How to Set up a Sacred Space
Sacred space is a potent way to invite magic into our lives and to remind us of the depths hidden beneath the surface of everyday life. The gift of a sacred space is that you can set it up wherever you are. Even if you are not in your own home or at a regular spot, you can enter into this magical sphere to perform a purification chant or movement.
To create a powerful space for connection and transformation to enter, we need to carefully and lovingly craft both the inner and the outer elements: the physical and the emotional or mental.
Physical Sacred Space
By using items that have emotional value or esoteric meaning for us, we create a comforting or empowering atmosphere. Depending on the specific purpose of the space, you can use things like candles, crystals, carpets, blankets, pillows, and altar items. An altar configures your sacred objects in a way that bridges the inner and outer worlds.
- Honour the principle of the circle
The circle is a symbol of no ending and no corners, and so setting things up in a circular way reminds us of the qualities of eternal space. If you’re holding a group ritual, arranging the seating in a circle allows for a feeling of equality and encourages the energy to flow.
- Represent the 4 directions and the elements
This is a fundamental of magic practice in many traditions and simply involves placing an item – such as a candle or crystal – in each direction: North, East, South and West.
You can also honour the Earth Elements by marking each direction with an elemental object as follows:
- Feather for Air,
- Candles for Fire,
- Chalice or cup for Water,
- Stone, crystal or bark for Earth
Traditions differ on which element is present in which direction, so research which one is best for your purposes.
You can also choose one element that you feel is most ideal for your space.
At the Temple of Sacred Arts, we associate Deities with the Direction as follows:
- North: Isis/ Osiris
- East: Bast/ Ptha (or Sekhmet)
- South: Maat/Thoth
- West: Nephthys/Hathor
In this practice, we place items outside the circle on each direction to symbolise either or both of the deities. This is to honour them and to bring the values they specifically represent into the space.
The process of setting up physical sacred space doesn’t have to be complicated. Both simple and more detailed options hold equal power. Allow yourself to be guided by your own preferences and culture as you find your unique way of setting up the physical sacred space – this can be very empowering. For example, you might want to simply use pure rose quartz for your circle at home, but create a more elaborate set up when holding a circle for others.
- Include healthy food & drink
This is so that you can feel comfortable to stay in the circle for as long as you want. Avoid drugs or alcohol unless they form part of the act of ritual within the circle.
- Carefully manage transitions out of & into the space
If you need to leave the space for any reason, but still wish to go back, it’s better to keep interactions with others outside the space to the minimum.
Here is more inspiration on how to relate to your altar in ways that support your relationship with the mystical.
Mental/ Internal Sacred Space
Here, we are looking at ritual space holding rather than holding space to support someone with an emotional process, which is another art and practice.
The Mental or internal part of creating sacred space is about setting and holding the intention you want to imbue the space with. Perhaps your intention is relaxation or meditation. Or maybe you want to heal from a negative experience, send healing, love or prayer to others, or cleanse yourself or your home. Other times, you may be performing a ritual for others or a dance for the divine – a common practice here at the Temple. There is no wrong way of doing this as long as your intention is pure and honest.
Without an intention, however simple, this beautiful and vulnerable space can be hijacked by an outside force or by one’s own mind and ego-driven motives. In group rituals, we always have a space holder present purely to prevent this happening. This person will have the ability to clearly and openly hold a pure intention for the longest time.
Here are some things that can help with holding your intention:
- Chanting and meditation: this trains the spirit to silence the mind, which in turn will help you to hold the focus on your intention for longer.
- Connecting with nature herself by setting up outside is another effective way to support your intention setting and internal sacred space holding. The wisdom of trees and the healing flow of rivers can palpably remind us of the qualities we wish to call in and embody, even as they soothe our spirits and raise our vibration to a higher level.
The intention-holding part of the process demands a high level of self-control and discipline, which we help you to develop on our Priestess/Priest Apprenticeship Program. This course offers an innovative way of teaching that is also grounded in tradition and will empower, train and prepare you to embody your Priestess/Priest role. You can also start with the Novice Devotee program if you want to develop more experience before taking a Priestess path.