“Each place is the right place - the place where I now am can be a sacred space.” - Ravi Ravindra
When we plan a sacred event, perhaps a personal ritual or mediation time we often set the scene. We may light candles, choose certain statues, particular objects to represent the energies we are working with and offer up incense. We may call in the quarters, ask angelic help to be with us or ask our spirit guides for their contribution to our space and our work. We may even clothe ourselves in certain attire , or not at all as the case may be. These things focus our attention on the act to come. They set the scene within, not just externally. There is a shift in consciousness during the process of creating sacred space before entering it.
I love setting up sacred spaces and have been fortunate to be able to set up, and call in and hold the energies in sacred spaces at a number of large events. Recently I spent a few weeks researching and creating artwork to go into a Tribal Dream tipi space. I wanted those who entered within to feel somehow connected to all our ancestors, to see how their wisdoms and priorities are relevant to communities to day. So I careful chose each object and the placement of everything in that space. The altar itself evolved on my front room floor over a period of days as objects kind of found their way to it. When the space was eventually set up in a field and decorated, I went in, lit my sage smudge and candles. I walked the floor in a circle and drummed in the ancestors. I sat and I communed. I held the energies that I had called in for assistance in for a period of days before reversing the whole process at the end. It is right that I do it this way for something like this.
But it's not always this way ...
On Tuesday evening I went out with friends to an old burial barrow near where I live. My young man-child came with us to howl at the moon with the men folk. We walked out under the full moon each with different intentions for the evening. We spent some time together, chatting, before wandering our separate ways in the darkness. Some to meditate, some to moon gaze, some to play the flute and other instruments. Me ... I wandered off, barefoot amongst the bracken, with basket in hand containing, not quite the kitchen sink, but almost. I had come to ritually dedicate some new bowls and to do some scrying.
You see I had wanted some new Womb Blessings bowls for a while and with the Worldwide Womb Blessing the following day and UK Moon Mother Training coming up it was the perfect time to dedicate them for their purpose and then at the training have them blessed as part of another initiation. So last week I searched high and low over the internet looking for special bowls. In my head I had glass chalices, and if I could, a white one and a red one. Could I find what I was looking for? Could I heck!
Just before I was about to give up the words "sundae dishes" popped into my consciousness and there they were in front of me online ... in the house hold section of a large department store. I phoned up my local one, not ten minutes drive, and they were mine for a whopping £3 each, not like the expensive chalices I'd been envisioning, but actually perfect.
So there I sat, under the brightest of round bellied moons, unwrapping the bubble wrap and jiffy bags in a rather unceremonious way to reveal these two jewels to the night. I fumbled in the darkness for the incense and the lighter and resorted to using my mobile as a torch until I was sorted. In the end all was set and all was still. The air became dense and the dimensions shifted. I sat in sacred space under the tree looking at the moon ... and there I said my words and dedicated my holy pudding bowls!
So to the next day when I was up at 5:30 am for the 6 am blessing ... my little altar was beautiful, even if I do say so myself. The blessing energies came in strong and I was filled to the brim with peace and love, disappearing into the great stillness of the Divine Feminine.
In the afternoon me and my boy we went a-hunting. Chalybeate spring hunting. I had found on the map marked a holy well, Iron's Well, in a place we'd often wandered. After a bit of internet research I knew we had walked right by it several times without me realising what it was. Anyone who knows me knows I'm a bit passionate about honouring our sacred waters, the milk of Mother Earth flowing to quench our thirst and give nourishment to all her children. I hate the way most of our holy wells and sacred springs have been forgotten or deliberately blocked up or bought by companies with no soul. So off we went to offer our gratitude to this little iron filled water source at Eyeworth Pond. Th pond itself has not been there for so long really, but is a beautiful serene place with wonderful ducks and water lilies. I remember going there one winter as a child and watching the ducks skate frantically and comically on the ice as we fed them. The spring, that now feeds the pond, however is what gives it's name to Eyeworth and has been there much longer than the pond. The healing waters offered cures and restoration to those suffering with eye problems, mangy dogs and lepers from a nearby Lazar house.
Upon finding the spring, I was kind of glad that at least it was marked by the wooden square of railings, not ignored altogether. We offered our thanks, lit candles and incense. We braved the well hoofed squelchy mud and washed our faces in the waters. We even sampled the smidgen of a taste taken from source. Then I sat with the waters for while whilst my boy wandered off to the woods. The ponies came and drank, then a dragonfly visited and then, just before going woods ward too, I noticed a tiny red ribbon with gold stars tied to a holly hanging over the waters. That filled me with the utmost joy as I realised I wasn't the only one who has been to honour this spring in recent months and recognised this as a sacred space.
We wandered the woods for an age, meandering from ancient oak to magnificent beech. We scrutinised last years fungi and discarded feathers. We found a staff each and wandered through doorways to new worlds. Then we came upon a fabulous den built into a fallen yew. Time just passed and when I first looked at it it was 5:50 and I realised there was no way I was getting back home in time for the 6pm blessing.
So with minutes to spare I headed for a patch of sunshine, the evening rays shining through the trees. I borrowed my son's blanket rug from his rucksack, he also goes everywhere, prepared for impromptu picnics and forest lounging, and rummaged in my, ever present on rambles, medicine bag for the candle, incense and goddess stone. I created a little altar with the Light of the Blessing and only had my water bottle for the Living Waters of the Womb Grail. I opened sacred space with a little seed shaker that also lives in my magick bag and lifted my voice in song. At home I would have had my other accoutrements for channelling the energies as Moon Mother to the women of the world, but out in the forest I only had my hands. I sat in blessing between three yews, joining Miranda and many other Moon Mothers. It was powerful and beautiful. My special sundae dishes a distant dream. With the stillness and beauty of Mother Nature containing me, I was blissfully aware yet untroubled by my son banging loads of wood around as he continued to modify the woodland den and I hardly noticed the mossies attacking my bare feet, although I'm noticing the twenty odd bites now!
So there you have it four sacred spaces in twenty four hours. All completely different. One a bit fumbly and clanky in the in the moon light. Apparently a couple of the others out in the darkness somewhere near me could hear as I nearly dropped my silver metal moon dish and tried quietly, unsuccessfully, not to clink the glass bowls. One carefully planned, all laid out with precision and colour co ordination. One a bit ad hoc and muddy. And one that was rather impromptu, hastily cobbled together, complete with plastic bottle, because of a time deadline.
I've always known that all the fancy frippery in the world does not a sacred space make. Wonderful as it is to have special objects and the most gorgeous goddess statues and the like, I know that's not it. It is the intention that makes it. Most indigenous shaman will put stones, bones and feathers on the altar of bare earth. Sometimes an old, not so clean, definitely not ironed, cloth down first. One of the most powerful and memorable ceremonies for me was the final day of a years worth of Inkan shamanic and mesa training, and after receiving the last of the Munay Ki rites I sat with my dear teacher on a large rock in a stream in a very sacred place and pulled, with my eyes closed, my pi stone out of a bag.
The pi stone is the stone that an Inkan paco, or shaman-priest, uses to give the rites to another. A most sacred moment indeed. The blessed bag I had to dip my hand into ... a supermarket carrier bag! It was what my teacher had grabbed to put the pi stones into before filling the car with everything else and driving all her students to West Kennet Long Barrow. It was perfect. You make do, always with what you have to hand. And as I pulled my pi stone from that crinkly, white, blue and red wonder, I could only hug my teacher, my spiritual mother, for a long, long time. My stone, very different from the others in the bag, is of spider agate, rich in earthy tones that encapsulated strangely the place in which we sat. On the smooth surface there is the colour of the pale rock, the red of the clay earth, the green of the nettles and even a tiny white fish that seems to indicate the river. I will never forget that moment, with all the weight of the universe behind it, and I smile to think of the humble lesson of the Tesco bag.
So ... getting it rite then. It's always always about the intention you hold not the material objects you have. The sacred space is where you are. You carry it inside you. The sacred space is you. You need drums, you have your hands. You need music, you have your voice. You need silence, then be it. Everything else is, just as it is. Whether planned or on the spur of the moment, wonderful. What ever you intend an object to represent, so be it. What ever you have around you is always perfect.