This is my first collaboration post. My collaborator is PeaceNowFlower. This is about, as the title suggests, joy altars. This is not only going to feature ideas for typical altars, but also joy alters (as PeaceNowFlower might say). A joy alter is something that serves the function a joy altar does but without an actual altar. For anybody who is unknowledgeable about altars, the function of them is to provide a dedicated space for spiritual purposes. Having a joy altar thus functions to help you keep joy plentiful in your life. An altar can be set up on various types of surfaces depending on space and what is available. For a more typical altar, you can use a table or wooden chest. You can use a tray or storage container that slides under your bed if you are short on space. There are many more options that can be imagined for setup surfaces. You should put your altar somewhere you can have privacy if possible in order to improve focus. Of course the first thing you need to do before creating this altar is to think about what brings you happiness. You should then be able to recognize things that symbolize joy for you. Now I will provide various ideas for creating a joy altar (or joy alter).
The Witchy Altar:
This altar probably requires the most thought in its creation because it requires knowledge of magickal and/or shamanic correspondences. There are widely accepted correspondences within the craft, but not every correspondence or association is going to click with everybody. It is okay to come up with your own correspondences (even though not every witch will agree with that statement). Sunny yellow shades are often considered joyful, but it probably won’t achieve that feeling for you if you dislike yellow. Some questions to ask yourself when creating a witchy joy altar are:
- What element most relates to joy for me? (Some may relate joy to calming water energy while others may relate joy to passionate fire energy.)
- Do I believe joy corresponds to a particular direction? If so, which direction is that?
- What crystals help put me in a good mood when I hold them or have them in my environment?
- Is it safe (or allowed) to burn candles in the altar space available to me? (Some pets may be tempted to snoop around the flames, and I have heard of dorms not allowing candles. Having a burned pet or getting kicked out of your dorm is not likely to bring joy.)
- Do I have clean-burning incense? (It is not easy to feel joy while coughing or experiencing a headache.)
- Do I have any sentimental items that may contain joyous energy?
- What animals represent joy to me?
There are a few ways to go if putting a candle on your joy altar. You can choose a candle color that you associate to happiness, a while candle (which tends to be thought of as a multi-purpose candle), or a black candle (which many consider to ward of negative energy). You may use an altar cloth that has a cheery color or print. I personally find flowers to be quite cheery. I tend to decorate with faux flowers because they are long lasting, often inexpensive, and require no care. Real flowers tend to have uplifting smells in addition to beauty though if you don’t mind the cost of replacing them. Small stone carvings of animals are appreciated by many as items to put on their altars. If you can find such a carving in the form of your joy animal, it could be a great addition to your altar. I could go on and on, but I suppose this is enough about this option.
Plants can really improve a space. Not only do they produce oxygen, some are known to purify the air. The clean air, beauty, and pleasant aromas plants can provide can certainly inspire joy. I personally love walking around a plant nursery or even a small floral section in a grocery store. You should probably research plant care information before making a purchase for this altar. Plants require varying amounts of sunlight, water, fertilizer, etc. in order to survive. Some plants are poisonous to consume, in which case you need to place them where pets and small children cannot reach them. Plants also have drastically different life spans. Some will live for a season while others will live for years. Your plant will likely bring you just as much disappointment as joy if it quickly perishes. This is especially true if you splurge on some plants. With that in mind, check plants for gnats before buying them. I once invested maybe $75 into a small succulent garden. I didn’t know to check for gnats then, and the result was quickly rotted plants. I tried changing the soil, but the damage had already been done because the gnat larvae had apparently already worked their way into too many roots. I was super pissed off at those gnats. I also will not buy plants from that store location anymore.
There are perks to easy care plants and plants with more care needs. A plant that requires more care forces you to focus more on it, and thus to concentrate more on the joy you wish you cultivate. However that can backfire if you don’t have a green thumb or adequate free time. Also, a finicky plant may cause you to sacrifice a joy to help it survive. For example: I had a lovely African violet that was supposed to be “easy care”. For the most part it was. However, leaving my window open one day changed the temperature and/or humidity in my room a little bit. That caused the plant to go limp and I could not get it to recover. I will probably not get another African violet because I am not willing to sacrifice the freedom to have my window open. Easy care plants may be preferred because you have a better chance for them to thrive. It is uplifting to see something you take care of doing well. My go-to plant is pothos. I find it to be the easiest plant to care for and to cultivate. It is also a plant said to purify the air. Your plant altar can simply be one plant on plant stand or it could be the top of a dresser covered with potted plants. That just depends on how much time and energy you are willing and able to dedicate to the upkeep of your plant alter. Something important to note is that you are required to focus on joy while caring for the plants and/or looking at them. Otherwise you just have a collection of plants instead of a joy altar.
You may want to have a joy alter on your wall. Find a wall with plenty of empty space and then put up pictures of loved ones, beautiful landscapes, cute animals, etc. You may like to put up some of your child’s artwork if you are a parent. The images don’t necessarily have to look great. They just have to incite joy within you. I have a wall with several images of hummingbirds on it because hummingbirds represent joy to me.
The easiest option may be to put up a computer screen background that brings you joy. You could make a digital collage, a photo from one of your happiest moments, cheerful art, or even use a goofy picture of a donkey to bring you joy. You may also decide to add to this by creating a playlist of songs that stir happiness in you. It might seem silly in spiritual context to sing along with “Baby Got Back”, but silliness can certainly arouse joy. Similarly, you may want to create a “Joy” playlist on YouTube.
Click here to read PeaceNowFlower’s suggestions. Blessed be, y’all.