CREATING SACRED SPACE
When someone said the term “sacred space” to me, it used to conjure up images of lofty churches, swinging incense or a temple. Then over time, I thought about it. Space is all around us. It can be full of things or empty of things. A garden, for example, is a space for nature. A kitchen is a space for food and drink. We have space in our mind for thoughts. We have space within our psyche for emotional movement. We occupy our own physical space with our body. We talk about “needing our personal space”. This might mean physical space or head space. Our minds aren’t always full of our own thoughts; it’s often full of other people’s poop as well.
As I gathered knowledge and experience, I came to understand the term as a space indoors or outdoors, where one can enter a contemplative state. It could be for mediation, thinking or daydreaming. My next thought. What is sacred? Does it mean holy? What does holy mean? Religious? Spiritual? Sacred for me, has come to mean special, a communion with myself and with the one true God and Goddess. Respect. Dedication. To be treated with reverence. To be set apart from the mundane. There are sacred places on this planet, natural and man-made. We can create a sacred space anywhere we choose.
As I developed as a therapist, I started to create and use sacred space to heal others. I create sacred space for prayer, ritual, ceremony, for cleansing of items e.g. crystals or cleansing a room. Sacred space has become a place of stillness where I am, either with another or by myself. This space is made sacred by my intent e.g. to heal, to know, to be.
Recently my understanding of sacred space has moved yet again. It’s not only an external state but more profoundly, an internal state. Who do I allow into my sacred space e.g. my home, my mind? And with what intent to I invite them in? To what extent do I allow them to influence me? I am becoming more mindful of what I allow to happen and who I allow in to my sacred space. Consequently I am finding in a work capacity, that which I don’t need is falling away and leaving my sacred space. My habitual response has been to rush and fill this space, but now I am learning a new response and that is to stay with the space.
We need to develop an awareness of our sacred space. By not knowing who and what is in our space, psychologically or physically, we cannot truly engage on a profound level. We need to become familiar with the energies of our sacred space, our physical clutter and our mind chatter. We need to experience space and become comfortable with it and as we integrate with our space, we allow into our space what can grow for our nourishment.
A NATURAL ALTAR
An altar is a sacred space indoors or outdoors, and can helps to set your focus for rituals, meditation, healing and prayer. This space should be alive and teaming with energy. In other words, don’t use it just for decoration or to display decorative items. Items that are used in each ritual and items that provide you focus and inspiration should be maintained on your altar. This is your work space and it should be large enough for you to conduct your spiritual work upon. So you don’t want to overwhelm your space with unnecessary statues, knickknacks and unused objects.
The altar should be geared toward your personal beliefs. This is a spiritual altar and you’ll want to honour your beliefs and the Divine energies that are present in your space. If your beliefs are aligned with Celtic practices, give your altar a Celtic feeling. If you work with specific Gods or Goddesses, a statue of the appropriate pantheon you align with is a good thing to maintain in your space.
An altar cloth may be called for. You can use more than one cloth in varying colours and patterns, depending on the work at hand. But consider the use of the cloth before you cover the altar. If you are going to be mixing herbs, or creating spiritual objects such as handmade candles, smudge sticks or spiritual tools, then you want the cloth to be inexpensive and practical. If however, you are conducting a ritual to celebrate a holiday, then you might use a more formal cloth, any thing from crushed velvet to black satin or Victorian lace.
You may want to represent the four elements on your altar:
- Air: e.g. candles, feathers, smudge stick
- Fire: e.g. candle, incense, a small cauldron, smudge stick, an oil burner, a vessel to burn herbs on
- Water: e.g. a floating candle, flowers in water, a ritual chalice with water in
- Earth: e.g. a plant, a small branch, crystals/gems, a vessel to burn herbs on
An altar can be a permanent table you use in a special room designated for spiritual work. It can be a table you put up and take down after use. You can also find portable altars in various forms and shapes. From briefcase type carrying cases where you can store your altar items, so simple tables you set up and collapse to put away out of sight.
Cleansing: Before you begin any ritual or ceremony, you should clear and cleanse the area where the work is to be done. This is especially true when you’re first consecrating your sacred space. You should re-cleanse this area each time you begin a ritual or use of this space, but these later efforts will all be affected by how you first set the intent and use of energy in this space for the first time.
Closing: Once your work is complete, you must close the energy around your altar. If you created a circle, around your space, closing the circle should incorporate the altar as well. This will ensure the energy used for your workings has properly been shut down. Thank the guides, teachers, God/Goddess that you called or who came into the circle to offer assistance during your work. Imagine the energy around the circle lowering around you, toning down and fading so to speak. Finally, clear the space with a blessing and ask the energies to close the gate to the spiritual realm.
Creating sacred space is a very personal activity. The above are only ideas. Weave your own energy and create whatever feels right for you.