sa·cred | \ ˈsā-krəd
2b: entitled to reverence and respect
5b: highly valued and important
Etymology: from obsolete verb sacren "to make holy" (c. 1200), from Old French sacrer "consecrate, anoint, dedicate" (12c.) or directly from Latin sacrare "to make sacred, consecrate; hold sacred; immortalize
The word sacred is often relegated to the realm of religion, but at one point in history, life itself was considered sacred among Indigenous people and folk cultures throughout the world. Everything was seen as a reflection of the divine, as interconnected and belonging to the circle of life, and thus worthy of reverence and respect.
Space, which is in relationship to time, was understood from a completely different cosmological orientation as well. Rather than being perceived in a linear fashion as it is today in Western culture, time was experienced through the seasons as cyclical.
Coming from such a world view, people operated very differently than they do now. Many were - and still are - deeply connected to the places they inhabit, holding very specific responsibilities to one another and the Lands/Waters that allow them to thrive. Certain values are embodied that sacralize every day actions and practices, informing thought, movement, and ways of being in the world.
Sharing this as a starting place is important because the sacred is a quality of being/perceiving and is reflected in how we are in relationship with the world around us. We encourage you to approach these practices and ideas from this orientation; to engage with each of the elements while holding the intention of being in sacred relationship with them. How you ARE is the key ingredient to creating a sacred space.
Creating sacred space requires a certain way of being within your own self. The ideas offered below can be used to cultivate a sacred relationship to yourself as you explore and sense how your mind, body and heart orient differently when coming from this intention.
Define what is sacred to you
Creating sacred space in your home is all about amplifying your relationship to that which you hold most dear. When you reflect on your life, what do you think is entitled to reverence and respect? What is highly valued and important to you?
You get to decide what’s sacred in your life, and you can set aside as big or small a space as you want, to honor it. A sacred space is an invitation to pause, to be present, to hold life with reverence. It's a way to come home to yourself after a long day at work, it's a way to ground and settle your nervous system when you're feeling out of sorts, it's a way to remember who you are so that when you forget, you can rest in the sanctuary of your own making that reflects back to you what is true. You can think of your sacred space as an anchor in your life. It is a space that can be anything - as simple or as quirky as you want it to be.
Maybe your sacred space is a wall covered in family photos or your kids’ artwork. Maybe it’s the shelf where you collect all your favorite books. Maybe it’s a table filled with bits and bobs you’ve found in nature and cultivate regularly. Maybe it’s your nightstand, piled high with journals and lotions. Maybe it's that spot on the kitchen counter where you french-press your tea or coffee, your own morning practice before life starts calling your name.
As you consider setting up a sacred space, here are a few ideas to get you started.
Creating Sacred Space in Your Home
1) Create a vision
Consider how you're going to use and interact with your sacred space. Determine your needs and desires and orient around meeting those. How often do you want to engage with the space? Daily? Weekly? What rituals or practices will be a part of informing your sacred space? Do you want to honor your ancestors? Create a space that helps you to remember the importance of this connection, and the histories you belong to. Want to meditate more often or engage in embodied prayer? Create a space that allows you to sit comfortably and ideally in an area where you can be undisturbed.
2) Cleanse your space
Prepare your space by cleaning and clearing it out before you bring any new energy in. Physically clean the space and then energetically cleanse. This can be done through a simple smoke cleanse, which involves burning botanicals, resins, wood, etc. for health and/or spiritual purposes. I'd recommend that you read this article, "Smoke Cleansing Around the World" by Heidi from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Here is a Medicinal Plants quick Guide for smoke cleansing:
Lavender: relaxing, clairvoyance, cleansing, love, peace, purification
Thyme: Affection, clarity, courage, fidelity, healing, psychic power, purification
Rosemary: banishing, cleansing, fidelity, happiness, honesty, memory, protection, purification, good health
Basil: confidence, love, luck, money, protection, prosperity, purification
Vervain: dreams, healing, peace, protection, sleep
Mint: energy, healing, love, psychic powers, protection
Sage: cleansing, divination, knowledge, healing, peace, purification, wisdom
Bay Leaf: beauty, cleansing, divination, energy, love, luck, purification
Chamomile: relaxing, happiness, healing, love, money, peace, success
Lemon Balm: calm, family, healing, relaxing, success
Cinnamon: prosperity, success, protection, love
Rose: beauty, marriage, sexuality, divine love, relationships
3) Set an intention for the space
An intention is a living prayer. It's an intentional naming and calling into being that which already exists within you. This is a heartfelt statement that directs energy forward, toward your own becoming. The statement is meant to express the longing within you. You'll want to get clear on how you want to be in relationship to the space, how you want to lean into it and be nourished by it. Speak aloud your intentions, and speak to the space with reverence. Call to the spirit of this sacred space.
4) Bring in healing elements
We love our plant babies around here, and you can’t go wrong with adding a little green, a little nature to your sacred space. There is something soothing and satisfying about tending to a plant, watching it grow, and unfurling new leaves little by little. Plants invite us to slow down in our tending to them. When we water our plants, we have to do so mindfully, slowly. We have to take the time to listen and read the signs of a plants vitality. It requires attentive observation and care to know when a plant needs more or less light, a bigger sized home, less water, etc.
Plants are a calming presence, and they add a vital life force energy to your space. Most of the time, our homes are made of materials that have been sprayed with preservatives, covered in coatings, or synthetics. Plants enliven a room, and offer a green effect that activates the heart center and purifies your air quality. They give us oxygen while we feed them with carbon dioxide. That’s why it can’t hurt to talk to your plant babies - we’ve had some real deep conversations with our tomato plants a time or two. Don’t be surprised if you end up with a house full of plants, either. Like Pringles, you can’t have just one.
Ultimately, plants can teach us about slowing down, coming into presence, and the keys to creating sacred space.
B. INCENSE & CANDLES
There is nothing like lighting a candle or an incense cone to set a mood. The warmth of either invites a slow rhythm.
Incense is commonly used in sacred settings for its aromatic properties. The smoke is cleansing, and it provides a meditative and relaxing aromatherapy. In fact, Heidi of Mountain Rose Herbs shares that:
"One of the earliest written records of smoke cleansing comes from the Vedas. These ancient Hindu texts written in Sanskrit detail the use of incense as a healing tool to support recovery from illness and, equally important, to create a clean, peaceful, nurturing space in which to heal. We know, however, that long before the Vedas documented this use of smoke cleansing, people throughout the ancient world burned herbs to create sweet-smelling smoke in their temples, in their home alters, and in places of healing."
There is a large variety of incense to choose from, each with its own scent intended to impact your mood, energy, and sensory experience. It is slow burning, gently stimulating your olfactory neurons and affecting your chemosensory system.
Candles are equated with romance and calm. The warm glow from the flame creates a sensual space. Any candle that suits your fancy will do. You can go with three-wick beasts, tall tapers, or little tea lights. There are scents and colors galore to choose from as well.
To go deeper by choosing a color and scent that has meaning and symbolism, read Colors of Candles: What Do Different Candle Colors Mean?
C. STONES, CRYSTALS, GEMSTONES, OH MY!
Stones are the physical matter of Earth. They are grounding forces that carry stories, memories and properties that emit certain energetic vibrations. Their structure, color, and surface can impact our bodies, and energy centers or chakras as we engage with them. Many stones hold power to heal, attune and magnetize, and can support transformation.
Stones can facilitate cleansing, manifesting, energizing, healing, purifying and attracting. When you engage with stones, you will want to touch, observe, and witness them to increase their potential for manifestation. They respond to connection as all living things do! And yes, stones are living beings!
We each have a stone that is specific to our astrological sign, so if you’ve never used stones or crystals before, that can be a great place to start. Or, check out this chart from I Love Chakra:
D. OPEN WINDOWS
This is the simplest way we can invite the sacred into our home: open the windows. This allows you to connect to Earth and the sensations of the day: the air, sounds, smells, and temperature of this particular moment.
When we open the windows externally, we open the windows inwardly to receive the felt-experiences of being in a body. Opening the windows can activate our sensory awareness and attune our bodies to the greater body of earth.
At night, there is a symphony to be heard, and the orchestra is frogs, cicadas, crickets, beetles, owls, coyotes and many other more-than-human friends. The nightly tunes from earth are healing, soothing and settling.
Take a moment to listen.
Even in the winter, when the air is cool and the earth is quiet, you can connect to the sacredness of the moment by being with the silence, by being still in the quiet. The presence of the natural world and listening to earth by opening your windows can be a direct doorway into the sacred.
As you open them, invite in the presence of spirit. Say the invitation aloud, inviting in clarity, light, freshness, trust, love, or whatever you need in your home, in your body.
Music is a powerful way to express and set your emotional tune. Turning on soft instrumentals, chants, singing bowls, or nature sounds can immediately bring you into an internal sacred space to match your outer.
You really want to listen to something that activates the heart, relaxes your nerves and showers your body with comforting vibrations. Your sacred space is an expression of all that nurtures you, so choose music that you know will connect you to the calm place within that evokes inner peace. Here are some playlists you can try:
F. DIFFUSE IT BABY!
A diffuser is a subtle, convenient way to add a relaxing, calming effect to any space, as well as a natural scent. Diffusers are a mixture of water and an essential oil that sprays an aromatic vapor into your room. Essential oils & aromatherapy offer many benefits & impacts.
Here is a chart to get you started on which oil to choose:
5) Create meaningful rituals & practices
A. NATURE ART
This can be an easy, fun way to cultivate a sense of beauty and display the art that is meaningful for you. Nature art can be anything from pressed flowers, watercolor paintings, moon charts, birdhouses, pottery, or anything that connects to the expression of you and earth. You can choose something that you’ve purchased, or something you’ve made, or something that was given to you.
Here are some examples of nature art that hopefully inspire you for your space:
B. MEANINGFUL WORDS
There are many ways to engage in meaningful written words such as affirmations, intentions, mantras, prayers or poems.
Affirmations: These are statements or reminders that are meant to shift the way that you perceive yourself, and the tone of your inner dialogue. Here is a great website to get started with reading affirmations or inspiring you to write your own.
Intentions: This is a heartfelt statement that directs energy forward, toward your own becoming. The statement is meant to express the longing within you. Intentions can be written in any way that activates you. I’ve often seen them begin with, “May I….”.
Mantras: These are sounds, words, or a group of words most often found in Sanskrit that are repeated and have powerful healing effects. According to Wikipedia, "A mantra is a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit, Pali and other languages believed by practitioners to have religious, magical or spiritual powers."
Prayers: This is an expressive way to connect with the core of who you are, or spirit, or a sense of the sacred. They can take many forms like poems, letters, written words, or any of the above that we just mentioned can be prayers. Prayer is an act of reaching out to connect to the love within your very own heart.
C. NATURE ALTARS
This is definitely our personal go-to for creating sacred space in the home. Earth is sacred. The textures, patterns, sounds, smells, and seasonal cycles are magical.
You can begin by gathering the nature items you’ve already collected like shells, rocks, leaves, branches, flowers, etc. Or you can go out for a trail walk, or outside your home and gather nature items. We'd love to have you join our upcoming Forest Walk to begin your nature altar.
Next, you can play with the placement of your earthly treasures into some formation. This is a creative exploration. If you feel stuck, perhaps start with a centerpiece and move out from there.
Here are some examples:
D. ORACLE CARDS
Oracle cards are a set of cards that are used as guidance, whatever this might mean to you. These decks are illustrated, so you can pick the artwork or theme that resonates with you. Each deck is unique and carries a different personality based on the author. They typically come with a guide book that interprets the significance of each card.
There are many ways to use an oracle deck. The simplest way is to shuffle the cards and then hold the deck while you sit with a current challenge or a question. When you’re ready, you can lay them out, or just pull one from the deck. Oracle cards are meant to offer guidance, or clarity to a current situation. You can use them daily, monthly or just whenever something is present for you. There are many decks to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites:
The Moon Deck
The Wild Unknown: Animal Spirit Deck
Creating a sacred space is all about the quality of relationship you cultivate with a little corner of your world, and it doesn't have to stop there. This is about creating the kind of space in your home that invites you to slow down and to connect with your own inner home, whatever that means to you.
There is no right or wrong to create a sacred space. Choose what is meaningful to you. Make the space accessible on daily basis so you can easily find a minute or two to pause there. You can start with a single item and add onto it as you go. It doesn't have to elaborate to begin with - or ever.
If you liked this blog post, we'd love to hear from you!
What does sacred space mean to you?
Do you already have a sacred space? We'd love to see photos! Tag us on Instagram @wayofbelonging and tell us about it!
What rituals and practices do you incorporate into your sacred space or what are you intending to step into?
Leave a comment below :)
Yours in wonder & beauty,