According to Webster’s Dictionary, one of the meanings of the word sacred is:
Designated or exalted by a divine sanction; possessing the highest title to obedience, honor, reverence, or veneration; entitled to extreme reverence; venerable and something which is consecrated, devoted and dedicated to.
Sacred Space is all around us. Sacred Space is within us. It is as simple as a beautiful garden or the tiniest plot of earth upon which a single flower may bloom or as elaborate as a great hall, adorned and ready for a ritual of high celebration and magick. It is not the particulars of the space itself that make it one of sacred energy, but rather, the intent and use of that space that form the container into which the Divine may flow.
These definitions alone, provide clues as to the process and reason why the creation of Sacred Space is a cornerstone of magickal practice and the very act of that creation will go far to enhance your personal magickal practice and growth. And, if that space is a small altar or permanent feature of your home each time you pass this space you will be reminded of your intent and spiritual goals in walking this Path. This space should be created with the intent of building positive energy and forming a statement of your beliefs and practice. It is also a call to commitment towards whatever your particular path may be. In taking the time, energy and effort to assign a special space within your home to those concepts and philosophies you hold as your personal truths, you have taken concrete and manifest action towards that goal.
Once you have established your sacred space at home, ideally that particular space should not be used for other things. It should have its own boundaries, kept clean and dust-free with the items contained upon it handled only by you, or if shared with your house-mate, by whomever put the energy into creating this space. If this is not possible, carefully select items to share the space. For instance, if you use your mantle as a small altar, placing objects such as pictures of cherished family members is supportive of that energy. I would not leave trash or unwashed plates and cups next to your spiritually charged items of devotion.
Using the same space regularly for ritual and raising energy retains a portion of that energy raised and with each use that space becomes more empowered and responds more readily to what type of magickal work is done within it. This is the same principle that occurs and applies to the dynamics and energies that are felt at the numerous sacred sites throughout the world. If enough energetic and spiritual activity has occurred regularly and routinely on that site there is a permanent change that has taken place in the basic energetic patterns of the site.
If you do not have a space that is permanent (and I am sure most of us would fall into this category), particularly for ritual, wherever you choose to set up that space should be clean and tidy with careful attention to both casting the circle and removing the energy of the circle once the ritual is complete. We often use a coven member’s living or dining rooms for our rituals. Since these rooms are also used daily by the occupants, attention is given to removing any residual energy from the ritual and its casting, so the space may be returned to its mundane uses. I am also mindful that when I use my living room at home for personal ritual that the casting be strong enough that the energy does not “bleed” into the bedrooms located directly overhead.
An altar could be thought of as a small piece of sacred space. Setting up an altar space in your home can provide a point of focus and create the correct supportive ambience for establishing a personal practice of devotion. Items that are lovingly and with intent placed upon this dedicated sacred space serve to connect you more deeply to the energy that you are communing with. An altar can be as simple as a small shelf on a bookcase, a small end table, the top of a bureau or a small corner shelf affixed to the wall.
The contents can be dedicated to a specific deity, element, ancestor or just things of beauty that you find that stimulate a sense of well-being and calmness. One of the classes I taught had a session about portable altar spaces. A shoebox altar can conveniently hold, small tools, an altar cloth, small statue, candle, incense and more. Additionally, with the lid closed, it becomes the altar table as well! I will have plenty of pictures and suggestions when we come to the lesson later this month dedicated to Altars.
When we set up sacred space to do ritual there is generally a main altar that is placed in the center of the space. This altar serves as the central core that contains the physical representations of the elements, Deities with whom you work and any seasonal decorations that you wish to include. It then becomes the microcosm within the greater macrocosm of universal and cosmic energy and flow. Additionally, each of the quarter spaces have decorated altars specific to that Cardinal direction’s element. We’ll learn more about that later.
Setting up an altar as your center of focus for meditation can be a wonderful way to more deeply connect to the quiet space within. We are visual beings and beginning a meditation by looking at a beautiful crystal, the smoke from the incense and the patterns it creates as it wafts upwards or simply staring into the central core of the flame of a candle can relax and quiet your physical being and your mind. Adding a beautiful cloth to sit upon or drape over the surface of the table you have placed your focus items on sets the stage for an enhanced experience.
Setting up a sacred space that is dedicated with the intent of use for journaling and writing may seem like an additional and unnecessary step, but the very act of taking the time to do this honors your creative process and the fruits of those endeavors.
These are some of the ways in which Sacred Space is used. As we move through this month’s lessons, you’ll see that each of these venues offers its own quality of magick, whether sacred space has been declared or not. The very act of intent transparently connects you to the ephemeral world, thus creating its own layer of sacred space to work within.