Pay homage to a totem animal or a deceased pet
Gather healing energies for yourself or another
Offer thanks
Prepare for a difficult task
Bring good luck
Connect with the muse of creativity
Gather your dreams
Pay homage to the holiness of daily life

Any of these--or one of your own--is a perfect altar theme.


Sometimes the theme for your altar will come to you in an unexpected way. For example, you come across a blue jay's feather in your back yard.

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Nancy Brady Cunningham
Photos by Denise Geddes
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