Not everybody has a spare room to dedicate to spiritual pursuits. For most of us, a spiritual space is an area that we can assemble and take down in a short space of time. Modern life often dictates that these spaces are in the living room or bedroom during the night or early morning, when the daily chaos has been put to bed and we finally find ourselves with some quiet time!
For some, even leaving an alter on display is questionable. Despite the freedom to practice, it is often family, friends and those closest to us that may frown on our beliefs so being discreet during our rituals, practices and routines is carefully considered.
A spiritual space is an area where we are comfortable connecting to a different realm, where we can focus on our work, rituals, meditate or simply be. It does not have to be an elaborate temple nor a garden with a breathtaking view but it should provoke our senses towards the divine.
1. Select and Keep a space
In selecting a space, pick one that is away from noise and where you are most likely to be undisturbed. It should at the same time be comfortable and safe. Bedrooms, living rooms and spare rooms are all perfectly fine and can quickly be transformed into a spiritual space. You may want to consider where you place your alter or what directions if any you need to face. If you are casting a circle, there should be space to work within, even a circle 4-6 feet in diameter can work. Move furniture out of the way.
You may wish to lock the door to ensure privacy and be aware of any shadows you cast on curtains!
No matter what place you pick to carry out your rituals or practice, stick with it. Although it is not necessarily a bad thing to move around, being familiar and comfortable with your space aids in settling the mind towards rituals and meditation.
2. Follow a routine
Preparing the space for your ritual or work serves two purposes – it helps direct and focus our minds and secondly, clears the space of negative energy.
Indoors, you may wish to hoover or sweep your space. As you work, imagine sweeping away all the negative energies. Dusting, washing and cleaning any worktops or tables in use while repeating a mantra will help clean the space and have it fresh and positive for your practice.
If you are blessed with a garden or outdoor space, the same applies. Cut the grass, prune the shrubs, clear the ground of any jagged stones or twigs. As you do, be aware of cleaning the space of negative energies and preparing it for your work.
This work does not have to take long. A few minutes spent sweeping the floor will suffice – it is the focus and the mental imagery of negative emotions, daily worries and life’s problems being swept away that is the important aspect.
3. Dress the space
It is amazing the way a small amount of dressing a space can transform it into something spiritual and magical. Cushions, special carpets, screens, curtains and small tables to serve as alters are all easy and practical ways to transform your living room into a sacred circle! Many people use fabrics with spiritual patterns and symbols. These can be found at specialist drapery shops or search online. You may come across material with the sun or moon on it by chance.
Creating a simple tent for meditation is a great way of ‘cutting off’ the outside world and allowing us to be alone with our thoughts. The cloaks monks wore with hoods often served the same purpose – blotting out distractions and keeping the monk focused on his work.
Dressing the space also means dressing yourself. Wear loose fitting clothes that are comfortable and warm. A special piece of clothing such as cloaks or capes help to direct our energies and lend a special feel to our work.
If the floor permits, you may be able to chalk a circle outline. If not, a circle can be drawn on a bedsheet and placed on the floor during ritual work.
Using plants, flowers and herbs is a great way to enhance the natural aspect of a sacred space if you are stuck indoors. What masquerades as the corner plant during the day can quickly become the alter plant at night. Flowers and herbs can be used in rituals and the scent of plants will help to evoke the connection to nature.
4. Have a case with your items within.
There is nothing more disruptive than searching the house to find what you did with that purple candle, where you left the statue of Brighid, what happened the incense or finding that you have run out of matches.
Keep all your items in a case (a small suitcase or chest is ideal) so that you can quickly arrange them in their spots. You will find that each object will find its natural place in your room so that your incense may be placed to the east, a candle to the south, water to the west, earth to the north etc. Having all the items to hand avoids loss of concentration and allows for work to begin more quickly.
Regularly go through your case to sort out items and have to hand what you actually need. When it is time to set up your spiritual space, it is not time to wonder which objects you should be using – this is work that is best done beforehand so as not to interrupt your focus.
5. Use objects to transform the space
The use of objects (and clothing) has long been part of religious and spiritual tradition and with good reason – their use evokes our subconscious, their repeated use prompts the mind to settle quickly and directs our attention to the work at hand. Religions such as Catholicism understand this well, churches and masses being designed to focus the mind of lay people on the purpose of the mass and turn their minds to a higher cause.
Candles, incense, statues, crystals, offerings and alter items will transform a living room to a holy temple of peace. Some people prefer elaborate alters with as many items as possible decorating the sacred space. Others prefer simplicity, the lone light of a candle being the sole focus of their attention. Whichever your prefer, aim to be able to set up your sacred space with five minutes.
Dim the lights if you can while soft music in the background is also an option. Ensure to turn off the cell phone and unplug the landline! Even televisions, radios and computers should be unplugged lest they interrupt your focus with blinking lights or cooling fans.
An alter can be a simple affair. The fireplace mantelpiece is commonly used or small tables or boxes can be utilised, draped with a special alter cloth.
Incense helps to transport us to a different and more relaxing place via the associations we attribute to it. Experiment with different scents to find one that you prefer. Candles should be placed where they are not a fire hazard and one can be as effective as ten.
There are no hard and fast rules to creating a sacred space. What matters is that we feel at peace in them, that our attention is focused solely on our upcoming work. All the objects and items we use to make this space serve only in aiding us to concentrate and move us away from the daily conversations that take place within us. What works for one person, will be a distraction for the next. In making your spiritual or sacred space, do what feels natural and right for you. If you follow that advice, the space you make will be the best one you will ever experience.