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CREATING SACRED SPACE
© Copyright 2003, All Rights Reserved.
In many books that you have read, no doubt you have been instructed to 'create sacred space' or 'cast a circle' and may have felt confused about just what, exactly, you were supposed to do and why. Creating sacred space or casting a circle means that you are changing the energy configuration of a room or space within a room to an energy which is neutral, cleansed of any extraneous vibrations that may not be helpful or may even be jarring to the ritual or ceremony that you are about to perform. Casting a circle contains, focuses and intensifies the energies that you will raise during your rite. By clearing, cleansing and sealing a space for your rites, the magickal energy can be contained and built up for the proper moment of release into the universe.
You cleanse and focus the energies within the shape of a circle because it is in a circular motion that magickal energies move. Just as our planet is round, it also rotates in a circular motion each day and moves in a circular motion around the Sun. Haven't you noticed that when you let the water out of your bathtub, the water swirls in a circle as it moves down the drain?
The creating of sacred space or casting of the circle can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. The main components regardless of the way you choose to do it are that you lay out the size of your space, mark the perimeters, cleanse the interior and take it down or release the energies at the end of your ritual.
Before you begin your ritual, you will need to decide if it is an internal or external working. In other words, is it a working that affects your subconscious mind like one to recall past life memories or to rid yourself of bad habits? Then it is an internal working - it affects you internally. If it is a ritual to affect the world around you - a prosperity spell or one to find the perfect job or home - then it is an external working. The reason you care is that for internal workings you will create your sacred space by directing the energies in an anti-clockwise (widdershins) direction which help to draw the energies inward. For external workings you will create your sacred space by moving and directing the energies in a clockwise (deosil) direction which spread and send energy outward.
If you will be casting your circle inside, clear the room of chairs, tables and anything that might obstruct your movements in any way as you move around the circle. If you will be outside, clear the area of rocks and sticks that you might painfully step on and choose a location which is relatively flat.
Assemble all the necessities of your rite (your candles, incenses, oils, magickal tools, charcoal, matches, salt, water and any odd & ends you want) on your altar which will be set up in the center of the circle facing north. When you set up your altar, place all of your tools on it in a balanced manner and put one lit white candle (called the Flame Candle) in the center of the altar. In each of the directions, place a candle at the edge of your circle for the Quarters.
You will begin by going to the north or east quarter of your circle. You will decide for yourself which quarter or direction you begin in - some people who practice a Nature oriented spirituality begin in the north, others who follow western ceremonial magickal traditions begin in the east for it is there that the sun rises). If you use a ritual knife, raise it high into the air above your head and begin filling it with energy from the universe around you, then drop your arm pointing the knife at the ground and send energy out of the knife into the ground, tracing the perimeter of the circle in a line of energy as you walk the inside of the perimeter, making sure you are marking out enough space to work in comfortably. If you do not use a knife, simply raise your writing arm over your head, fill yourself with energy and then drop your arm sending the energy out of your hand as you mark the perimeter of the circle.
Go to the altar in the center of your circle and pour some spring or distilled water into your chalice, then add 3 or 4 pinches of salt (for the element Earth). Go to the North or the East (wherever you started when you drew out your Circle - and sprinkle the salt/water as you walk the Circle completely, feeling the elements of Earth and Water cleansing the area and balancing it. If you wish to add a chant as your cleanse the Circle, it can help you to concentrate and visualize the cleansing even better. Return to the altar and light your charcoal in your incense burner with the white Flame Candle. Let the charcoal ignite completely then drop a small amount of incense onto it (this can be the incense specifically for your rite or a traditional cleansing incense such as frankincense or sage leaves). Go to the same starting quarter in the North or East and cense the circle as you walk the perimeter again with your incense burner. This represents the elements Fire and Air. Again, feel the elements of air and fire cleansing the area and balancing it.
Now it is time to invoke the Quarters. This means that you are inviting the energies of each of the elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, to bring power and balance to your circle. Earth is associated with the North quarter, Air is associated with the East quarter, Fire is associated with the South quarter and Water is associated with the West quarter. Once again, go to your starting quarter. Meditate on the qualities of that element (see energy associations below). There are many ways that you can invoke the quarters. You may wish to concentrate on the divine nature of that quarter and verbally or mentally address a deity of the element in your invocation. For example, you may wish to invoke the Earth goddess, Danu, for that quarter. Or you could address the quarter as 'Lord of the Earth'. Or, perhaps the animal correspondence strikes a responsive chord in you. Then you could begin by saying 'Great Bull of the North'. Use the correspondence that means the most to you and that seems the most appropriate to the rite you are doing. Don't mix correspondences, though. If you begin with a deity, invoke a deity for each quarter; if you begin with the animal association, use the animal associations for each quarter. As you are meditating on the element, light the candle in that quarter with the flame candle, pause and then go on to the next quarter. Again, meditate on the qualities of that element and then light its candle. Do this at each quarter.
After each quarter has been invoked, return to the altar and light the altar candles. Put out the Flame Candle and set it beneath the altar. Now your sacred space is created, cleansed and balanced - it is time to begin your rite. When your ritual is finished, it is time to release the energies creating the perimeter of your circle. Go to the quarter in which you began (north or east) and either verbally or mentally thank the powers of that element for attending your rite, then extinguish that quarter's candle. Do this at each quarter and finally extinguish the candles on your altar.
Those directions were for a more formal casting. If you wish to create sacred space in a less formalized fashion, you can stand in the center of the space that you will be using for your ceremony and connect your energies with those of the earth. With steady, quiet breathing, absorb into your body the energies of the earth and then project from your solar plexus (diaphragm) this energy while slowly turning until you have completed a circle around your self. As you turn, visualize the energy flowing from you in a band of light and project it far enough into the space to give yourself plenty of room to work. After you have completed your ritual, stand again in the center of the space, turn slowly and release the energy which has formed the perimeter of your circle back into the earth.
© Copyright 2005 Karen Charboneau-Harrison, All Rights Reserved.