Since spirituality seems to be an ever increasing presence in my life, I think its about time to get an altar/meditation space. My current desktop altar isn’t cutting it. I need a space in my room that is *specifically* for meditations. I’ve been thinking about cleaning out one corner of my room that faces west. Now the religion I have only really known to use an altar is the Wiccan/Pagan religion and they align their altars to North. But my desktop and computer area is already facing north and there is no way am I going to move my desk around. My desk came with a miniature extension table to store a printer. Since I’m home from school, I’m gonna have to clean that off since its’ storing craft supplies right now and move my printer to it. Once I clean that area out I think I will have enough space for a small meditation altar.
HOWEVER, this space is facing West. So I’ve been doing research about the significance of having an altar face West and apparently there’s some significance from the eastern traditions which is perfect.
In the Buddhist tradition,
It is ideal to set up a Buddhist altar in a dedicated room. If the building is of two or more stories, it is proper to set it up on the top floor. If there is no dedicated room available, a quiet place or a room which can be closed up for quiet meditation at the regular practice time should be selected.
The orientation of a Buddhist altar depends on the main Buddha worshipped. If the practitioner majors in the Pureland school, the main Holiness should be Amitabha Buddha And hence the altar
should be oriented toward the East. In case of the Healing Buddha who eliminates misfortunes and prolongs lives, it should be orientated toward the West. (All notes below are added into the English translation by Dr. Lin. Note 1: Amitabha Buddha’s Pureland is in the West, hence the altar ideally is to be set up such that when we face Him, we are facing the West. A similar remark applies to the case of the Healing Buddha whose Pureland is in the East.) If the wall available is not of the ideal orientation, it is also fine to ignore this point. It is proper to select a wall with sufficient illumination so that it is easier for the practitioner to concentrate on gazing at the holy images .
The north doesn’t feel right to me. I just don’t seem to have any spiritual connection to the North, however, only during rituals and meditations do I face the North… I really do feel a strong pull towards to the to set up this altar.
The early Christians also faced West,
Worshippers in the courtyard could witness the sacrifices offered in front of the holy of holies, and knew that therein God dwelt behind a series of curtains, through which only the high priest could pass. Priests and people faced west toward the Presence of God, the Shekinah. With the entrance in the east, sunlight was admitted in the morning, while the structure provided a modicum of shade over the courtyard in the hot afternoon.
Most spiritualists say you should put a place that is easiest for you. Just orientate the ritual/circle to north when you are actually doing one. For some reason I seem to have a strong elemental connection to water (the element of the west) right now. Dunno why.
Upon doing more research however I found this pagan thread in a forum where someone asked the question, The Altar-is it ok to have it facing the west?
One reply really resonated with me,
Your altar should face the direction that is taught in your tradition. Usually this would be the North or the East. The West is the direction of endings, imagination, the subconscious, and dreams; I don’t know of any tradition which uses it on a regular basis.
Of course!! Subconscious, dreams, imagination, all things related to the third eye! No wonder I feel a strong connection there. But I *DO* like what other traditions say about the Presence of God being in the West. Also I get a lot of sunlight this time of year and to have it shine down on my altar would be cool. So I think that’s settled, I will put near that wall when I’ve saved enough monies for the table I’m thinking about buying.