Welcome to 2017! Bid adieu to 2016. Some of us may be glad of its passing; however, all of us have something we’ve learned - something we can reflect on and that can support us in our continued life journey. And the beginning of a new year is a notable time for reflection. After the busyness of the holiday season, many of us look forward to hibernating throughout the months of January and February. We may give ourselves more permission to rest, relax and reflect. Some practice yoga and meditation, others go for walks in nature, while some folks take time to sip a healing cup of tea, or gather with small groups of favourite people. Sacred space is also used to journal, draw or paint, chant or sing, play an instrument, or simply listen to outside nature. Regardless of what we choose to do, having a safe and sacred space in which to turn off the world and tune into ourselves is key to supporting us in this time.
When considering creating sacred space, it’s helpful to know what we consider to be ‘sacred’. Once we clearly define our sense of sacred, we can then consider where we want to create our sacred space. The sacred space may be in our home, our workplace or our backyard. It may also be our own physical body – taking care to treat it with love and respect. Many people are called to create resolutions that focus on exercising, making better food choices and getting more quality sleep. How we create that personal space is unique to each individual; however, there are some common methods of doing so that effectively support the inward journey.
Creating Sacred Space
Once you determine what ‘sacred’ actually means to you, choose where you want to create your ‘sacred space’. If hibernation is about hunkering down in the safety of your home, choose a spot inside your home that is conducive to the creation of sacred space. Ideally, the space is away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the household. However, if you live in small living quarters that do not have a separate room to dedicate to sacred space, purposefully choosing a corner of a room can be just as effective, for you can also choose the quietest time of day to interact with your sacred space.
In cultures around the world, altars play an important role in the creating and using of sacred space. An altar is essentially a space in which we place sacred objects and engage in sacred practices. Equally important is the role of ritual. In fact, the moment you begin to consider creating sacred space, you enter into ritual. Choosing items for and creating the space is another key part of the ritual. What you choose to put in your sacred space is, of course, very personal.
Candles often inhabit sacred space as the glow of candlelight creates an atmosphere of reverence. Candlelight is very different from artificial light both in its energetic make-up and the effect it has on our physical, emotional and mental well-being. Synthetic light sources emit white, green or blue light (UV) that mimic sunlight. If we use synthetic light in our homes after dark, this light tricks our bodies into believing it's still daytime, causing the body to suppress melatonin production which is necessary for supporting our natural circadian rhythm. Excessive amounts of synthetic light negatively affect hormone production and make it more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Candlelight also has a calming effect on our mind, helping to bring it to a more meditative state. This state of mind is essential for self-reflection, rest and renewal.
In addition to candlelight, contemplating on sacred objects and what they symbolize helps many people to tap into sacred energy and move more deeply into self-reflection. What makes an object sacred? It’s a combination of what we learn from our culture and our own personal relationship with the object. Some people are more deeply impacted by religious icons while others are swayed by cultural icons. Sometimes we don’t know why we’re drawn to a particular object or image…we simply are. The answer very likely lies in the deeper part of ourselves which we are more likely to access if we give ourselves time to be still and silent.
Some common sacred objects are crosses, mandelas, carved images of Goddesses and Gods, carved or painted images of flora or fauna, pictures of loved ones or places, or personal mementos. Sometimes positive words or affirmations help us to quiet our busy mind and fill ourselves with the healing energy of these words and affirmations.
Once you have chosen the items to populate your sacred space, you are ready to engage in ritual. Ritual does not have to be complicated or steeped in ancient or religious philosophy or dogma. It can be as simple as sipping your favorite cup of tea while reading. It may be sitting in silence and watching your thoughts. It may be creating purposeful intentions and supplying them with the energy required to bring them into being. Purpose and intention are essential but how you do your own personal ritual is up to you.
Spend as much time as you wish in your sacred space. And know that it isn’t just for the hibernation months of January and February. Your sacred space can serve you well for the entire year and for many years to come. Above all, let the creation of your sacred space be filled with play, wonder and joy.
Be well and enjoy your well-deserved time of hibernation.