Thursday, August 18, 2011
Creating Sacred Space
Sacred space is the difference between somewhere that you could hold a ritual and somewhere that is worthy of your ritual.
The term "Sacred Space" can mean many things to may people and the methods for creating it can vary from tradition to tradition. Some religions will have temples or churches that are built and are sacred spaces unto themselves, and some Pagans will similarly have a temple set up in their house, if they are lucky. But for many Pagans the matter of creating Sacred Space involves doing so each time they hold a ritual.
Sacred Space is basically taking the area of your ritual and before you begin, marking it in some way in order to consecrate it to your purpose. This can be a simple symbolic act, perhaps involving a small dedication to the Gods, or it can be a significant part of the ritual itself, in which surrounding and personal energies are drawn together in order to align the space to your working.
The act of creating Sacred Space is common to a good majority of Pagan paths and they all have their own ways of doing it, which despite appearing different in their methods, remain extremely similar in their theory and intent. Here are a few examples:
Asatru: The most common method in Asatru for creating Sacred Space before a ritual is called "The Hammer Rite". This rite itself is a Neo-Pagan development, but believed by many to be based around the symbolism of Mjollnir, the hammer of Thor.
This rite usually involves a dual declaration, one towards the altar and one facing away from it (covering both directions of the ritual space), in which the person calls upon the hammer to sanctify the space. This is sometimes coupled with the striking of a hammer in each direction.
Kemeticism: In the Kemetic religion, the Sacred Space is created by purifying the Shrine (akin to the altar, here). This is done by physically cleaning the Shrine and the area around it and then touching each object on the Shrine with a mixture of water and Natron. Natron is a substance natural to Egypt, but can be made at home by combining baking soda and salt. As the objects are touched and cleansed, the Kemetic concentrates on making the area a place that is suitable for the Gods to visit.
Wicca: Ritual Sacred Space is created in Wicca through the casting of a Magic Circle. This is done by magically drawing in the energies that naturally surround the caster and projecting them into a protective circle. The area within this Circle will be the Sacred Space of the ritual. In addition to this, Wiccans call upon the services of supernatural beings of the Elements to act as guardians and observers at the four cardinal points of the Circle; North, East, South and West.
The building of the Circle is very much a ritual unto itself and as such forms a significant part of the greater ritual workings that will take place within it.
When we create Sacred Space we are seen to do so on multiple levels, cleansing the area on the physical plane and on the spiritual plane, while also clearing our own minds so that we may be better disposed towards what we are about to do. It is an act of purification and consecration, making the area worthy of our ritual and aligned towards it, while simultaneously doing the same to ourselves.