Symbolises the sense of awe in face of life, nature or God. Also willingness, in face of this, to sacrifice some personal desires, to that of a universal desire. Schweitzer has said that a man who picks a worm out of a puddle is acting for life as whole, not just personal self.

Self giving – this can be a very positive action, or a sort of self punishment out of guilt. It can also represent standing before what you feel is of immense importance in life. Altars can link with a place of death, but also of rebirth, and thus a meeting with the universal life of which you are a part, and an connection with it through self sacrifice or surrender. The altar may be used to represent your feelings about other people sacrificing you to their needs. In which case you need to define what your needs are.

Standing before the altar is something we do on special occasions such as getting married, communion, birth or dying. So depending on the contents and context of the dream, there may be a reference to one of these. In this sense the altar is a link between the visible and invisible, conscious and unconscious elements of you. Like the sarcophagus it can also represent death and rebirth. As such it is a place of change, and may be a play on the word ‘alter’.

What is on the altar: As the altar is basically a point of transformation and sacrifice, what is on the altar may suggest what you give the highest value to in your life, and what you worship; perhaps what you are sacrificing.

See: death and rebirtharchetypes; church.

Gradually my being became quieter and quieter. My breathing slowed down so much it seemed almost non-existent. I had a feeling of my peripheral, changing self, slowly dying in ashes to reveal what all the world is seeking. I felt that as my peripheral self died, there was the possibility of this other part of my being shining through more brightly. Brenda was still beside me, and I had the sense of my body being an altar on which the exterior me had burnt away, revealing an eternal quality, and Brenda, other people, receiving it, worshipping it. There was nothing personal or worthy of self praise about this, because all had this central being. But I never really seemed to experience this thing. It never shone out. In the end I wondered if what I was experiencing was yet another cul-de-sac one is led to believe the Self is found through – that is by letting the outer self die.

Useful Questions and Hints:

What am I ‘giving up to God’, or some higher power?

Does this represent something I hold in the most high esteem?

Is there a transforming influence in my life?

What is being altered?

Do I feel I am sacrificing myself in some way?

See Processing Dreams.

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