Have you noticed that when you walk into a church, mosque, cathedral, temple or other place devoted to the sacred it feels vastly different from a restaurant, school or a shop?
The energy is different. It feels sacred. There is an air of reverence. Devotion. Stillness.
I have stood in mosques in Turkey, ancient churches in Ireland and Scotland, a Buddhist temple in England and many other sacred spaces in-between. All sacred spaces offer us an experience of meeting the Divine because that is what the energy of the place has been devoted to and used for.
We leave the hustle and bustle of everyday life behind us when we enter sacred space, and remember that we too are sacred. We might walk a little more slowly, breathe a little deeper, get quiet and feel more at peace.
When we enter sacred space, we become more aware of Spirit around us and within us.
And this is the purpose of any sacred space.
I used to think that sacred space only existed in places devoted to religion, but sacred space is any place devoted to spirituality (I define spirituality as the essence of your connection to the Divine and religion as the framework for your devotional practice). So you can create sacred space anywhere as a focus for your connection to the Divine.
It doesn’t even need to be indoors.
Often in nature you’ll stumble upon a place that already feels sacred, e.g. a grove of trees, a much-loved garden or a healing spring. It will usually be somewhere that’s untouched by technology, perhaps back from the path and unnoticed by most. Just like in religious places devoted to the sacred, you become more aware of feelings of reverence, love and spiritual connection in outdoor places like these.
When you enter sacred space, your energy changes. YOU feel more reverential. Devoted. Still.
You can create sacred space outdoors, in any room of your home, your office, and even when you’re travelling. It will give you a focal point for your spiritual practice as well as a sanctuary for your soul.
Creating sacred space reminds us that despite the chaos around us and the chaos that’s sometimes within us, we can consciously choose to devote ourselves to the sacred as a regular practice.
I find it helpful to follow these three steps for creating sacred space, so I’m sharing them with you today in the hope you’ll find them useful too.
- Set your intention. What are you devoted to? What qualities do you want to invoke or embody? What are you hoping to receive from this conscious acknowledgement of the sacred? Perhaps you want to send healing to yourself or someone else. Perhaps you simply want to remember the presence of Spirit in your life. My intention is usually ‘I devote myself and this day to the sacred’ which reminds me to treat each day as a blessing. On the days I take the time to do this, everything flows so much better than the days when I don’t. Going through your day remembering that Spirit’s got your back makes life feel so much more joyful, supportive and miraculous!
2. Light an incense stick, a sage smudge stick or use a sacred space and aura spray to consciously cleanse your energy and devote your awareness to the sacred. If you’re using incense or sage, light it and hold a saucer underneath it then stroke the incense/sage all around your energy field as wide as your hand can reach beyond your body without touching your physical body with it. If you’re using a spray, close your eyes and spray it all around your energy field. I like to start at the top of my head and work all around my body from top to bottom, front to back as though I am wrapping a gossamer cloak of light all around myself using the incense, sage or spray.
Become still, notice your breath flowing through your heart and meditate, pray, chant, drum or do whatever spiritual practice you use to feel connected to the Divine. I like using sacred space sprays when I’m travelling and can’t get access to sacred spaces at home or just before I head into town so I can take that connection to the sacred out the door with me. It’s particularly good to do this if you’ve been feeling blocked, stuck or negative and want to change your energy.
3. Set up an altar or other focal point. Altars can be large, elaborate and ornately decorated or small, simple and easy to dismantle. I usually put down some fabric, a wooden board or a sheet of drawing paper to define the space first. Because I relate to the Celtic tradition, I place something representing earth in the north [crystal, stone, twig, moss or ammonite], air in the east [feather, incense or flowers], fire in the south [candle or tealight] and water in the west [small bowl of water, flower or crystal essence]. Once the four directions have been defined I may decorate the altar with more crystals, a living plant, flowers, artwork, oracle cards, quotes or anything else that feels appropriate for my intention.
I will often devote an altar to a specific quality e.g. love or projects I’m working on, but I also have a simple moveable altar that I set up before spiritual work and dismantle again afterwards. In the morning I spend time at my altar, acknowledging the four directions, the four elements and the elemental beings associated with each direction. I do this by turning to face each direction in turn, mentioning the elements and elemental beings by name and thanking them for being there. I light incense when I honour air, and I light a candle when I honour fire. If your spiritual tradition associates the directions with different elements from those I’ve mentioned in the Celtic tradition, do what feels right for you instead. Other focal points that are alternatives to an altar include setting up a shrine dedicated to the Ancestors; arranging a collection of meaningful sacred items; placing a bunch of flowers or plant in a particular corner of your home, or framing a spiritual image.
Spirit animates all of life and, we as part of life, are spiritual beings by our very nature.
But it’s easy to forget this in the hustle and bustle of everyday life so it helps to create simple sacred spaces and everyday rituals that help us remember. I believe that life can be an expression of the sacred no matter where we are and what we are doing.
Setting up sacred space reminds us of the Divine within us and helps us to live with more love, connection and effortless flow.
Sacred space is not something that lives only in places devoted to religion, it is something that lives within us all. Consciously creating sacred space in our environment helps us to remember that we are all here to walk a path of love, belonging and spiritual connection.
How do you devote space to the sacred? I’d love to hear about your practices.