Shamanic Altar by Davina Mackail

Shamanic Altar by Davina Mackail

For a shaman an altar, or mesa as it is called in the Peruvian tradition is a sacred container.  Hence, the Shamanic Altar, is a structure, that can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish to make it, that through practise becomes an intimate and well-known mini Universe for the shaman. This allows them to travel deeper and further in mediation.  It is the beginning and end point for journeying. The altar energy acts like Ariadne’s golden thread that always pull them back to home base, sitting at their familiar altar, no matter how far they have journeyed.

The Shamanic Altar

A simple altar can be set up to honour the four sacred directions and elements that make up our Universe.

  • Using a candle to represent fire in the East,
  • A crystal or rock to represent the earth realm in the South
  • a feather or stick of incense to represent the air element in the North
  • and a shell or glass of water to represent the water element in the West. 
  • You might like to add something precious and meaningful for you to the centre such as a photograph, a piece of jewellery or crystal to represent the heart centre.  

I like to add things to my altar to represent and honour the changing seasons.  For example, I might add bulbs in the Spring, blossoms in the Summer, Acorns and pine cones in the Autumn and holly and hawthorn berries in the Winter.  I like to keep fresh flowers on my altar as a way of bringing beauty into my daily awareness.

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Where should I put my Shamanic Altar?

The best place to site your altar is a neutral space in your home that perhaps you already use as a meditation or yoga area.  This could be a corner of the living room or home office for example.  Be aware of who will see this deeply personal expression of Self.  If you have lots of visitors you may like to cover your altar to protect your energetic privacy from prying energies when the house is full, unless your guests are people you feel comfortable being fully open with.  Bedrooms are best kept for developing your intimate relationships and even if single are not the best place to put your altar – the energy in this room should be focussed on human relationships rather than Spiritual ones.

What is a Shamanic Altar?

An altar is an external expression of your connection to Spirit and also a mirror of your sacred self.  It is a visual, physical reminder of your relationship with a higher power and can be used as a way of focussing your energy on that connection.  A simple daily ritual to connect with your altar can be the act of sitting or standing in front of it as you start each day, taking some deep breaths, relaxing, lighting the candle, and focussing on whatever you are truly grateful for in your life.  Where our attention goes our energy flows and this simple daily acknowledgement really encourages the flow of more opportunities for gratitude into our lives.  It truly sets our day up with the best energy for ease and flow into our lives. (Never leave a lit candle unattended.)

For more information about Davina’s work go to

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