My alarm sounds at 6am.
I stretch, rub my eyes, and am careful to avoid stepping on the dog as I grope for my robe in the twilight.
The coffee makes itself and I carry the pot upstairs to a small desk in my office. There’s a photo of my Papaw there alongside a tiger eye cat, a pack of Marlboro reds, and a coffee mug. I pour some coffee in the mug and make space for him in my psyche.
If I need advice, I’ll light a cigarette of my own and allow the smoke to fill the space while placing his on the desk. This ritual creates a clear path to wherever it has taken me before — in this case, to the underworld where the ancestors reside.
What is Sacred Space, Really?
I personally define sacred space as a sensory roadmap to my inner world. Where am I trying to go? Who am I trying to see? What am I trying to accomplish?
At my ancestral altar, I recreate the experience of sitting with my Papaw when he was here in the physical. Maybe he would even appreciate a splash of Old Spice as part of my offering.
An altar that has a completely different purpose will look and feel completely different. Perhaps you’re trying to tap into a deity instead of an ancestor. The same applies for an altar tied to a goal or mindset.
Regardless of the details, I create sacred space using the following three considerations:
- The Boundary
- The Senses
- The Symbols
1. Create Sacred Space by Creating a Boundary
The primary purpose of sacred space is to represent our mental and spiritual boundaries (or the creation or destruction of those boundaries) in the physical reality. This gives us a way to interact with those invisible boundaries using our conscious mind.
For example, if “other people’s stuff” is overflowing into your space in the physical, then it’s probably also overflowing into mental or spiritual space as well. This is especially important if we live or work in smaller spaces. Create a space that is distinctly yours and yours alone — even if it’s only a tiny shelf on a wall or a raised area on your desk or nightstand.
2. Create Sacred Space by Appealing to the Senses
The mental and spiritual realms manifest into the physical realm through the five senses. We can use this knowledge to create a sensory support for our psychospiritual workings.
I like to use this focus to provide extra support on areas where I’m lacking. My focus on bath rituals stems from feeling chronically disconnected from my body due to trauma. Anything that encourages body awareness is a big win.
Surround yourself with sights, sounds, textures, flavors, and smells that inspire the mental and spiritual conditions you want to create.
3. Create Sacred Space by Incorporating Symbolism
This step comes in both personal and collective flavors. The unconscious mind speaks a language of broad symbols.
There are a number of references available to find cultural and universal symbols but never underestimate the value of your own personal symbolism. If a symbol means something to you but doesn’t match its collective definition, your personal definition overrules everything in the context of your personal work.
If you have sacred spaces you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to see them on Instagram! Tag @eastforksoapwitch.