SWDtR: Day 16: Creating Sacred Space

“I don’t cast circles but I do believe in Sacred Spaces. In personal ritual I speak three words, not to make a barrier but to invoke a certain energy around me and create a ‘ritual mind’; these are, Safety, Secrecy and Sanctity. But the real Sacred Space is something I call Home – this space offers me some sanctuary that allows me to loose myself from the eroding tides of society, where I can be my Self and not live by a mask. I live in this Sanctuary, a Sanctuary of the Self that makes a barrier between Self and society. It is also a Sanctuary for Nature, where society can’t encroach and eat it up as just another resource – it can live for itself.”
— Treegod, The Druid Network

Sacred Space and Circles

Today we are going to talk about the ritual of creating sacred space. Sacred space is a holy place which is safe, created by your prayer and intent for the purpose of ceremony, ritual, healing, and even self-expression.

In the old days, I would ask permission of a space beneath the trees where I felt most safe or that called me, walk clockwise around the area in a circle three times, chanting, “Only good enters here.” To leave the circle, I would walk the opposite direction, thanking all unseen who came, and turning to the left to bow to the centre of the circle as I made my way out with reverence.

This worked for a time, but I sensed there was more I needed to acknowledge. More layers, more learning.

The circle is such a powerful symbol of protection, inclusivity and oneness with All. It also says completion, perfection, infinity, unity, wholeness, and so much more. It speaks to us at the archetypal level.

The Wild Fae simply say the circle is a hug (embraced in the circle of his/her arms) and a snuggly blanket. They tell me the circle is as old as time. They say it is wise to sit inside a circle, and reminded me that teepees were circular. They showed me round homes through time, from stone huts and humpies to yurts. The circle creates a loving, protected sacred space.

In the Druid Mysteries: Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century, Philip Carr-Gomm, says:

Jung discovered that the circle represents the Self in the Unconscious, and that painting circular mandalas can help towards the healing process of finding a sense of wholeness or completeness in our lives. Within this sense of wholeness, this sacred circle of awareness, he postulated four functions — thinking, sensation, feeling and intuition — which can be equated with the four elements of air, fire, water and earth, and also with the four cardinal directions within the circle of east, south, west and north.

The fifth element of course is Spirit— the Divine in ourselves and in everything.

When we create sacred space we honour all the directions and the elements. There are many different ways to do this and you may already have your own way.

A Cautionary Note on Protection

Some teachers say, “Just surround yourself with white light and you will be protected.” However, one of my early mentors, Australian author and healer Judith Collins, said that was like waving a white flag. Instead of protection, it brought attention to you.

There are protective crystals, protective runes, protective symbols, protective unseen allies, and guardians, protective “shields”.

And then there is Light. And intention. When you know you are filled with Divine Love and Light and are safe, you create that experience for yourself.

Sandra Ingerman, in Walking in Light, reminds us about life’s mirror effect, that situations and people outside us reflect our inner state consciousness.

A powerful stance to take is to stop blaming others for attacking you, instead explore what is happening in your inner world… You might learn that you are also participating in behaviour that seems attacking in nature.

The moe impeccable you become, the more you will grow the medicine of power and protection.

Another shamanic mentor of mine, Linda Fitch, told a story of how her sister was doing ceremony with some folks who did sacred circle and obviously hadn’t done it enough. Her sister rang her in a panic because she had brought home an entity causing chaos in her life. When Linda was on the phone to her sister, Linda’s cat was running around in such obvious distress that her husband told her to get to her sister’s pronto, and clear the situation for her!

Creating Sacred Space

So many Gods, so many creeds, so many paths that wind and wind. While just the art of being kind, is all the sad world needs.” 
— Ella Wheeler Wilcox, from the Complete Poetical Works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox

One of the things we have to do is make friends with the spirits of place where we are making our sacred space. Doing ritual in the same spot, builds up an energy in that spot which is good. It’s good protection in itself and builds a bridge between you and the Otherworld.

So, while you can work within a circle anywhere, if there is a place in your yard or property or around a fire pit or in a special room, you can make this place sacred. If inside, make sure it is properly cleaned and cleansed with smudge. It’s a place of honour and therefore should always be clean, tidy and energetically clean.This honours both the unseen and the ritual.

I smudge before I open sacred space, or cleanse with a prayer or with my intent. It’s about keeping energetically clean and clear.

We open and close sacred space when we do sacred fire ceremony inside or outside. I open sacred space before a client and close it when I have completed that kind of work for the day. When doing healing, I know the medicine people will come — the luminous ones who help me with my work. The same goes before a class — opening sacred space and closing it when the class is over. Even if that class is a week’s retreat.

Sometimes I open it in the office while I’m writing, and won’t close it until I am finished the project. I opened sacred space for most of the people we interviewed for my documentary This Sacred Earth. And closed it when I was complete with the interview. If an animal is transitioning, holding space within sacred space can be soothing for them. At work you might want to open sacred space for a big meeting. You can do it in your mind, calling in the directions. I have also opened sacred space when my beloveds are at the vet, in surgery, for example, closing it only when we are all out and on our way home. This settles me, knowing I have created the best, calmest atmosphere for the vet to work in.

Why do we do this?

Not only is there something snug about the circle, by invoking the compassionate allies, you are asking for protection and inspiration, smooth sailing, healing helpers and grace.

I feel them come when I call.

However the Shaman’s lore is that for Spirit to come when we call, we have to also say yes to Spirit’s call. This keeps us in ayni. And Spirit calls us in many different ways. I can tell people that the animals called me to give refuge to them, but I also know that I am called by Spirit, through the animals, to serve the world in this way. This is part of my spiritual path.

Interestingly, when I was in Wales in the UK filming for This Sacred Earth, I was to open sacred space around the fire ceremony in the evening. My Druid mentor was there, and I could feel the sacred Celtic land and all the unseens gathering. I was going to show the people the South American way of opening sacred space, but it felt wrong to bring South American teachings into this place at this time. I felt warned not to. It didn’t seem right at all.

So I declined, much to everyone’s surprise. I think they were all disappointed not to learn something new, but the spirits of place forbade it. And I honoured them, not the humans.

We have to be very careful not to let ego take over, and to always walk with great sensitivity, for this world is rich with the unseen and we don’t know everything. This is where it pays to be very sensitive and mindful. The brash American Tourist archetype is how so many humans are to the fae.

So, you can simply chant words like Treegod, a member of the Druid Network does (above).

A Druid Way

Another Druid method of creating a protective circle is to point your finger with intention and turn anti-clockwise in a circle if in the southern hemisphere, to close the circle around you, and clockwise to open it. The opposite way for the northern hemisphere. Try it, you will feel it.

A note about pointing: Pointing is very powerful, and I always teach not to point. In live classes, I demonstrate how much it can penetrate like a laser and disrupt energy lines in the body. It can cause physical pain.

Think about when we point at animals and children— in anger. And that anger is sent into the child or animal like throwing a dagger. Or a spear.

So I encourage people not to point, and it you want a circle of protection, just be mindful where that pointed finger is pointing.

A Q’ero Way and the Elements

The Q’ero way I was taught was a long and lengthy prayer, honouring the four winds, the earth, and the Ones Above including our brothers and sisters of the star nations.

The spirits of place on this ancient southern land like it. I even asked if we were supposed to change the animals we were calling, and got a “no.” These archetypal animals have been used for centuries and there is an energy there. So despite having Celtic and Native American “past” lives which I strongly remember in this one, I find myself using the South American as a foundation.

The Q’ero called the winds and the archetypes. Below, I have added the elements, because I am so elemental myself. The elements are part of the Druid tradition.

There has been much discussion about where the elements are placed, but I was relieved when the general consensus always seemed to be “where it is right for you and your landscape.” Because the Q’ero prayer is my foundation, the elements come in this way for me. They are all around us anyway, This is just a way we can give them our focus.

Everyone has a unique relationship to the spirits and those they want to call in. Just make sure you are calling in “compassionate allies” only. Because believe me, the spirits come and it’s not to be taken lightly. There have been instances of people mucking with this stuff and ending up with entities meddling, worrying the animals, reducing health and all kinds of things.

I have found myself thanking and releasing the directions with Deep Peace and Divine Love as a thanks, a blessings, and an offering.

Prayer to Invoke the Healing Spirits and Compassionate Allies for Sacred Space

Opening Sacred Space

I stand in the centre of the circle facing south, having cleansed and smudged myself and the space (being careful not to drop ash anywhere).

Note: while my words may change, shorten or lengthen, the intent to call them in, feel them gather and honour them for being here, is not taken lightly. You can make it simpler, or more complicated as the situation dictates.

I say:

To the Winds of the South

Come into my medicine space and offer your guardianship.

Great Serpent, help us shed our skins and walk close to the Mother as you do,

Always walking in beauty, able to let go that which no longer serves us, quickly and easily.

And to the Ones of the Earth, help us be the best for our Mother and to thrive in harmony with all.

Thank you.

I turn to the west

To the Winds of the West.

Come into this medicine space and protect it.

Great Jaguar, keep us safe and clear as you pad around us, transmuting negativity and showing us the way between the worlds.

Brother sister Fire, thank you for the fire of energy and passion, so we may do our work in the world. Thank you for the warmth of the hearth.

Thank you.

Turning north:

To the Winds of the North

Come into our Medicine Space with your loving protection.

Ancestors, Ancient Ones, Holy Ones, Medicine Ones — thank you for your presence and wisdom and assistance this day.

Hummingbird and Sparrow, show us our mythic journey and take us deep into the nectar of life.

Spirit of the Waters, Cleanse us and keep us in Beauty. We honour you and want to be blessed with harmony and peace.

Thank you.

Turning east:

To the Winds of the East

Come into our Medicine Space and hold us.

Great Eagle/Condor help us fly wing to wing with great spirit like you do.

Take us to the highest mountains, Help us always carry the perspective of beauty.

To the Spirits of Air, welcome! Thank you for bringing inspiration and mental agility.

Thank you.

I kneel and place my palms on the ground.

To Mother Earth, Great Pachamama.

Thank you for holding us all so sweetly.

Help us to always walk in beauty and find beauty everywhere, walking lightly and with purpose.

We honour you and all our relations.

Thank you.

I stand and reach toward the heavens.

Spirit of Aether, The One Who Knows and Creates, Great Spirit, Grandmother Moon, Father Sky and Grandfather Sun, or brothers and sisters of the star nations and the tops of the great mountains.

Thank you for watching over us, guiding us and protecting us. Thank you for helping us to walk the Beauty Way and live to sing and dance another day.

Thank you.

Closing Sacred Space

At the end of the ceremony, we always close ceremony to release the spirits. When I release everyone, I thank them for coming direction by direction and offer them deep peace and divine love from my heart.

I love doing it this way because I am giving back, not just to the quarter and the elements, the winds and the archetypes, but to the Unified Field.

The intention is to release them from this current duty you have called them from, so proper thanks and a gift f deep peace and divine love works well.

As before, face the direction you are addressing.

To the winds of the South, thank you for being here in my medicine space,

Deep peace and divine love to you.

To the great Serpent and the spirits of the Earth, thank you for your loving presence and guidance. Deep peace and divine love to you.

Thank you.

To the winds of the West

Thank you for being here.

Deep peace and divine love to you.

To the Great Jaguar who protects us

And the fire who enlivens us.

Deep peace and divine love to you.

We are so grateful to you.

Thank you.

To the winds of the North

Deep peace and divine love to you.

And to, the Ancestors, Ancient Ones, Holy Ones, Medicine Ones,

Thank you for your assistance end help today.

Divine love and deep peace to you.

And to the intelligent birds, the hummingbird and the sparrow, we thank you for your guidance on our mythic journey and helping us find joy.

Divine love and deep peace to you.

And the spirits of water — thank you for your many blessings.

Deep peace and Divine Love to you.

Thank you.

To the winds of the East.

Deep Peace and Divine Love to you.

Great Condor, Eagle, you who fly wing to wing with great Spirit.

Thank you — deep peace and divine love to you.

And the spirits of the Air, thank you for bringing your wise inspiration.

Deep peace and Divine Love to you.

Thank you.

Mother Earth, sweet sweet Pachamama,

Our love and honour to you.

Deep peace and divine love to you.

Thank you for being here today.

To Aether, The Great Spirit who is called by Many Names, Grandmother Moon, Father Sky and Grandfather Sun, our brothers and sisters of the Star Nations and the tops of the Great Mountains, thank you for being here.

Deep Peace and Divine Love to you.

Thank you for another day to sing, dance and play!


Today’s Challenge

Think about the lesson today, and find your special place where you can meditate, journey, have fire (or candle) ceremony and create sacred space.

Ask permission.

When you are settled, open sacred space by calling in the directions and see how it feels. Spent some time in quiet meditation, listening, communing with the earth and the trees. Thank all the spirits, close sacred space, offer deep peace and divine love to the spirits, the unseen, the winds, the elements and the archetypes.

Tell us how it felt when you were sitting in sacred space, compared to when you weren’t.

Photo credit: Dance – Four Directions by Peter Morgan CC BY 2.0