A Sacred Space
“You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you. This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be. This is the place of creative incubation. At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”
– Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
Today we get to revisit Lorraine. 😊
If you remember, Kate and Lorraine are my grandmothers. Click here to read the introduction to these gals.
Lorraine is a teacher. Think: Alice-in-Wonderland meets Virginia Woolf meets Charlotte’s Web. Lorraine is classic, evergreen. Lorraine is a listener. Lorraine is Earth and Water. Lorraine is a bit dreamy yet calm and grounded. A mysterious depth. Lorraine is bare feet, an easy laugh, and all-natural swept-back hair. Lorraine evokes nature, books, crystals, imagination and wonder, piano music and a fireside game of scrabble. Hippie-Librarian vibes.
What comes to mind when I think of Lorraine in reference to this month’s theme of the Nest is the creation of a Sacred Space. This is a different type of nest that you carve out for you and only you. This is a private nest that cultivates magic and nurtures your soul. I started thinking about incorporating a sacred space into my home when I first learned of the concept in Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book, “Simple Abundance” in 1998. It took me a few years to actually carve out sacred space however -- more on that later -- but I've had one now in my various homes for the past 15 years. Depending on the house I was inhabiting at the time, my sacred space has been anything from a shoe box on the top shelf of my bedroom closet to a medicine cabinet to an entire room that is entirely mine. No matter what size your sacred space is, it is a place to bring together your magic.
Sarah Ban Breathnach introduced the concept as “a sacred spot to celebrate, concentrate, and consecrate your inner work”. This can be a tiny little bench in a hallway, a windowsill, or a special place in your home for a yoga mat and a pillow. It is a place to get quiet and go within. It is a place to listen and receive. It is a place to set intentions, clear yourself of old, dusty thoughts and feelings and call in your new day. Once you pull together a space in your home with this intention, it will exude a feeling of safety and love that will make its way into your being. You will begin to think more clearly. You will begin to feel braver. You will receive more inspiration and have more energy to act on those "pings" of inspiration.
Julia Cameron, best known for her book “The Artist’s Way”, tells us “In order to stay easily and happily creative, we need to stay spiritually centered. This is easier to do if we allow ourselves centering rituals. It is important that we devise these ourselves from the elements that feel holy and happy to us.”
When I first learned of creating a sacred space in the home, I was hesitant because I’m not religious. Most sacred spaces refer to creating “an alter” somewhere in your home. It didn’t resonate with me until I opened up to the idea that spirit can be found anywhere, not just in a church or a religious item like a cross or a rosary. I respect those items as beautiful and powerful, but I’ve never been drawn to them personally. Then it occurred to me that Lorraine had created alters to nature and alters to imagination & story telling all over her home. Her alters did radiate a magical energy and inspired all who entered the house.
I don’t remember Lorraine ever talking about purposefully creating a “sacred space” in her home, but she definitely had collections of sacred objects everywhere. You could find magic in every corner. Nature was her religion, and she surrounded herself with it whether she was indoors or out. She was always bringing the outdoors into the house. Bundles of beautiful branches forcing blooms in the winter or wildflowers in the summer or leaves pressed into books or a beautiful stone or a feather she picked up during one of her frequent walks in the woods adjacent to the house. Words was another religion of hers, so she also surrounded herself with books and quotes. Books filled the shelves and stacked on tabletops. Favorite quotes were written on scraps of paper and tacked to walls … there were “sacred spaces” all over her house.
So – I opened up to the idea. It was a time when I needed a little magic in my life, and I was willing to try anything. I started by carving out an hour once a month to retreat to the same space of my home to kneel and pray. This was my first sacred space. It was a time and a place that I carved out for my spirit alone. The hour was midnight, and the time of the month was the full moon, and the space of my home was a spot on my kitchen floor where the moonlight hit. Once per month, I tiptoed down to that 3’x3’ patch of kitchen tile and I would kneel and pray. My life began to shift.
Next, I gathered special items into a shoe box that carried deep meaning to me and seemed to carry a magical vibe: a book, a picture of my children, a token from my childhood …. and I would carry the shoe box down to the kitchen floor with me to be a part of my sacred space and ritual.
My sacred spaces continued to evolve and grow as my life shifted and evolved. When my husband and I moved into our current home 7 years ago, I wept at the realization that there was an odd extra space at the back of the master bathroom with absolutely no purpose. It was meant for me. I made the announcement to all of my family members that this would be my sacred space, and they have each honored the declaration. It is a hallowed place, and they all respect it as mine. When we first moved in, I hung a tapestry on the wall that I purchased on a special trip to Greece with my college roommate and I plunked a yoga mat on the floor and that was it! Over the years, I've added a writing desk and a soft ottoman to perch on while meditating. I've added shelves to the back wall that serve double duty as a beautiful spot to store my jewelry and organize ever-changing "alters" and vessels (baskets, a vintage suitcase, photo boxes, etc.) that store all manner of magical items.
Now that we're all working from home, I'm spending more time than ever in my sacred space. It is so much more than a home office, and I work to keep it that way. I can imagine a time when I might want to pair it down again to the simple yoga mat. This is the beauty of the sacred space = there are absolutely No Rules.
Pictures Top-to-Bottom / Left-to-Right:
My Sacred Space
Very special books that I'd never loan out
An "alter" including a card from a dear friend that I framed, acorns and a twig in the shape of a wizard's broomstick brought home from a recent hike, a rose petal from my Mother's Day bouquet, an antique turquoise ring that holds special meaning
Another "alter" including artwork from my daughter, a picture of cherry blossoms the kids and I used to pass every morning on our way to the bus stop when they were small, stones from a walk along the beach and a string of Jade my husband brought back from Asia
A hidden corner in my sacred space with a special note my daughter wrote on the wall for me to discover after she returned to college
My wish for you is that today you begin to open up to creating your own sacred space in your own corner of the world, and then you will experience Joseph Campbell's words, "At first you may find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.”