To Build Sacred Space or Not to Build Sacred Space?

In Wicca, many Wicca-inspired Pagan religions, and in other Pagan religions, there is the concept of “sacred space” and the creation of it. I’m going to assume for purposes of brevity that everyone reading this post knows what sacred space is and is meant to accomplish. Good, now we can get right into the discussion.

Not every Pagan religion sees building sacred space as a necessity. My experience with Ár nDraíocht Féin–otherwise known as A Druid Fellowship, or simply ADF–has shown me this. ADF has no place set aside in their rituals for the building sacred space. Their reasoning is that the Earth itself is sacred no matter what we do or have done to it, thus there is no need to set aside sacred space. The ground you walk on is already sacred.

I can get behind that; I agree the Earth is already sacred by virtue of being our home, a massive ecosystem of thousands and millions of living species, and a deity consciousness in and of itself.

On the other hand, I found myself unable to connect with ADF ritual in part because of this lack, which may seem strange. What is it I missed, if I agree the Earth is sacred and building sacred space is unnecessary?

While I may not believe it’s necessary to build sacred space, I do see value in the creation of ritual space. For me, it’s about creating a space that is separate from the mundane in order to psychologically prepare you for the work of ritual and magic. ADF ritual did not do this for me. I often felt disconnected from the spirituality of the ritual and the working because nothing happened to psychologically prepare me for it. This is not to say I never had experiences, or never experienced a good ritual with ADF, it just means I often felt like someone on the outside looking in and not a full participant in the experience.

That, to me, is what ritual space is for. It is a mechanism to psychologically and emotionally prepare participants to engage and experience their spirituality. Whatever the theme, environment, or overall feel a ritual is meant to have–because not all rituals are solemn, quiet affairs–building a ritual space to hold it separate from mundane space is something I find extremely helpful.

I’ve begun the process of working on a formula for building ritual space for Chaos Paganism. When it reaches its final iteration, my intention is for this to be a formula by which someone can build either temporary ritual space, or a permanent spiritual temple if they have room in their home or in a shared space for such a thing.

I’m not yet at a place where I feel comfortable sharing what I’ve come up with yet; like everything I’m creating with Chaos Paganism, I want to wait until after I’ve practiced it myself and seen if it actually works as intended before sharing the details.

Of course I haven’t done much in recent weeks; I just moved thousands of miles from the place I’ve always called home and all my energy has been focused on that transition. I don’t know at what point I will feel at home and be able to focus on other things again. I’m in this weird limbo headspace where I’m not exactly homesick for the place I left–I had very good reasons for leaving–but I’m not really settled in here, yet. It doesn’t really read as home yet.

I know, I know, always some excuse.

About the Author

Celestine Nox is a Pagan in the Southern U.S. about to escape to Massachusetts. Perpetual wanderer and seeker, she's terrible at structure and ritual but desires both greatly. Working on creating a structure that works for her and maybe some others is the majority of her current work as a Pagan. Mystic and pragmatist, magician and scientist, Celestine is a bundle of contradictions--unless she's not and it all makes sense after all. She has a B.A. in English and a B.Sc in Psychology and is currently pursuing a M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, as well as a deeper relationship with various aspects of Death.

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2 Comments

  1. As an ADF ritualist, I agree that we need to build >>something<>mindspace<<: either by quieting down, grounding and centering, processing/singing (my personal favorite.) This allows us to shift our minds from mundane space to a sacred/ritual/head space.

    I suppose "making the space sacred" does mostly the same thing as people "enter" the space in a ritual way so they agree it's sacred. I guess ADF just tries to achieve the same end via a less "the Earth is corrupt" sort of viewpoint.

    1. Hello!

      Yes, I think you’re right; even just taking a moment to ground and center would go a long way toward preparing people in an ADF ritual for experiencing the ritual in a more spiritual headspace. Something, anything, to say “this is something different from your mundane life.

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