The Ceremony and Tradition of the Altar is one that can be found in many cultures, globally. And within the vast network of unique cultures that practice this ritual, there are vastly diverse ways in which to perform rituals and practices with the Altar.
This article is dedicated to the ritual of creating an altar for our lovers.
What is an Altar?
An altar, in essence, is a place of worship or ritual. It does not have to be a permanent location, or even a permanent design. In fact, in my own practice, my alter is portable and the sacred objects that are inside are continuously changing, though several have been with me since I began carrying an alter. Creating an altar, and developing practice, for me, means that my altar goes with me wherever I go. I never know when I will be called to practice and perform ritual, nor do I know when I will be in need of the forces woven into my Altar.
Before we talk about the Ritual of Creating an Altar for Lovers, I would like to address some of the tools and philosophies that are essential for me in Altar Rituals, carrying an altar, and why these things have become essential in my practice.
If you wish to skip this section and move into the Altar of Lovers Ritual itself, scroll down to “Why would one build an Altar for Lovers”.
For example, I carry with me small empty vials when I travel. This is because I have developed the practice and position as a Sacred Water Bearer. When I visit a place, I pay my respects to the bodies of water there, Mama Cocha, Rivers, Cenotes, Oceans, Creeks, or Holy Waters present at Temples or other Sacred Geographies.
Praying with Water is one of my strongest practices, and thus I carry small vials to collect water from sacred waters. Whether they be an Ocean, a River, or a body of water that resides close to a Temple. I believe that they all have powerful presence, and reflect the Sacred Geography, Spirit, and History of a given Land. I fill my vials with water to carry their Spirits with me, to give offerings to other bodies of water (as the gift of connecting water forces), and us them to bless (when charging stones in lunar water, when in ceremony, while conducting limpias, etc.).
This is one example of how the objects and elementals held within our altar can be used in powerful force when performing prayer and rituals with our altar, given that we have fostered and nurtured a relationship with those forces. I also carry stones, from Temples, Rivers, Sacred Sites, and so forth, that I have visited globally. There are various crystals that I also carry. Within my altar are medicine pouches for particular medicines, as well as 2 sacred clothes that are the wrapping of my portable altar (one a Shipibo Cloth, the other a Mayan woven cloth). I also carry seeds from sacred plants (which I have cleverly disguised as a rattle for customs sake!). There is also the presence of plant material, including the smoking herbs, burning herbs, and essential oils.
With these tools, it is possible for me to conduct any ritual, anywhere. And though I have my altar’s primary set-up (arranging the altar in the 4 Directions, with specific pieces for specific elementals and directions), the point of an alter is that it is temporary and it’s contents diverse, therefore any set up can be made at any time, fully supported by all of the forces within the altar.
This article is about the ritual of constructing an Altar dedicated to Lovers. The purpose of this ritual, for me, is to give gratitude, respect, and love to those who have walked with me in this life.
Why would one create an Altar or Ritual for Lovers?
Why not? For me, so much of my being is interwoven with those whom I have been intimate with. As a woman of deep feeling, with a talent for intimacy, and lover to all things, I feel it so vital for my being to always give gratitude for the ones who have walked beside me, as well as continuously clean the karma between us when we venture into now realms of shared relationship (i.e. friendship, back into lovership, etc.).
I am so much of a romantic, this ritual has helped me to put to rest unresolved emotional feelings, as well as create channels of communication between my being and the astral bodies of my lovers. This is done, and only should be done, for the purpose of healing wounds, gifting love and prayers, and “feeling” out from one soul to another.
Navigating the invisible realms of interwoven energy that humans share is like learning how to be present in ceremony: much happens that we cannot see but we must learn to see it if we are to hold space and presence. If we just ignore it, there are causes and effects that we remain ignorant of.
I give recognition to each person’s unique walk, and speak of the unique ways in which they have touched my life, the ways that they express their unique beauty in this world. I sit in front of the altar and meditate with each aspect (this alter is broken into 3 parts- one for each lover, in a circle, and thus can be rotated) and feel each in my body. I sit with what comes, and if it is something that must be released, I release it. If something is to be thanked, I thank it. If something is to be loved, I love it.
This ritual taught me to fully embody all of the roles that I may play in my lovers lives, without attachment to the role as only the lover. Even if they are past lovers, we are still brother and sister in this walk of life, and I do not stop my prayers because they (or I) chose to walk a different way.
To Make the Altar:
To make the altar, one merely needs the intention for the ritual, whatever that may be. For me, it was connecting to the 3 lovers present here. They were in various geographies at the time, and their positions in my life uncertain (if the lovership was in continuation or not). My intention was to connect to them in the Astral Realm, to pray for their walks, and to release any lingering attachment between us, simultaneously calling in clarity for the new relationships to be had. I even prayed for their new lovers. My intention was also to send love, pure, untainted love.
When the intention is clear (which is very important), one builds the alter. For me, I chose construct the alter in a circular fashion (symbolizing complete equality), and to devote a section of the alter to each Lover individually. I also chose to give them the same symbols. For example, each lover had gifted me a necklace during our lovership, each lover symbolized an exploration of a particular plant (also pictured here), and each lover was present with me when exploring Sacred Geographies (Countries, waters, stones, etc.). Thus, I constructed this altar with symbols directly linked to our shared history, our key elements of intimacy and time together.
The construction of the altar is half the ritual within itself. Choosing objects and symbols, connecting with them in meditation and prayer as you choose them, place them on the altar, and arrange them, is the force that gives the altar life. Thus, when performing a certain ritual as this, most of the power of the ritual comes from your state of consciousness when actually creating the space itself (the altar).
Be sure be in a completely mindful space. As you arrange your sacred tools and objects, signifying the lover, allow yourself to revert into the memories. Allow yourself to feel the love that was shared. Thank it, thank them, and place it on the altar without attachment. Visit each of them in gratitude and thankfulness.
I would say that this altar (as other rituals) are best performed on lunar cycles, as the magnetics of the Earth are in a more potent and powerful state at these times.
Whatever you choose, intention and object, it is so very key that this ritual be seen as a ritual of Love. If ill intention exists, this ritual, like so many others, could result in what some call “Brujeria” or witchcraft. No rituals of this sort should ever be done for harmful intentions, intentions for control, or even intention of intervention of one’s own personal power. Such a thing is what separates “White Magic” from “Black Magic”.
Once you have set up your Altar…
Activate it by doing a ritual of prayer. Smoke tobacco, burn sage or palo santo, whatever helps you activate the space. It is done to say “I am here, I have created this ritual here, and this is my intention. I call upon ______ to be here, to share presence, and to give gratitude, release, and love”. An opening prayer stating name, intention, names of lovers and symbols, and reflecting upon the symbols that you have made, is also a wise idea to place your intentions into a verbal prayer..
From here, my experience was just being conscious of the portal that I had activated for the next 3 days. I kept the altar up for 3 days, and visited it occasionally when I felt the calling to listen, communicate, and to pray. Much came through. Memories that I had forgotten, blockages that needed to be released, attachments that needed to be dealt with within my own heart, and finding through it all that it produced a profound level of gratitude, for things large and small, about the shared history or the person themselves.
Occasionally, I would feel the calling to one lover. I treated the altar in a way that allowed me to turn it. So, if I was feeling connected to one lover, or feeling the need to pray for something between myself & them (or just for them), I would turn it, face it, and sit with it.
In this way, I appreciate Altar Rituals. They do not have to be a full-on ritual that demands presence for it’s entire duration. Instead, I have found that it is a beautiful process of unfolding creativity, which is where the power is for me. The more I allow the ritual to unfold, without having particular ideas about it, the more insightful it is. I didn’t sit by this altar for 3 days straight. The idea was silly to me. But to have it up, and to be in a space of consciousness for those three days, allowed me to go into deeper realms with myself, in relation to these beautiful beings. I was simply conscious and aware of my own space, and that I had activated a portal of prayer and communication.
What happens after the ritual?
For me, my more sensitive lovers, had experiences of my presence within their fields during the 3 days that I performed this ritual. One former lover, now brother, who was in the jungles of Peru at the time, had an experience of feeling the power of the plant medicine that we shared, strongly, during the night that I put up the alter. I also had the same powerful feeling when placing his plant upon the altar.
Another lover, had shared with me (when I shared the nature of the ritual afterwards) that it was interesting that I had chosen the Mapacho for him because he had been making flower essences with the flowers of his own plants, and that he had felt a deep connection to it within the recent times of his life.
It is not to say that my ritual caused any of this, that is just silly. But it is to say that there are threads of connection that when tapped through symbols and rituals, can allow us to access deeper states of connectedness with the ones we love and support.
I took the altar down after 3 days. It for me was incredibly healing. I noticed deeper states of meditation between myself and a lover who was in a ceremonial realm of the 3 days, our astral bodies connecting more profoundly than with the others. I noticed an intuitive understanding of where they all were, and I felt an expansion of the beauty and love that I had for them, a release of what was no longer serving, and concluded the ritual with an intention for new pathways of love to form between us, in whatever form that was to be.
I recommend this ritual for anyone who feels the desire to transcend selfish desires between self and others. As a practice of pure, unadulterated love, this ritual allows for the cultivation of deeper presence between ourselves and the threads that connect our hearts to others ❤