Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sacred Space

Source: http://healing.about.com/od/healernetwork/ig/Pictorial-Site-Index/Sacred-Spaces.htm

Sacred Space

I'm sure that I've probably posted about this before, but having done some research during my last course at school (History of Religion) and some work on my own, and being in that current mindset of reevaluating my own sacred areas at home I have decided to tackle this topic again.

One of the discussions we had during my class was the idea of sacred space and what classifies something as sacred space.  We as human beings have created for ourselves sacred spaces as a part of that process by which we attempt to better understand our relationship to the divine/world/universe.
In the process of self-identification as a spiritual being, the Man, first spontaneously and then deliberately, creates a concrete milieu of his connection with the transcendental world. Creation of sacred spaces can be compared with pictorial creativity, which also belongs to visual culture and appears spontaneously at a very early stage of shaping of personality. http://hierotopy.ru/contents/CreationOfSacralSpaces_01_Lidov_Hierotopy_2006_Eng.pdf
Source: http://www.oakandwillow.org/YAD6%
 So creating sacred space is essential to being human - what then constitutes these sacred spaces?  How do they become sacred?  This was one of the questions that I posed in class and sadly didn't get much of an answer to.  When we consider that there are natural places that are seen as sacred and there are man-made places that are sacred what defines the sacred?  Can we define what makes something sacred?  A mountain top is said to be sacred and so people make pilgrimages to it, does it obtain its sacred nature from the dedication as a sacred space or from the energy that people have put into the place or both?  It really is quite difficult to define.  To me a sacred space has an aura - vague I know - but there is just something that one feels or is drawn to in a place that just lets you know it is sacred.  That feeling could be the energies of many people worshiping and praying (such as a church) or it could be the field of energy that exists around a certain natural site.  I have personally experienced both of these examples.  Obviously I am not a church going person, however, I have gone to churches (in and out of use) and there is an energy to them that lets you know you are in a sacred space.  I have also found hidden trails on hikes where I've stepped into a particular area and come to a complete standstill as a wave of knowing that this place is somehow sacred has descended upon me.

How then do we create our own sacred space?  First, we must come to some understanding of what a sacred space is to us.  I personally quite like this definition:
Source: http://holessence.wordpress.com/
At its most basic, it is a place which invites the contemplation of divine mystery, and encourages an attitude of spiritual openness.  A sacred space is not necessarily where answers are grasped or understood.  Rather it is where questions are asked, conversations occur, rituals are perpetuated, dances are performed, songs are sung, and silence is heard. www.sacred-spaces.info/sba/index.html
 We can and should I believe attempt to create a sacred space in each of our homes.  This does not necessarily mean that we have to set aside a room to devote purely to this (although if you can lucky you) but rather that I believe it is important for there to be some area where you can take a moment to stop and connect.  If all you have available to you is a shelf on a wall, the top of a dresser, a small corner on your desk or in a room you can still turn that space into something sacred.

All the arts play in to creating sacred spaces, because a space is both its architecture and its furnishings, its sounds, its smells, its touch, its taste.  http://magazine.biola.edu/article/11-fall/what-is-sacred-space/
 In order to create your sacred space take some time to think about how you are likely to use it.  Is this going to be a spot you can stop, sit, rest, contemplate?  Will it most likely be a place where you can but pause for a moment or to center and offer thanks?  The purpose and use of a place plays a part in its design (as may other considerations such as location, other house members and pets etc).  Once you know how you're likely to use it you can begin to think about the things that will identify it to your mind as sacred space. Our minds love symbols and our senses are the perfect way to trigger and emphasize our connection with the divine.  Your sacred space doesn't need to be a full blown altar, it doesn't have to have tools and paraphernalia cluttering its every surface, it may be as simple as a candle or picture some incense or crystals etc.  Use your senses and imagery to create a space that for you says "this is sacred".  Your process might be something as simple as a shelf where you have an image of deity some form on incense and a set or prayer beads - your practice is to stand, light the incense and take some time reciting a chant while you work the prayer beads.  The image connects you to the divine, the incense triggers your sense of smell and helps create an association to the sacred and the texture of the beads becomes an act that also begins to register a connection when in use.


1 comment:

  1. Really Liked this article and your take on it, It was awesome! Thanks!