Sacred Space 101, Episode 1
Updated: Mar 4
One of the considerations when planning your ceremony (whatever it may be) is where you’re going to hold it. You may have a clear idea of your venue. Perhaps a country house hotel – swanky ballroom, cosy break-out spaces, a sweeping staircase for the big entry or that multi-tiered group photo opportunity. Or you might be more of a woodland glade sort of person. Or have your eye on that cavernous viaduct arch with the amazing street art. All very different but none of them what you’d call ‘sacred’. And that might be just fine if creating a sense of the numinous is not a priority of yours.
But what can you do if you’d like to create a special atmosphere with a hint of the spiritual about it? Let me describe a few things you might want to try.
But first a disclaimer.
I believe that serious, focused intent is key to creating anything authentic. Intent is 90% of the magic. The main strength of ritual is that it concentrates intent and boils it down to forms and symbols. Things that you can see, say and participate in. And no matter what ‘tradition’ or belief system you may (or may not) be working in, some symbols have an almost universal resonance. So, in light of this proposition, here we go.
Cast a circle!
Why not? The circle is the horizon, the gathering round the primal camp fire, the protection of the Neolithic roundhouse, the wedding band, the wheel of the year, the figurative embrace of the family. It is the journey without end. A symbol of Infinity. The circle is the number zero, which isn’t even really a number but the locus of potential. The circle can also define that which is within from that which is without. See? Just these few examples of the symbolism of the circle should be enough to get your imagination buzzing.
Wherever you ceremony is taking place, you can cast a circle to evoke some of that sense of universal significance; maybe even numinosity. And ‘casting’ that circle is something you can make as elaborate or as simple as you wish. Will it embrace the whole ceremony space, guests included, or will it be closely drawn around one or two individuals? Who’ll do it, you, your guests, your celebrant or a combination of participants?
Will it be traced on the ground with flower petals, water, rice or earth? Or in the air with incense or a smudging bundle? You might even decide to lead your guests into your venue in a line, all linking hands and moving into a circle around your ceremony space. Perhaps you'll all chant or sing as you go? You can drum the circle into being, strike a gong, ring a bell, sound a singing bowl. You might want to go full Gandalf and use a staff, do a Minerva McGonagall and flourish a wand or even use a sword.
Getting excited yet? If you are, or even if you aren't, look out for Episode 2, coming here soon.