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Middle English alter, from Old English altar, from Latin altare; probably akin to Latin adolēre to burn up


  • 1 : a usually raised structure or place on which sacrifices are offered or incense is burned in worship —often used figuratively to describe a thing given great or undue precedence or value especially at the cost of something else <sacrificed his family life on the altar of career advancement>
  • 2 : a table on which the eucharistic elements are consecrated or which serves as a center of worship or ritual

For lessons on the topic of Altars, follow this link.


An altar is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices and votive offerings are made for religious purposes, or some other sacred place where ceremonies take place. Altars are usually found at shrines, and they can be located in temples, churches and other places of worship. Today they are used particularly in the religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Shinto, Taoism, as well as Christianity, LaVeyan Satanism, Thelema, Neopaganism, and in Ceremonial magic. Many historical faiths also made use of them, including Greek and Norse religion.[1]