I long for the day when I will be guardian of a bit of land again. Guardian because, of course, one does not own land. I feel that land, especially forested or wild lands, are entrusted to our care by the Elder Kin.
I think about this piece of land often. I see it shaded by mature trees, holding a little meadow, chased around by a burbling stream, hiding a secret sacred glade. I will know it when I find it. It will call to me.
Alas, I am not there yet. It may be a number of years before I am there at last. I don’t mind living in the town where I live but I do mind not having the access to a sacred glade, a place to walk and talk to the elders or just sit and meditate. A place that will remain undisturbed by outsiders.
A long time ago I began to create my inner sacred space. It’s now a kind of new-agey catch-phrase to “go to your happy place” but few seem to realize the power inherent in having such an “inner space.” It is a place not only to rest and heal but a place where you can perform deep magic that is unavailable to you here in the plane of Ordinary Reality.
Think about it. Say you would really like to communicate with Odin. You would love to have a sacred space dedicated solely to him, a place where you could leave offerings and perform a Blot without worrying about interruption. But you live in a tiny apartment, or are sharing your living space with nosy relatives or roommates.
You can have that sacred space, and perform any rituals you like. You need only yourself and the depths of your mind. You can create this sacred space and you can visit freely, whenever you choose. Stay as long as you like or just pop in and leave a quick offering.
Oh, and here’s the true power of creating your sacred space. Once created and filled with your own personal energy and magic…sacred spaces tend to take on a life of their own. They grow and adapt independent of you.
My first attempt at inner sacred space was a circle of stone monoliths. For obvious reasons, not something I could create here in our version of Ordinary Reality. At least, not yet. But I visualized the stone circle with its worn stones, reminiscent of henges and such I had seen in photos. Every time I visited the circle it felt more real and I noticed more details about it.
And then…one day, as I was walking the path (in my mind) to visit the circle, I noticed a path branching off of it. A path I had not created, but yet there it was. Intrigued, I followed it and found myself in the wood.
Over time I have found more unexplored areas of this space. An open meadow, a little cottage…all created without conscious thought on my part. Yet they are now part of my own inner sacred space.
In another article I will try to explain a bit about Ordinary and Non-ordinary Reality and about the Mystery of deep dreaming and the shamanic state. But such a knowledge is not necessary to begin building your inner sacred space. You need only to be able to picture it.
Being able to meditate helps in creating your sacred space, but it is not necessary. I have not yet mastered being able to “clear my mind” in a meditative fashion. But what will be necessary is your ability to picture something in your mind and to hold that picture until it becomes as vivid as if it were real for you.
If you find this difficult, know that it becomes easier with practice. You do not need to be able to lose yourself for hours at a time in the beginning.
Many of us already have an idea of what our ideal sacred space would be like. If that is true for you, then you are already halfway there. If not, spend the next few days just thinking, on and off, “What does my ideal sacred space look like?”
This is not concentrated thinking. What you are trying to do is to kind of “catch yourself” in an unaware state. Ask yourself the question, and see what the first image is that pops into your mind. Maybe it is trees, or a brook. Make a note of it and then go on to whatever you were doing. After a few days you should have a handful of images to work with.
When you are ready to begin creating your space, set aside some time where you will be undisturbed. I like to burn incense when I do so. You may choose to listen to certain music or nothing at all. Be aware that if you do use music or incense or something like that, it may become a sort of a “trigger” for you in the future. Smelling that particular incense or listening to that music will ease you into a meditative state quicker, so do not use music you will hear every day or on the radio!
Get comfortable. You may want to lie down. You may just want to sit comfortably. If you choose to lie down, be careful that you are not over tired or you may fall asleep too soon.
Decide which of your images you are going to use. Let’s say it is “trees.” Close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths, and picture these trees. Picture them in your mind as if you are standing next to them or within their presence. Take the time to look at them. How tall are they? How many are there? Do you know what kind they are? What sort of a day is it there? Or is it night? Can you smell or hear anything? Do not “force” anything…do not think that “a forest should smell like such and such.” Just be quiet and see what it does smell like. What you are aiming for is not a static image, but a kind of “movie in your head”…only you are participating in the movie, not just watching it.
If you find your concentration wandering off to mundane matters, try performing an action there in your vision. Walk up to a tree. Touch it. Sit down beneath it. Walk around the glade and see what it looks like from all sides. Know as you do this that this is your space, that you can return here at any time you choose. If you feel like it, pile up some stones or something to mark this space, knowing that they will remain until you return.
The first few times you should not spend an overlong amount of time at it. Ten or fifteen minutes is a long time at such an endeavor. If you only manage it for a few minutes it is still a success.
If you find your concentration just will not hold any longer, it is time to take your leave. Thank the spirits of the place and promise that you will return. Picture yourself making an exit from this place, whether it is laying down a path, hopping in a boat, or whatever suits you. When you are ready to return, you can follow the path or travel in your boat to get back.
Always remember this is Non-ordinary Reality–YOU are shaping it. If you want a path, you do not have to picture yourself hauling dirt and building it by hand. Just think of a nice level dirt path…and there it is. Want to ride off on horseback? Look…there is your horse tethered to a tree, just as you thought he would be. You are the Creator in this little space, and anything you can think of you can Create.
Once you have your sacred space created, you can begin to dedicate it and use it. You can use any methods that would use in a “physical” sacred space, like cleansing, smudging, or purifying with salt. Simply relax, visit your space and perform whatever ceremony you feel is needed.
The fun part here again is that you are creating this in your mind, so money and “reality” are no object. If you’ve always wanted a big two-handed sword to use in your sacred space, you’ve got one. If you want to plant flowers that will stay alive throughout the year, go for it. Build altars, stone circles, fire pits…whatever you desire.
After your space is cleansed you may want to invite the Elder Kin to join you there. You can perform a formal ritual there, with the best mead or wine that you can imagine. Or you may just want to sit in your space quietly and ask if there are any Elders who would like to join you there, and wait to see what kind of a response you get. I would also make an offering of some kind to the land spirits or wights of the place. Even though this space is not “physical” in this reality it does sit in its own “reality” and there are spirits of the place there.
When you are inviting Elder Kin into your space, be patient and be open to what might happen. Do not have any expectations of what such contact will be like, if it happens. The Elder Kin may feel the need to watch you for a while, to gauge the sincerity of your intentions. They may appear to you in an animal form such as a hawk or a deer. Greet any visitors with respect and offer them a gift–you have a limitless supply of gifts and food available. Remember always to show respect to any who choose to enter your space, the same respect you would show an older, wiser person who has something to teach you.
Do not be disappointed if they choose not to speak to you. You may only receive a thought or a feeling. Pay attention to these. It is not polite to ask the name of any who visit you. If they choose to give you a name to call them by they will offer one.
For some people the process is easier than for others. Some seem to be born with the ability to “walk between the worlds.” In ancient times this would have been recognized and valued, and these people would have become shamans or medicine men or the prophetesses at Delphi. In these times you are more likely to spend your growing up years wondering why you see things others can’t and wondering if you will end your days in the loony bin. But no matter your level of inherent ability, anyone can learn to be receptive to Non-Ordinary Reality. Learning to trust yourself and accept the validity of your experiences is the hardest part in this.