Creating sacred space in your home or garden signals that self-care – deep soul care – is a priority for you.
A well-designed sacred space – whether it is a dedicated garden, room, or home altar on a windowsill – creates a physical connection to the land and is a tangible reminder of what gives meaning to your life journey. "Sacred space is as simple as making meaning,” write Michael Samuels and Mary Rockwood Lane in Creative Healing, “Sacredness comes from the meaning of your life story... make a space and a time that is full of meaning to you. The space you carve out of your life is the space where magic will happen, the place where you will be healed, grow and change.” When you enter your sacred space, you send a signal to your mind, body, heart and soul that you are ready to tune out the noise of ordinary life and tune into meaning. Your sacred space sets boundaries, grounds intentions, and supports you to generate meaningful action and cultivate genuine relationships every day.
Here are Five Tips for creating sacred space at home:
Tip #1: Where intention goes, energy flows.
Begin by setting your intention for your sacred space. Are you creating a private sanctuary or a shared space for community prayer and meditation? How do you want your sacred space to support you? Do you want it to be inspiring, motivating, energizing, calming, grounding, or something else? Before you begin, take time to write out your intention for the space and how you would like to use it.
Tip #2: Make it clear and simple.
Simplicity is key. Choose a place in your home or garden where you will not be tempted with distractions. Make sure your space is clean, clear and uncluttered. This is your place of peaceful self-care, so avoid high traffic areas and transition rooms in the house or garden. Remove mobile devices and electronics, and do not work or have a home office where you create your sacred space. Once you’ve physically cleared your space, consider ritually clearing it as well by ringing a bell or chime, drumming, singing, chanting, burning sage, or using any element you choose. Bring into the space only a few basic furniture elements: a chair, cushion, or mat to sit on, a soft light, and a blanket to stay cozy. Choose colors that support your intention and create a comfortable ambiance based on your personal preferences. White or pastel colors enhance light and clarity, and dark, earth tones support going inward.
Tip #3: Home is where the heart is.
Select for your sacred space items that support your intention and remind you of what you love. Personal items that are meaningful to you might include: a painting, collage, statue of protective symbols, favorite poem, sacred texts or words of wisdom, bells or musical instruments, ritual objects, images of your Spirit animal, a talisman symbolizing your intention for your space, photographs of loved ones, a candle, incense, personal divination tools such as runes or oracle cards, and a journal specifically designated for your sacred practice.
Tip #4: Make an Earth connection.
If your sacred space is in a garden, then you will naturally feed your connection with Earth. In Earth Calling, authors Carter and Gunther recommend having a dawn and sunset practice outside “in which you pay homage to your life, the air you breathe into your lungs, and the earth that sustains you.” In your home, bring in a connection with the earth by adding natural elements to your sacred space, such as plants, stones, shells, fresh flowers, and water. Include objects or images from places of pilgrimage and special places that you have known. Add a photograph of your favorite tree, mountain peak, lake, river, seashore, or any place where you have felt your connection with nature. Every home, garden, or room has a point that resonates with the sacred energies of the land. Calen Rayne has named it the Genesis Point. It is from this point, he explains in his Genesis Point Training, that information and energy stream in and increase the transformational potential of a space.
Tip #5: Make room to grow.
Use your intuition to gauge the energy of your sacred space, changing it with the seasons, special occasions, or to honor changes in your life. From time to time, review your intention for the space and update objects in it as life changes and you evolve. Make sure your sacred space is still supporting your intention, and if not, step back and look at what needs to be cleared or simplified in your space and in your spiritual practice. Asheville-based Feng Shui Consultant Jini Rayne suggests that you honor any changes you make in your space with ritual. Simply sounding a bell, lighting a candle, or saying a prayer will help you to reset your space and intention.
I recently stumbled across a scholarly article entitled The Poetics of Concealment, by Samir Akkach, which articulates an idea that has really struck a cord with me in my work. We attribute great significance to the architecture erected over sacred sites. The narrative about such sites is often centered on the building's historical origin and the original intent of its builders, or what we suppose it to be. The building is often the central focus of our attention when visiting great monuments, whether at an actively used temple such as a gothic cathedral in France, or the ruins of an ancient holy city such Machu Picchu in Peru. In part, our fascination can be attributed to the architectural mastery of the builders, and the fact that we humans naturally gravitate toward imposing structures and symbols of power.
Yet most of these monuments simultaneously reveal and conceal the sacred. The monument itself reveals the site to be significant while at the same time containing, concealing or covering that which is significant about it. The story we are often told at a temple is about how and why the men (usually men) envisioned and built the temple, implying that only when the temple was consecrated (made or declared sacred) does the rest follow suit.
But what if we turn this around and view the temple not as the focus of the narrative, but as one part of the full narrative of the sacred sacred site? In other words, the site is sacred in its origin, and the building is something acquired by that already sacred site. This removes architecture from the center of the narrative, and with it the importance of who built it and why. This frees our attention and shifts us out of the head, away from facts, and into our experience in the presence of the sacred. This is when we shift from traveler to pilgrim.
Akkach writes about one particular sacred site, the Dome of the Rock, but I believe this premise applies to many more sacred places. Akkach describes it: "At this point, it no longer matters what the original intent was, or who the author was, for the Rock seems to have its own ulterior motives that are independent of the consciousness of human agents. This inversion gives primacy to the sacred and its hierophantic acts and objects over human intentionality and architectural intervention."
When we travel to sacred places, it's easy to get caught up in the photos, the facts, and the materiality of the place as the central focus of our visit. This is natural, because we have physically journeyed to be physically present in this physical structure. At times I've heard people say, "I don't feel anything." At these moments, it helps to remember that the sacred is always veiled, and must be, as we would find it nearly impossible to behold in its unveiled manifestation. “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things,” said Henry Miller. And likewise Akkach so eloquently suggests that the challenge "seems to lie in one’s ability to see beyond the materiality of both the Rock and its beautiful architectural veil, to comprehend the enduring secrets that lie deep beneath the transience and ephemerality of both architecture and history."
To "see beyond the materiality" is part of being a pilgrim. This resonates with me and why I find it so meaningful to go beyond history and explore the myths and legends of the places I visit. Every myth contains a bit of truth, but the very nature of myth is to be a narrative that draws the imagination "deep beneath the transience and ephemerality of both architecture and history." By letting ourselves be drawn into the mythical realm, we may briefly get past the veils of materiality. For as Fernando Pessoa put it, "Myth is the nothing that is everything."
This very simple exercise is particularly effective if you have a drawing or photograph of a labyrinth, or if you're lucky enough to live close by a labyrinth. Do this visualization with the labyrinth design in front of you, or while in the center of the labyrinth. Any labyrinth design will do, as long as it is a unicursal path, not a maze. You are welcome to download and print the labyrinth patterns linked below.
Meditation: Visualize a labyrinth of Light with you at the center. Don't worry about getting the image exact; close is good enough. Visualize an indigo flame burning brightly and largely on the outside edge of the entire labyrinth, as if the circle containing the spiral path is engulfed in indigo flames. Try to maintain this image and your presence in it for about ten minutes or longer.
This simple exercise brings you into resonance with the labyrinth as a circle of Light, and the light going in all directions flowing into the places around you like water bubbling up from a spring.
Click here to download a pdf of printable labyrinths.
This mediation was written by Richard Leviton and is found in his book The Geomantic Year: A Calendar of Earth-Focused Festivals that Align the Planet with the Galaxy.