Nano Prep: October 25: Creativity Altar

The Creativity Altar is a useful, inspirational tool. It doesn’t have to be attached to any particular religious system, and the sky’s the limit on how you put it together.

I have a steady creativity altar in my office, set on a glass tray I received from my grandmother. It holds shells, candles, a small crystal ball, a smooth wooden Buddha statue, crystals, stones, and an assortment of other objects that symbolize creativity to me. When I sit down to write, I like to light the candle. When I am done with that day’s writing, I extinguish the candle. The ritual of lighting the candle helps me drop down into my creativity; the gesture of extinguishing it allows me to return to the world, leaving my sacred space of imagination.

At the same time, I often create project-specific altars. For instance, I taught a year-long novel writing class. At the beginning of the class, I set up an altar dedicated to that year’s work, also in my office. I assembled a group of objects to inspire me for the coming year, adding to the space as new objects appeared, removing those as things changed over the year, and, at the end, ritually disassembling the altar with thanks for what it meant to me throughout the year. The items were either returned to the earth, or used as inspiration for other projects.

Friends have multi-tiered creativity altars, where one tier has permanent symbols, with other tiers represent specific projects. See what works for you.

Some terrific books on this topic are:

MOVE YOUR STUFF, CHANGE YOUR LIFE by Karen Rauch Carter – the best Feng Shui book I’ve ever read. Fireside Press: 2000.

ALTARS: BRINGING SACRED SHRINES INTO YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE by Denise Linn. Ballantine Wellspring: 1999. (gorgeous photos)

SACRED SPACE. Denise Linn. Ballantine: 1995.

ALTARS MADE EASY. Peg Streep. HarperSanFranciso. 1997


  1. Love the idea of lighting the candle and extinguishing it when you are finished writing. I think I need a ritual for my writing.

    • It helps. Even when you’re very disciplined, the rituals set it apart from the rest of your day, without being too isolationist. I find rituals help integrate, even while setting something aside as special or sacred.

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