Altar-ed States

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: At Home Issue: April 2014

“My sacred space in my home is a mixture of Eastern and Western philosophies,” says Emily Stopka, sales associate and spiritual guide at VisionQuest Metaphysical Bookstore in Phoenix. “For me it felt right to incorporate everything, including Christianity, including Paganism, Buddhism, Hinduism.” Stopka guides customers through VisionQuest’s offerings and encourages them to “do what feels right to you. It doesn’t matter what’s on your altar or what’s not, as long as you know your intention within and you charge those items with that kind of intention.”

Altars can be used for meditation, motivation, manifestation and inspiration as well as commemoration. Purple Lizard Boutique owner Marguerite Tram advises her customers on creating Día de Los Muertos-style altars in memory of family, friends and even pets who have passed. “They realize that maybe this is a helpful expression to work through the mourning process,” Tram says. “It’s an art way to work through the process. There is no format. It’s not in a box. And that’s OK – it can be whatever.”

Common themes thread throughout altars of all faiths and spiritual inclinations – light, fragrance, symbols and, most importantly, personal meaning. If it means something to you, it belongs in your sacred space.

“It goes a lot deeper than someone wanting to light a candle and some incense and praying to something that they may not really understand yet,” Stopka says. “It’s a great start toward self-discovery and discovering the cosmos within and without by creating sacred space.”

Above: An Eastern philosophy-themed altar incorporates Buddhist and Hindu elements for a meditation and prayer space. Shiva statue ($35), Buddha statue ($18), Ganesha statue ($38), Buddha box ($25.95), incense burner ($18.95), stones ($10 each). VisionQuest Metaphysical Bookstore, 3114 E. Indian School Rd., Phoenix, 480-949-1888,

Purple Lizard Boutique
Wooden santos of San Pascual and San Francisco and a fiery Calavera Catrina (“elegant skeleton”) figurine anchor this Día de Los Muertos-style altar from Purple Lizard Boutique, where every product is sourced from Arizona and Mexico. “For me it makes dying different,” owner Marguerite Tram says of the holiday and its explosively colorful altars. “Celebrating every year their memory and remembering over and over and over again – you start smiling, you start laughing. It’s not just going forward and leaving them behind.” Prices for these items range from $6-$165.
2827 N. 15th Ave., Phoenix
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Soothing neutrals and shimmery pastels manifest the calming, cleansing energy of this altar, which incorporates pagan and Native American traditions. Sage bundles ($4.95) are burned over abalone shells ($20) to purge negative energy, while sweetgrass braids ($12) are burned to welcome positive energy. Glass mermaid figurine ($24.95), quartz ($125), soapstone oil burner ($12.95).
Gold Canyon Candles
Light and aroma are hallmarks of at-home altars. Achieve both with this energizing assortment from the Chandler-based candle company. From tallest to smallest: Birthday Cake Lumie ($24.27), Extreme Medium Heritage ($16.75), Blueberry Tangerine Ogee ($13.98), Red Hot Cinnamon VoLights ($12.48 for a pack of three). Visit or connect with a local consultant for a catalogue.
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