In ancient cultures and in many traditional cultures today every home had or has a sacred area. Sacred areas can be as small as a shelf on which you might find an altar comprised of some fruit, a picture or two of ancestors and a candle, or they can occupy entire rooms, lavishly decorated or sparsely furnished, where people can go to be still and contemplate.
In some ways, sacred spaces are visual reminders of what is sacred in our lives. The things that we use to make them up all have symbolic value – candles represent the element of fire and also carry the literal meaning of light, for example. Pictures or photographs of ancestors are there to honour individuals but are also reminders of the importance of family or our connectedness to others. One of the things I most treasure is a small, glass Madonna that belonged to my mother who had it on an alter in our home for as long as I can remember. I can’t see it without hearing her voice uttering a quick prayer of entreaty or thanks to it.
In reality there isn’t a part of our lives that isn’t sacred, but carving out a sacred space or making an altar can be a really good way of helping us connect with the divine within us. It can help us switch gears. When we come home from a busy day, lighting a candle on our altar or spending a few moments in silent contemplation before it allows us to draw a line between the demands of the outside world and our inner peace.
So here’s how to make your own sacred space
1/Pick an area. It doesn’t matter whether it’s big or small, although of course the size available to you will influence what you can have there or do with it!
2/Clear the energy – smudge it, clap your hands or make a Tibetan bowl sing.
3/Decorate it with whatever is important to you. You can use candles (always take care that nothing is hanging down where it might catch alight in the flames and never go out or to bed without making sure they are extinguished!), crystals, images or statues of deities. It’s also lovely to use things from nature – pieces of wood or stone that you’ve found on walks, for example, or a small vase of flowers that you’ve picked. Using seasonal fruit is something you’ll find in many religions, such as Paganism or Buddhism. Remember it’s all about helping you focus on what’s important and sacred within your life, so there’s no reason why you can’t get modern with photographs and spiritual music you can listen to at the touch of a switch!
4/Evoke its power by developing your own rituals. They might be daily or weekly, something you do around the waxing and waning of the moon or even around important dates in the calendar. It can be as simple as lighting a candle or sitting in quiet meditation before it or something much longer involving song, you writing out a few intentions for the coming period and tucking them in strategic places and ending with clapping your hands.
5/Keep it alive. There are some things that you will want to keep constant, and others that you will want to refresh. If you are using fruit or flowers, always make sure they are replaced or removed before they start going on the turn. As you grow and change, what is precious to you may also grow and change, so make sure that your altar reflects who you are on your journey.
Loads of love,
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