To set sacred space is to create a clean, safe energetic field around you in which to do energetic work – whether it be a ritual, a yoga practice, healing, therapy, studying, divination, meditation, even just to read. The sacred space can be as minimalistic or ornate as you would like it to be, however it would also be wise to develop a second method of creating sacred space that you can easily do while on the go. There are a few things to consider before creating the space:
- What will the space be used for? Why? And for whom?
- When will you be creating the space? Are there any other things going on during that time which would possibly influence the energies around you – things like astrological, political, and even social events?
Once you have answered these questions, you may start to have an idea of any specific items or practices you would like to bring into the space with you. As a personal example, on January 6th when the riot on Capitol Hill occurred, I was scheduled to lead a guided meditation later that night. I knew that this event would be playing a big role in the energies coming into the room that night, and I prepared for possible energies of anxiety, panic, and fear. As I considered this, I knew that I would need to bring in certain objects and practices to our shared sacred space – very grounding crystals, calming oils, and breathwork to slow down the nervous system.
Once you have considered all potentialities, you are ready to set up your sacred space.
The most basic components of sacred space are four objects to represent the four elements/directions. All you need is one of each, which is something to consider for setting up sacred space on the go. If you want more – go for more. Layering correspondences for extra applied energy is always a plus.
- East/Air – a feather, incense, a knife, a bell, a fan, a piece of clear quartz, an image of clouds or the sky, an image of an air-driven animal like a bird or butterfly, or a statue of an air-centric deity.
- South/Fire – a lit candle, a wand, a small bowl of hot spices, a cacti plant, a pyramid, gemstones like ruby, carnelian, citrine, and amber, and animal images like dragons, lions, lizards, or phoenix, or a statue of a fire-centric deity.
- West/Water – a small bowl or jar of water, a cup, a dram of essential oil, a seashell, a mirror, images of the ocean, waves, rivers, lakes, ponds, or mermaids, animal images like dolphins, frogs, whales, fish, etc., or a statue of a water-centric deity.
- North/Earth – gemstones or minerals of any kind, bones, ceramics, coins, a small bowl of soil, food such as grain, nuts, or seeds, flowers or herbs, acorns, gnomes, plants, images of trees or mountains, rocks, or a statue of an earth-centric deity.
You may have noticed that I listed the directions in a way that you may not be used to seeing. Through the years and many different teachers, I was taught to open space starting with the East and move clockwise until I reached the North. Then, to close the space, I move counterclockwise from North to East again.
The next step is to arrange your elemental/directional markers around your space. You can do this in a number of ways, though it is encouraged to place them in the vicinity of their actual direction, even if you don’t plan to face towards the North. Like the photo at the beginning of this post, you can see that the elementals are set up in more of a grid pattern (white sage bundle for the East, lit candle for the South, jar of water for the West, and ammonite for the North). You can do this, or even create an actual circle around you. The reason I tend not to do it that way is because I prefer to cast a very wide energetic circle/boundary around my property lines at my home. That way if I need to get up and find something, then I’m never outside the circle!
Activating the Space
Activating the sacred space can also be known as ‘calling the directions’ or ‘calling the elementals,’ and I’m sure many other things. You can really customize this part to fit your own practice or comfort level and inserting the names that you resonate with the most. Again, it can be as short or as detailed as you like. When you are first starting out, it may be easier to remember something simpler. Once you do it a few times, you may be able to make it a little more detailed and commit it to memory.
For example, as a Norse priestess, this is how I call the directions:
I call upon the direction of the East and the element of Air. I call upon my Eastern Watchtower, guarded by my mother Freyja and my uncle, Freyr. I call upon the gentle breeze and the howling gale. I allow all of my energetic channels to open completely so that I may receive divine guidance and wisdom. May I receive any messages of wisdom that I need to hear. Welcome, East.
I call upon the direction of the South, and the element of Fire. I call upon my Southern Watchtower guarded by my brother Baldur and my sister, Sol. I stoke my own internal flame, daughter to the Eternal Flame in Asgard. May I be filled with courage, strength, creativity, joy, and warmth. Allow my internal body to be cleansed and purified by the sacred flames within me. Welcome, South.
I call upon the direction of the West, and the element of Water. I call upon my Western Watchtower, guarded by my dear brother, Thor. Allow me to be calm, peaceful, and relaxed. Allow me to flow with the energy with ease and grace, feeling the gentle push and pull. Allow my intuition to be open and clear. Allow me to receive whatever healing that I may need today. Allow me to be bathed and cleansed completely by the cool saltwaters of home. Welcome, West.
I call upon the direction of the North, and the element of Earth. I call upon my Northern Watchtower, guarded by my father, Odin, and my mother, Frigga. Allow me to be strong, centered, stable, and grounded. Allow me to feel completely safe and supported in this space. Allow me to tap into my inner shieldmaiden, always ready, and always observing with distinction the best path forward. Welcome, North.
Now, you can stop after the elements. I like to take it a step further and involve the above and the below, just to cover all my bases.
I call to the Above, to Mani and the celestials. May all of my channels be open and ready to receive any messages, codes, or keys from the Universe that I may need at this time.
I call to the Below, to Mother Jord. Allow the channels in my feet to be completely open so that I may easily and effectively discard any energy that I no longer need to carry with me. I give it up into your hands so that you may do with it whatever you see fit. May it be recycled into usable energy for others.
I carry the benedictions of the elements with me as well as the blessings of my entire family. I am protected and blessed. So it is.
And, boom! My sacred space is activated. Now I can do whatever work I planned to do. Again, this can be modified to fit your own practice or beliefs, the names you know the divine as, and so on and so forth. You can also just call on the elements themselves. It’s up to you.
Closing Sacred Space
Ah, the oft-forgotten step of the practice. Make sure to close your space! Sometimes we get wrapped up in what we’re doing and forget. Try to be mindful. We call all of these elements and deities in – we cannot just expect them to sit there all night! It’s a bit rude. I have come up with a quick solution with the help of my guides – once I ring my bell, all spirits and elementals who have gathered are welcome to leave in their own time. That way if I get hung up talking with someone, they’re not obligated to hang around. Of course if you have the time, it is always nice to release the directions one by one, starting in the North and ending in the South. It can be as simple as, “[Direction/element] thank you for being here with me tonight and lending your energy. You are always appreciated and welcome in this space. Thank you, and I look forward to working with you again.“