I thought I'd share some thoughts and reflections about the bomos (altar) from my perspective as an Ogdoadic Tradition student and theurgist.
I see a lot of showing off of altars these days and many strike me more as a shelf full of knickknacks than a place of divinity or reverence. Around the world in history, the altar has been a place of worship, ceremony, sacrifice, and offerings. The common modern Neopagan adaptation feels much more like a conglomeration of things that the individual likespersonally.
The altar serves as a place in which archetypal and/or divine presence is ensouled/enshrined and welcomed. The items we place upon the altar should be clear, concise, and with intention to further link the connection to the divinity for which it is built. The preparation of the altar is the preparation of receiving the presence of the divine into a suitable vessel or focal point.
The divine, archetypal, etc. are all around us at any given time. In order to focus and harness a specific one, we use filters and focuses like a prism or color filter to bring out the color (divinity) we want to ensoul and anchor. In order to do this, we need to provide correspondence, items that reflect the presence and energy of that divinity.
We need an agalma, a symbol, for it to bind. This is usually a statue, a picture, symbol, or other image associated with that divinity.That item or symbol is usually fumigated with incense associated with the divinity and acts as the primary vehicle for the divinity to enter. Any other items present, other than ceremonial tools, should serves as further enhancements and foci to make the ideal environment and atmosphere for the intended divinity.
Many times we see altars with little focus and a broad assortment of items with little connection or purpose past looking nice or a "gut feeling". These convoluted altars are like T.V. static, mixed and confused without common goal. These actually further hinder our connection to the divinity rather than enhancing it. We're talking through a receiver, but it all just sounds like static in the end. It's not the ideal environment for a specific divinity to step into.
My advice would be to remain very conscious and intentional with what you put on your altars. Ask yourself: "does this item serve to increase my connection or does it cloud it?"