How to Make a Taoist Altar

Central to ceremonial forms of Taoist practice is the Taoist altar. The specific arrangement of the altar varies from sect to sect, and takes different forms also according to the particular ritual or ceremony that is being enacted. There are certain objects, however, that are always present, and the symbolism of these objects remains basically the same, regardless of what form the ritual takes.


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    Place on the altar a statue or an image of the deity being honoured.
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    Have a sacred lamp. A Sacred Lamp should be placed in front of the statue/image. This represents the light of the Tao.
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    Light candles. Placed to the left and right of the sacred lamp should be two candles. These represent the Sun and the Moon.
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    Place three cups. In front of the sacred lamp there should be three cups. The cup on the left should contain water, which represents Yang. The cup on the right should contain tea, which represents Yin. The center cup should contain grains of uncooked rice, which represents the union of Yin and Yang.
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    Place the plates of fruit and bowls of food. In front of the three cups there should be five plates of fruit and five bowls of food. The plates of fruit represent the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal & water) in their pre-natal form. The bowls of food represent them in their post-natal.
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    Have an incense burner. In front of the five plates and five bowls should be an incense burner, which represents the lower abdominal area of the human body, called the lower Dantian.


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  • You should take off your shoes before entering the Shrine Room/area.
  • Treat the Altar with the utmost respect at all times.
  • The altar should be placed in a separate room if it is available.
  • You should tape some talismans or a Bagua mirror to the alter to protect from evil spirits (ghost, demons, your ex, etc.)
  • Learn some spells from a sect or master to protect your alter.
  • Learn scripture to cultivate your mind


  • Make sure your deity statue is consecrated or else your statue might get possessed by a spirit!

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Categories: Taoism