Altars and Sacred Spaces

What is a sacred space?

A sacred place is first of all, a defined place, a space distinguished from other spaces. The rituals that a people either practice at a place or direct toward it mark its sacredness and differentiate it from other defined spaces. To understand the character of such places, Jonathan Z. Smith has suggested the helpful metaphor of sacred space as a “focusing lens.” A sacred place focuses attention on the forms, objects, and actions in it and reveals them as bearers of religious meaning. These symbols describe the fundamental constituents of reality as a religious community perceives them, defines a life in accordance with that view, and provides a means of access between the human world and divine realities.  http://www.encyclopedia.com/article-1G2-3424502693/sacred-space.html

Where is your sacred space?  It is a room in your house, an area in a corner or along a wall?  Is it a space outside in nature, in your garden, or is it in your heart? Each of us creates a space that belongs only to us.  We may share it with others as in family or couples situations or we have it private, but the space is more than just a physical location.  The concept of a sacred space is a spiritual one, and when we enter into that space we stand there alone, in solitary contemplation that belongs to us and to us alone.  It is where we connect with the divine, with spirit, with those who have passed on before us and await our reunion.

For me, my home, as well as the property, on a bigger scale are sanctuaries for me; a sacred space in a larger sense. They are oasis in the desert away from all else in the world.  As I enter into the threshold of the boundary lines of the ranch that I live in, I can feel the world begin to wash away from me. I begin to ease into myself more and let my guard down a bit.  This is where I am loved and protected.  As I move from the property closer into my specific home, there are several on the property, I am again received into another level of sacredness.  My entire being is at peace as I walk through my front door.  This is as a whole a sacred space for me, free of abuses and violence of the world.  It is where my heart resides, my dog thrives and my spirit soars.  Yet there is even another level within the walls that is even more intimate in my relationship with spirit, and that is my altar.

An altar is a structure, platform, or place a person consecrates him/herself to someone or something and on which offerings are made to spiritual deities, guides, spirits, or other figures of a divine nature.  It is also a place to honor loved ones or for personal worship and visible reminders of faith.  It is about surrendering yourself to a higher self, power, or divine force, what ever your belief.

For me, this is my personal touchstone with the divine. It is filled with totems of guides, feathers for healing and specific energies, symbols of pictures of loved ones, offerings to spirit, crystals, tools of my spiritual path, and other things that are significant for me.  I change my altar regularly, keeping the energies fresh and the space relevant to my changing life.

Additionally, I have smaller altars throughout my house.  I have a main one in my dining room on my hutch, and smaller ones by my desk, in the bathroom, and bedside.  I have a medium sized one in my bedroom on a dresser.  This one is my most personal.  I keep things there that I don’t want anyone else’s energy on.  It is filled with items that are meaningful on the deepest level for me.  I change this one to refresh it, but honestly, I tend to keep it very similar. I clear and recharge the stones, refresh flowers, renew herbs or other things that are on it, but for the most part I like the order of things and the energy they produce. I can connect into the energy very quickly.

For me, I like to create an altar in an organic style that is that I don’t follow any rules about where things go and what goes on it; however there are other practices that have more strict rules about how to set up an altar.  I’ve included images at the bottom of this article, so that you can see the diagrams if that is your path.

In general, I keep many of my tools put away unless I am going to perform a ritual.  In that case, I will set a new altar to work from, but again for me, I don’t always set it up the same way or with the same tools on it.  I’m more of a believer of only get out what you need.  I have both a wand and an Athame, but I may only use one or none, in which case, I will only but one, or none out on my altar.  If I am going to work with a cauldron then I include that, but if not, I don’t bother with it.

In general, I follow the, “to each their own rule.”  It is more important in my eyes, to find a sacred space and maintain it within yourself. Not every one can risk having an open sacred space or altar for that matter, and that is okay too.  I have seen pocket altars made out of mint tins.  Even a single stone in your pocket can be an altar and help to “focus” you onto finding your inner sanctuary so that you can connect with your higher power and feel the oneness of communion with spirit.

2016 copyright by Katie Pifer available at http://www.witchpetals.wordpress.com

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