Within the realms of Wicca and Witchcraft, these are fairly common words. But, the ease of which they’re tossed around so lightly within the “intro” books makes me wonder if perhaps the true depth and intent isn’t being lost. From what I gather speaking with many people just starting off on this branch of their path, my suspicions are confirmed.
Somehow the sacred aspect has been lost and the term now implies nothing more than a space, either a space in which one has their altar or simply a space where they store their supplies and tools. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise when the purpose of an altar seems to have become nothing more than a place to store tools rather than the sacred place dedicated to the worship of one’s God(s) that it is truly supposed to be. Somehow, and almost seemingly quite deliberate, the sacredness is being stripped out of our spirituality and the mystery is being forgotten.
So, what is Sacred Space? Quite literally, it is any place that is considered sacred or has been made to be such. This is often maintained through repeated affirmations of the locations sacredness, i.e. frequent worship of local spirits or other Deities to which the space has been dedicated, or other such forms of spiritual expression and reverence.
One of the unique aspects of Wicca and many expressions of Neo-Paganism that is truly of benefit to us is that because we view all the Earth as sacred (either due to a belief of a connection that we all share that includes the natural world or due to a belief that all the physical is an expression or manifestation of the Divine, i.e. pantheism,) our Sacred Space isn’t confined to any rules or delineation. There are no specifications for elaborate buildings, no requirements for directional alignment or internal allotment. Rather, our Sacred Space is wherever we create it, whenever we need it, with whatever we deem essential. It needn’t be in a set, permanent location and doesn’t have to include an altar. It is a place where you do your sacred work that you create as necessary
As such, on one occasion, our Sacred Space may be found inside a basement, with an ornate altar setup including every magickal tool one could imagine and life size statuary of the Gods being honored, the next it may be a simple forest clearing with the only tools being one’s breath and intention. Another time, Sacred Space may be entirely internal, a “space” we create in our minds on the commute to work to give thanks for the gorgeous weather and prepare for the day ahead.
However, there is something to be said about using the same physical location frequently as one’s Sacred Space, for truly, that place is rendered Sacred. There is a subtle change that occurs in the energy of the place. Often, this can even be felt by those of differing faiths and practices (after all, how many of us have entered a Church or Mosque and felt the power of that place, the sense of awe it inspires, the feeling of peace, even though we may believe differently than those who gather there to worship?) Often, too, the place may become attractive to various energetic beings. For example, a forest that is frequently used to host rituals may become truly enchanted, with heightened occurrences of faerie sightings and such. The place has a feeling of calm, of wonder, and lights within us a childlike sense of awe and amazement. These are the defining traits of Sacred Space, not the ornamental trappings, but the way in which that space is used and the way it makes us feel.