Well since it has holy inscriptions and symbols burned into the surface, doing anything that is going to rub those out is not really in my interests!
The altar got DIRTY...so much incense and candles that drip off the best of holders get it filthy.
So I first broomed it as well as I could...tried some water with dish soap (yes, the cockatoos managed to make a mess in one spot flying over it...this is what happens in a studio apartment with two birds!) to remove the bird mess, then, since I did not have olive oil, tried some vegetable oil on it after the water dried a bit.
It seems fine and no damage to the many holy symbols or sacred writings.
It was really getting a bit dried out!
I think cleaned off my antique night stand and tried the vegetable oil on that, using a DROP of vinegar on this spot that had some sort of goo and a little bit of a dish scrubber for a few seconds...and that worked!
I'm almost amazed how a tablespoon of VEGETABLE OIL can revive a very oil piece of cherry wood!
I figured vegetable oil might work as a substitute for olive oil because I know from aviculture that they tan leather with it for bird toys...vegetable tanned leathers are the preferred choices for toys or anything in beak range!
So all worked out. :)