that girl put a spell on me

Creating sacred space -- tips, tricks, and ideas


create sacred space
What makes a space sacred? Stained glass and incense? Thousands of candles and fancy tools? Bronze memorial markers and massive statues?

For some people, any of those may mark a space as sacred. For others, those items may be part of the space, but are mere decoration. What actually makes the space sacred is a feeling inside each person that recognizes the place as not quite 'of this world' and outside the realm of the mundane. The actual space may be a grove, a ring of standing stones, a church, a temple -- it's up to each person to recognize that the space is sacred.

Circles, groves, and shrines

Most magickal people feel the need to have their own sacred space to perform their rituals, to meditate, even simply to worship. A sacred space can be indoors, outdoors, a whole room, a quiet corner, or even just a shelf; it depends on what one has available and one's preferences. Except for those in the broom closet, most people prefer to have their space available and set up at all times as a permanent consecrated space. Those who live with less tolerant or understanding others will often choose a small space or simply set things up as needed.

Those fortunate to have limitless space may have one or more of the following:

Designing your space

Once you have decided what kind of space you want (or have room for), you can begin with the most basic thing: declutter the area. This is one of the most important aspects of creating sacred space. Set up boxes for trash, donations, etc then sort all the clutter into those boxes. Put anything that is staying away immediately, and deal with anything that needs to go as soon as possible. In the mean time, physically clean the now-decluttered area: dust, sweep, and vacuum.

Once your designated space is clean, it's time for the fun part: decorating. You can make the space as fancy, plain, or elegant as you wish. Keep in mind that these are just suggestions; arrange your space to suit your needs. Don't be afraid to get creative.

If you are not public with your beliefs, a collapsible space might best suit your needs. Think small and portable. A thimble can serve as a cup, a nail makes a great athame substitute, a twig can be your wand, a coin makes a fine pentacle, and a handkerchief will work nicely as an altar cloth. Add in a crystal or two, a vial of salt, a vial of water, some birthday-size candles, and a couple of matches. Tuck all that into a pouch, and you have a full altar that can be set up virtually anywhere. However, almost anyone should be able to add a few magickal touches around the house. A starry mobile, a few crystals on a bookshelf, or some homemade potpourri in a basket can make all the difference.

For the Office Witch, 'discreet' is the key to designing a sacred space. A miniature representation of Stonehenge on your desk is certain to draw some strange looks. On the other hand, you will receive few complaints about a couple of crystals, a small God or Goddess image, and a pot of your favourite herb. Candles and incense in the workplace are probably a no-no, but a small basket of potpourri can work wonders for clearing the negativity from that last meeting.

sea shrine If you have space in your house for a shrine, research the likes and dislikes of your Gods, saints, and/or ancestors. Most widely-worshipped higher powers have their associated herbs, animals, colours, etc., so use those as a starting point for your shrine if you can. If your devotion is toward a lesser-known higher power, I suggest a direct petition for guidance as to what to include. For example, in my sea shrine, the main colour is teal (bluish-green). I have several shells in use to display crystals and smaller shells, some statuary, and a reed diffuser for scent. Since the shrine is contained in an antique desk, I can open the front of the desk to use as an altar, with the desk drawers being used for any consecrated items that are not 'in use' at the moment.

For those fortunate enough to have acreage, consider planting a garden to create an outdoor sacred space. Depending on your inclinations, some type of theme garden (a moon garden, a faery garden, a plain herb garden, perhaps) may be what you are looking for. Even just outlining a flat area with some stones or pavers can make that spot the perfect place to hold a ritual. Anything more you can add will only make the place more magickal.

Further reading

You might also enjoy this book:

Circles, Groves and Sanctuaries Circles, Groves and Sanctuaries by Dan and Pauline Campanelli (Llewellyn Publications, 1991): While it is a bit dated, there is a lot of inspiration in seeing the photos and descriptions of everyone's sacred spaces. I find it helpful to know what other people do when they don't have the acreage to build huge outdoor shrines.

These books can be difficult to find since many are out of print. Some great places to buy used books online include:

Tealmermaid's Treasure Grotto