What follows is a preview from my up-coming book. The direction this second book has taken is rather different from that which was originally intended. I have written, thrown away, re-written and chopped, mutilated, and chomped. What is now to come out of the pages is a far more focused view. This book will specifically examine Sacred Space, why we use it, what we use it for, the directions, various methods of creating Sacred Space, and the like. It is only a portion of what the original book was supposed to be, but a portion that is being expanded on to form a more thorough study of the concept. I hope you enjoy this little tidbit.
. . . do we create Sacred Space, when we stand on the body of the Great Earth Mother, who is Sacred to begin with? The answers to this question are many. In our own day and age where people pollute the land and the sky with not only their trash and allowing their chemicals to leak into the waters that run back to the Well of Wyrd, but also with their disrespect in general. Bottles, packets, cans, are not the only forms of disrespect to our Earth, but how we senselessly and arrogantly feel we can take from Her, and construct monstrosities upon her. When a new building is erected, does the architect consider how it will affect the Earth and the environment? Does the architect even attempt to appease the beauty of the land by adding to it in a way in which it is aesthetically related to the land? Are alternative means of power and heating ever thought through? Or do we just feel we need a home or an office to live or work in and deposit a whole load of bricks onto the land, creating block after block, seas of town houses spreading across the valleys where once stood flowing waves of tall grass, constantly stripping the land of more and more raw materials to generate door frames, walls, roofs, piping, glass, and electricity.Being an architect myself, I battle with these concepts each and every day. How can I help to make the Land sacred once more? I can attempt to add as many natural ways in which to heat and power the home, find alternative materials that do not strip the Land of its resources. Unfortunately there is a limit to how much can be done in this regard, but every little bit helps to return the Land to what it once was. Green living and design is a very necessary thing. I’m not a fanatic Tree-Hugger, but I do love the Earth that I tread on every day. We do need fuels, we do need metals to create tools that have become necessary for us to live. We do need security and we do need commerce. What we also need is moderation. As a people we have lost sight of the Land and what we are doing to it. As a people we have become ignorant of the beauty around us. As a people, we are failing. As a people, we need to remember, to re-establish, to re-gain respect for not only the Land, but for ourselves. We need to stop stripping and taking, and start giving back. Solar energy has been around for many, many years, but how many people have even considered using solar energy to provide all of the power within their house and take themselves off the grid that pumps electricity into our many appliances? How many of us have considered doing the same with wind energy? Sure these things take raw materials in order to be created, but once manufactured, they are using what is naturally given to us in order that we may live our comfortable lives in our nicely heated and snug homes.
Making Sacred Space for ritual is not just about entering a Magical Circle to perform Spellwork, Pathworkings, or any other form of Magical practice, and then leaving it behind. That Sacred Space, which is a Temple, is not the only space, whether it be a spot in your garden or a room in your house, that should be sacred. If you are living a magical life, sacredness of space should extend beyond that single ritual spot. It should extend into your entire home, your entire garden. Your whole stand or plot, is your sacred space, your very own sacred space, and within that space is your Temple, where you meet with the Powers and step through the Looking Glass. From there, you could then start pushing the boundaries beyond the perimeter of your own space, into the land beyond.However, this is one of the reasons that we create Sacred Space. The Land itself has become polluted and so if we wish to connect to the Land and journey into the Womb of the Mother, we find ourselves in need of a Gateway. We therefore take a piece of that Land and cut it out of this reality, blessing it, purifying it and making is sacred through our own saining, as a dedication to the Powers that run within it, making a stepping stone for us to venture beyond the cruelty of our mundane, careless cousin.
But this is not the only reason. A space where you are functioning as a Creatrix is another. When the Magician steps into the site that has been allocated as the Temple, he or she is stepping into a mini-cosmos. The space becomes an extension of the microcosmic body that they themselves are, swirling energy forming a sphere, with them in the Centre. It is an extension of the Divine Energy of God, that energy which flows in and through all things, connecting all things, and creating an equilibrium that continues to flow upon its proper course. As an extension of the God within, the Magician then creates, moulds, forms, shifts, connects. Certain Powers and energies are conjured up in order to enhance the Sacredness of the Working Space, to add benefit to the Operations that take place.Yet another reason is the need and functionality of a Gateway, where the Magician will move between the Worlds. The Sacred Space then acts as a compass with various Mystical Landscapes mapped out around it, moving from one bubble of Intent to an alternate or non-ordinary reality.
Depending on the need of the Magician and the type of work they are planning, the use of Sacred Space can alter. Apart from those mentioned above, the Magician may also be working with Spirits that they feel need to remain outside the mini-cosmos they have created, protected from the influx of unwanted energies, and contain that Spirit’s force or essence within a specifically defined space.One must remember though, that not all Circles need to be constructed with protective forces. In the instance of someone going to meet with a familiar entity, god or goddess within the Mystical Lands, it would not be entirely correct to go along with an army of bodyguards. This in itself could be construed by the entity you are wishing to meet with, as mistrust of them. Think about it, if a friend of yours came knocking on your front door and upon opened it you were faced with a handful of body-guards before you were allowed to speak to your friend, would you not question the trust that friend had in you? Would you not just close the door and tell them to go away and stop wasting your time? Tell them to come back when they feel they can have a normal relationship and friendship with you? Well I would, and so do the Gods.
We must then define what is protective and what is not. I personally feel that if I call the Archangels at the cardinal points, I am not always asking for a protective element. Such Forces are not there just to protect the Doorways, they also bring aspects of Power with them, aspects of the elements, and of qualities that are necessary for the forming of the Sacred Space that will enclose you in a sphere that is then placed between. They add to the necessity of shifting realities. Aligning with them, the essence and the energies they provide, aligns you with the Cosmos as a whole. And so we require a better understanding of these Forces and Powers that evoke, and we need to define the Intent behind our calling.
. . . is a Sacred Space or Circle? We could also ask, what is the Compass Round? What is the Squared Circle? What is the Mill? The formation of Sacred Space can vary a great deal from Tradition to Tradition.Interestingly enough, William G. Gray said in his book, An Outlook on Our Inner Western Way
(now being published by The Sangreal Sodality Press, 2008), that, “We can trace those same symbols yet—attached to the typical image of a Western cowboy… Another type of rope was woven purely from horsehair and had an extremely useful purpose. It was laid in a circle round men sleeping on the open ground where snakes were likely to be moving at night. No snake would crawl across a horsehair rope because the stiff hairs stuck between their scales and hurt them. Thus we get a symbolic picture of a man in his magic circle, safe against the intrusions of evil.”The Circle itself is also squared, in that although we form a circle, we move from cardinal point to cardinal point, four in all, which forms a square within the circle. However, we can also consider it to be octagonal if we then take the cross-quartered positions of north-east, north-west, etc. The reason it is considered squared is because the main functionality of the Circle comes from the main cardinal points, the cross-quarter points act as minor Gateways with specific Intent. Unless Working a Chaos Magick Circle, you would not be pulling in and pushing out energy through the cross-quarter positions. In Chaos Magick constructions, we would be working with Light and Dark Energy which comes in and out of the Circle through alternating positions, four being the main cardinal points, and four being the cross-quarter points. However, this does not mean that only the Chaote recognizes these in between points on the compass, in fact many, if not all, recognize them, but with a different intent. If one celebrates the Fire Festivals together with the Solstices and Equinoxes (Lesser and Greater Sabbats), then all eight points have a recognition within the Circle or Wheel. In other cases, there may be an assignment of certain Gods to the eight points. It is very dependant on the Tradition one is working with.
Defining the space that we work in is often done via walking or treading the perimeter together with a chant. This circumambulation can be found in all Circle constructions and all Traditions, again in varying forms. In Wiccan Circles we may have the simple walking of the Circle with the various elements, building up a perimeter. In other Traditions, we get a physical treading or stomping that creates a flow of energy in a circular pattern, and this, in many cases, is considered to be a Mill Treading, whether it is called that or not, it can be found in similar patterning throughout. In Traditional British Witchcraft it is literally called Treading the Mill whereby the attendees within the Circle or Compass Round, tread the perimeter as if pushing the wheel of the Mill itself. The Cosmos is considered to be the Mill, which as Roy Bowers noted when referring to Old Dame Fate and the Cauldron Mystery, “spins without motion”. The whole of the Cosmos spins around a Centre, the further you are from the Centre, the more motion you will encounter and experience. The closer you get to the Centre, the lesser that flow of motion, and yet always spinning. It is very similar to the mention of the pendulum swing mentioned in The Kybalion by “Three Initiates”, which states that the closer you get to the fulcrum of the pendulum, the lesser are the effects of the swing.This treading can also be found in the Giraffe Dance of the San Bushmen, mentioned in Jan Fries’ book, Seidways, which speaks of the attendees taking small steps around the central fire in order to raise !Num up the spine into the head where they explode into the Cosmos as it become Kia. Again, in Practical or Shamanic Kabbalistic practices, we find that the space is defined by stomping the circle seven times and chanting as we stomp.
And so we have certain patterns that are familiar. Defining the Space with physical movement and chanting, the four main cardinal points, and the evocation of certain Powers or Forces.What we do need to take heed of is the fact that the Sacred Space is not just a formation of a circle on the ground we find our feet upon. The “Circle” is actually a sphere. From the line we create on the ground or in the air before us, we also need to extend energy up and down, cutting through the earth, to form a bubble. If we do not, we are merely spinning in a two dimensional state, whereas we need to spin in all directions possible. We also need to consider what is taking place within the Sacred Space and its formation in regards to energy. Too many people make the mistake of standing in the various and required positions and saying the particular words that they have been instructed to say in order to evoke that point or position. Why is this a mistake? Because all they are doing is saying words. Are they considering the movement of the energies? Are they pushing out energy into that direction and allowing the Forces to flow back along those lines? Are they turning the Mill, which takes an Intent to move the energy around the circle, or are they just stomping and chanting words happily and haphazardly? In many cases, they are not even considering the flow of energy, but just going about the motions in a reverent manner and looking impressive to anyone watching. If you really want to demonstrate your magical prowess, it is far more impressive to not do anything physical and allow them to feel the touch of the energy, than it is to merely look pretty and say all the right words. Sure, the by-standers and audience will probably say, “Wow, he must really know what he is doing because he looked so good and impressive”, but when they encounter someone who can actually touch them deep down inside, they will realize their previous misconception, and the phrase from their lips will alter from that mentioned above, into, “Wow, he really does know what he is doing”, but oftentimes will in fact leave them speechless with tears running down their cheeks.