Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sacred Space, Sacred Place

Sacred Space, Sacred Place

Carolyn Donnelly

Many are realizing the benefits of a sacred space as a place for spiritual development and peace. Setting aside a special place in our homes to meditate, relax and connect with our higher selves helps us to include spiritual development into our daily lives while balancing the demands of everyday living.

What is a sacred space?

A sacred space is a place to which we can retreat for peace, awareness and spiritual development. A sacred space provides us with a place where the energy and atmosphere are conducive to achieving a very peaceful and relaxed state as required for meditation. A sacred space can be as small as a home altar or as large as an entire room, a garden or even a purpose built temple.

A sacred space is not about religion. It is a spiritual place that reflects who you are spiritually, whether you are a devout follower of a particular religion, an atheist
or agnostic. How you use your sacred space will also reflect your spiritual self. For many it will be a place of meditation and contemplation. For others it may be a place of worship, or to practice their beliefs in ritual. It may a combination of both.

Locating Your Sacred Space

The energy of a place builds up over time. An area takes on the energy of the events, feelings and thoughts that have occurred there. Over time, this energy can become strong if the same activities and feelings are repeated. A room, place or space where only meditation, spiritual practice and peaceful activities take place will become a place of peace. The calming energy will influence the way you feel when you enter that place and relaxation will come more easily to you. This, I believe, is an important aim of a sacred place.

Although, in some spiritual practices, the home altar is traditionally located in the main living area of the house, I believe, that in our modern world, a sacred space will serve you better if it is located away from the main living and utility areas of the house. This will give you an opportunity to create the desired energy for your sacred space without the influence from the buziness of your daily affairs.

Decorating Your Sacred Space

The decorations chosen for a sacred space will be a unique mixture of pictures, furniture, ornaments, cloth, cushions, color and whatever else appeals to you and others who use this special place. The important thing is that the decoration of a sacred space resonates with you and your belief system.

Symbols and Deities

To increase a sense of inner peace and harmony, a sacred place is often decorated with emblems and symbols of beauty, peace, happiness and spirituality. The symbols that you choose to display will depend upon your own personal preference and belief system. Deities are a common way of representing religious beliefs or associations. Many people demonstrate their religious tolerance by displaying deities from a number religions and belief systems. The deity on your altar and displayed in your sacred space represents the values that you hold dearest and those you wish to embody. For instance the Hindu God Ganesh is said to have overcome great obstacles and therefore embodies this trait. Whether you are Hindu or not, you may identify with the values that Ganesh represents.

Symbols are a powerful representation of spirituality and values. Spiritual symbols such as Om, Mandalas, Crucifix, the Pentacle, Greenman and Triple Moon are popular for altar decoration whether it be as an ornament, a picture on the wall, a decorative cloth that drapes the altar, or on an altar tile.

However, it is not necessary for you to identify with a specific religion to have an altar. For many who just want to celebrate life and the earth, statues of their favorite animals or pictures of amazing places on earth such as a remote beach with bright white sand and cobalt blue sky or a rainforest with huge old growth trees with buttress roots may be their symbol of beauty and harmony.


Crystals and gemstones enhance your special place with their beauty and energy. Placed in your sacred place, crystals influence the energy around them with the special values that they embody. They are also beneficial when used in meditation and in healing. There are hundreds of crystals and gemstones to choose from. Some popular stones include:

Rose quartz - love, self acceptance, empathy, compassion, peaceful relationships

Clear quartz - spiritual and psychic development, powerful healing and meditation stone

Amethyst - dispelling anger and fear, creating peace

Moonstone - nurturing, soothing emotions, intuition, balance and introspection


Color may be an important consideration for your sacred space. Each color of the spectrum brings with it particular values and feelings that will influence the energy of your special place. For instance yellow is a good color for concentration, perception and joy. Blue is the color for quiet contemplation, wisdom and honesty. Pink represents love, compassion and receptivity. White represents faith, tranquility, harmony and peace. Purple represents selflessness, dignity, vision and universal conscience. Red is a warm and vibrant color that is cheerful and dynamic. However, if you are sensitive to red, it may be difficult to relax in a room full of this color.

Any one color on its own can be overbearing. Even white can be clinical and harsh if there is too much of it. Light colors tend to provide a more uplifting atmosphere than dark colors. Too much dark color can be dampening and depressive. A theme of two or three main colors that harmonize will be the most tranquil.


To achieve a calming atmosphere it is best to avoid too much 'visual buziness'. Your sacred space will function best if it is simply furnished and decorated and easy to maintain. A high maintenance sacred place will increase the opportunity for stress. Also, it will be easier to empty your mind of the chatter and noise if your surroundings are clear and simple.

Scent for Ambience and Magic

Scent will have a great impact on how you feel in your special place. Burning incense or warming essential oils of your favorite scent will increase the value of your experience, whether you a performing a ritual, meditating or just reading a book. Scents can be used for purification purposes at the beginning of your spiritual practice. They can also have a powerful impact on your mood and you can use this quality of scent to achieve special purposes such as calming, increasing vitality and energizing, focusing and increasing concentration.

However, scents are said to have powers that go beyond just mood enhancement and have been used in spiritual ceremonies for thousands of years for such purposes as creating luck, prosperity, protection, love and spiritual development.

Fresh flowers are also added to an altar or sacred space for their scent, color, beauty and freshness. The presence of plants, whether it be in the sacred garden or as a pot plant in an internal sacred space, will provide oxygen, freshening and improving the atmosphere.


Certain sound frequencies and vibration are of benefit for cleansing, calming, energizing, revitalizing, healing and raising the vibrational energy of your sacred space. As with scent, the sounds you select will depend upon the activity you are performing and your particular preference. A cleansing Om will purify the energy in a room and raise the vibration. Repetitive sounds such as mantras, chants and drumming increase the vibrational energy. Ringing a bell is traditional for at the beginning of many spiritual practices. In Wicca, the bell is rung at the start of a ritual to invoke the Goddess. A small decorative bell is often a standard item on an altar.

Instinctively, we know what sounds or music to play to best serve our needs at any particular time. A CD player and a selection of music and guided meditations will come in handy in your sacred space. At times you may just like to enjoy the silence, if you are lucky enough to have this choice. If you have a sacred garden or a room that opens out onto a natural setting, listening to the sounds of the birds, the breeze through the trees, crickets and other natural sounds provides the ultimate music for relaxation.


A lamp or lantern that emits a soft glow will provide a relaxing atmosphere for meditation, relaxation and rituals. Salt lamps provide a soft warm light and have the added benefit of ionizing the atmosphere, increasing your ability to concentrate and your general feeling of wellbeing. If you or another member of the family suffers from asthma, salt lamps are a much better choice than candles as they improve the atmosphere by adding negative ions. The smoke produced from candles could affect someone with breathing difficulties. Salt lamps are also much safer than lighting candles.

However, candlelight is the ultimate mood stimulator. It is difficult to replace the candle for its ability to create instant mysticism. The flickering flame is mesmerizing and can be a good focus for meditation. Candle lamps and lanterns also provide a sensual and peaceful atmosphere and have the added benefit of being hang able.

Candles and Ceremony

Candles are also a very important aspect of most spiritual practice. White candles have been of particular importance in religious and other ceremonies as they represent peace and purity. Colored candles have particular meanings also. The standard colors of red, yellow, blue, green and white represent the elements of fire, air, water, earth and spirit. Each candle color is also representative of the values associated with that color. For instance red is for vitality and motivation, yellow is for intellectual ability and acquiring knowledge, green is for wealth and abundance of material things.

The number of candle ceremonies is almost endless. Here is a simple ceremony that can assist you to reach your dreams and goals.

Choose the colored candle that best fits your purpose and your affirmation. You may have an affirmation for each area of your life and therefore you will have a range of colored candles. Say, for instance, you have exams coming up and it is important for you to achieve a good result.

- Write an affirmation. Example: 'I have excellent recall of all that I have learnt in the subject and I am able to express this information accurately and comprehensively.'

- Ensure that you are totally relaxed. Meditating prior to a ceremony will clear your mind and increase your connection to the higher realms.

- Create ambience in your sacred space - low light and soft music or Om in the background.

- Light a white a candle first and ask that the spirit be present as well any other entity that has meaning for you.

- Light the yellow candle and introduce your affirmation by stating your intention.

- Read your affirmation and visualize yourself in your exam confidently completing each question of the exam. The more detail you can imagine the better.

- On completion, thank the spirit for all that you already have in regards to your studies such as opportunity for an education, a healthy mind and healthy body, intelligence, the wealth that has enabled you to undertake study and anything else that is relevant.

- Extinguish the yellow candle and then the white candle.

A sacred space is a special place for awareness and connection of the mind, the body and the spirit. Your sacred space includes elements that influence each of your senses to encourage peace, harmony and spiritual awareness. It is a place to reflect you, your tastes and your beliefs. In our modern, busy lives, our sacred space provides a retreat where you can quiet your mind and connect with the higher realms - your own sacred temple.


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