Altars are constructions, most of the time elevations, used in temples to present offerings to God or to the deities of that temple. Most altars are tables made from wood or stone or another durable material. Sometimes cabinets or boxes function as altars.
Altars usually are specific for the kinds of offerings brought. On some altars, offerings of incense are presented. Other altars accommodate offerings of money, music, things of creation, animals, books of truth etc.
For the priest of a temple and attendants bringing offerings, the altar is the place where they present their gifts to God or to the deities. From the viewpoint of God or the deities, the altar is the place to receive offerings and where a first contact can be made to the believer. Depending on the quality and nature of the offering, God or the deities determine what spiritual blessings are given to confirm the offering.
Priests give carefully designated positions to each altar in a temple. Some altars meant for lower offerings such as cleansing are placed in the entrance of a temple, while the most holy place is reserved for altars on which offerings of a higher meaning are presented.
What is actually offered on an altar? Externally all kinds of objects or also accomplishments can be offered, but from an internal viewpoint, what is offered is love, dedication and energy. Through these inner qualities of an offering, a connection is made to God or to the deity. This connection takes place on a spiritual level. The one who is offering makes a spiritual relation to God or to the deity and expects benefits from the offering by receiving in return love, energy and inspiration from God or the deity.
People who try to elevate the spiritual meaning of their lives, often make altars in their own home or garden. The person who uses such an altar is often both priest and attendant. Such altars are placed in a sanctified place or room. Objects on the table help to create a holy atmosphere, spirit or energy around that altar. Examples of such objects are candles, precious stones, flowers, lamps, sacred paintings, holy ornaments, and symbols in various forms representing certain energies. In some cultures, people dedicate altars in their home to their ancestors instead of to God or deities.
A modern version of an altar is the computer. In a computer, offerings can be made of many kinds, all on the level of 'the word.' Although most people use their computers without consciously bringing offerings, some people dedicated their computer as altars to bring offerings to God or certain deities.
The principle for getting things blessed is: it is allowed to bring the higher to the lower (under certain conditions); it is never allowed to bring the lower to the higher. Blessing is given by bringing a higher energy to for example a person or an object. Desecration takes place when a person or an object with bad energy is allowed in a sacred temple or altar. A blessing is given usually by a (high) priest or a person with similar function. The priest represents God or deities or certain spirits and can give such blessing on the foundation of a fulfilled offering. An offering that is not sanctified before putting it on an altar defiles the altar and is commonly not accepted. (JE)
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