June 23, 2015, updated February 2017
Altars and shrines and puja tables are all part of setting up your home as sacred space. Here are examples from my own home and ones I’ve enjoyed during my travels. I’ve also created a Pinterest board for altars, shrines, blessings rituals; it has over 300 pins (or images) that may inspire you.
My home puja table is a contemporary reproduction green low Chinese sideboard. My puja set is the principal resident of the table, in front of a silk- and golden-framed Tradition of Masters photo. Some day I will get the components of this puja set gold-plated. I’ve had it since 1974 and it’s been used not only by me hundreds of times but also by my two spiritual teachers, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. A chartreuse green silk fabric scrap, left over from recovering a meditation cushion, forms a yantra. Sitting on it is a 24k gold-plated porcelain egg that a meditating artist friend made for me probably twenty years ago; it’s in a small organic basmatti-rice-filled Ganesha bowl, on top of a marble lotus flower dish. This gold egg is symbolic of what in Sanskrit is called hiranya garbha, or the “golden womb of the universe.” This is a potent image for me from my years on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Vedic Studies program. (It’s also the name of my gold station wagon.) There are some candles, seed crystals on silk, a print of Lakshmi, Ganesha, and Saraswati (They look like they’re having a tea party!), an AshtaLakshmi print with Lakshmi’s eight aspects, photos of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (completely blown out with celestial radiance in this image) and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and other items.
Another altar in my Santa Fe home was in the sacred northeast sector. It features the original picture of Swami Brahmananda Saraswati (Gurudev) that I received in 1974 when I became a TM teacher, along with images of Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and an array of deities from Asian traditions on all four walls. This northeast sector is windowless, which it should not be, so adding all these celestial friends really revved up the energy remarkably in this small space. This leaf offering in water has remained fresh for many months! I love miracles.
My Los Angeles kitchen altar included a Shri Yantra I got in Bangalore, India; Ganesha; my teachers; and fruit. Transcendence Design still offers yantra art prints of Ganesha and Shri Yantra, just different ones than these. You can also purchase less expensive Sri yantras here.
I have enhanced and embellished my setups of yantras throughout my home and art studio. Here is an image of one of my altars when I lived in LA. It includes my favorite Lakshmi print, the gold-plated Shri Meru Chakra, shells and sand dollars I collected on the beaches of Venice and Santa Monica, plus images of Durga, Ganesha, etc.
Although they are potent on their own, I have added many related altar elements to the planetary yantras around my home. Here are examples for first Saturn and then Ketu, two planets that it is wise to befriend:
Surrounding the Saturn yantra are purple flowers for Saturn, the great devotee of Rama--Hanuman (who relieves Saturn energy), Shiva (who sits on top of Saturn to make its effect milder), and a Chinese incense burner.
The Ketu yantra is embellished with golden roses, Ganesha to remove obstacles, and Durga, who also can relieve the pressure of Ketu influence. I have the whole set of thirteen Vastu yantras around my home and studio and always recommend them to everyone who does not have a home built completely according to Vastu guidelines.
I saw a number of artfully arranged altars and shrines set up in the marvelous ABC Home in NYC recently, including these two Ganesha altars. One is in pink and white, the other in blues, including its lighting. I especially loved their imaginative use of gesterally strewn colored powders for these installations.
Also in ABC Home was this stunning array of meticulously arranged beauty that announces “You always had the power, my dear. You had it all along,” a reference to one of the most memorable lines in The Wizard of Oz.
Even the ceiling on a staircase to the mezzanine was magical with LED lights streaming down.
In Santa Fe, there are altars and shrines everywhere too, if you know where to look. This one is at the Sanbusco Market parking lot and is only one of the many Guadalupe shrines (Mother Goddess of the Americas) you can visit around town. Be sure to check out my Pinterest board of altars, shrines, blessings rituals that I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post for lots more ideas. You can also hire me to help you create sacred space and altars in your home or business.
You can find lots of yantras and deity images at Transcendence Design on my yantra and archival art print pages: an array of Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist deities plus planetary, Vastu, Jyotish, and deity yantras and the three-dimensional Vastu Vedic Pyramid and Meru Chakra.
Enjoy creating your altars. Send me photos of your altars and shrines that you’ve created and your experiences with them!