How do you make and keep altars and shrines?

We’ve had a thread for showing off our altars and shrines for a while, and we’ve had several threads asking for help with altars and shrines. How about a thread digging into the specifics of how you use these magical/ritual concepts in your practice?

I recently set up a new desk that has a separate platform off to the side from the main one; I’ve been using it as an altar, on which I keep a few specific things. One is a speaker for playing music; another is a fountain through which I make water libations to my gods; and the rest are tools and magical items. It’s been satisfying to keep it clean and perform a simple cleansing ritual before it. I’ve also noticed that it serves a distinctly different purpose than my shrine, which is simply to house beautiful things and idols in honor of my Powers.

But the process of setting up this altar and starting to practice at it has gotten me thinking about just what purpose altars and shrines serve for modern pagans. For me at the moment, my altar is serving the purpose of helping me organize my changing practice and anchor it in simple rules and rituals at all times. As such, I have clear rules about what I keep on it versus what I keep on the shrine, and I make sure to perform a daily ritual of cleansing and offering there.

But I know that other people have different experiences, and I’m interested in learning about them. If you keep altars or shrines in your practice–what purpose do they serve? On what principles do you construct them? What rituals do you perform at them regularly? How do you take care of them? Do you merge them into one altar/shrine, or keep multiple separate spaces for different purposes and Powers?

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