I grew up in churches. Both of my parents were ministers, so from an early age, I knew that the sanctuary is just a large, elaborately decorated room with long pews that made for great hiding places and confusing games of tag.
It wasn’t until Sunday morning that the room changed into a sacred space. People gathered, candles were lit, the choir sang, and the pastor would give his or her sermon. A quiet grace would fill the air and wives would nudge husbands, bone-tired from tending the fields, into wakefulness at the end of the sermon.
The people were the ones who created the ritual. They turned the space from a large room into a sacred space through their agreement that their God was present. Their agreement that they were gathered to worship. Their agreement to sing together and laugh at the preacher’s corny joke and turn to each other to pass the peace.
We create our own rituals in all sorts of ways each day. Our myriad of habits can be seen as rituals, the fact that we put on our hat before our coat or the other way around. A ritual manifests a feeling, action, or quality. They can be as simple as making our tea just the way we like it, writing a to-do list, singing to our plants as we water them. We all perform these little rituals each day.
Sometimes, however, we need more. We need to create sacred space as a barrier from the world so we can pursue our necessary creative work, our quiet work, our holy work. This can feel impossible with the chaos of our daily lives! We may feel like there’s no space for us to do our work, that we don’t have the time to do our work, that we live an interrupted life.
Here’s the key….
We carry the sacred within each of us. Our surroundings don’t matter. Time doesn’t matter. The most important thing, the thing which brings the sacred quality into any space, is you. Your being. Your energy. Your soul.
And you bring those qualities into your ritual with you, using them to create space and time for your necessary work.
So, ask yourself the questions. What do you need to do to make the space feel sacred? What do you need to do to propel yourself into the activity you want to make sacred?
How do you create your own rituals?
Most simply, you set up your space, discover your right action, and perform those actions.
By “right action,” I mean the right action for you. The action that, when you perform it, feels so right and good that nothing else could have taken its place. These actions are performed almost without thinking, and help you achieve your goal. “Right action” is tied directly to that sacred spot in our souls and, following its lead, unlocks the sacred energy in you. Use those right actions to create your sacred space.
What Do You Want this Ritual to Manifest?
Do you want the ritual to put you into your creative mindset? Perhaps you want your plants to flourish or to enhance your romantic life. Or maybe you just need some time to figure out what you would want. You get to make this decision, and that is the first part of making the ritual your own.
Remember that a big part of your work in the ritual is inviting your sacred into your space. How do you want to do that? Do you want to use your call-a-diety option? You could invite the genius who lives in the walls to step into your office. Perhaps ask the muse who rushes through your space to pause for tea. Maybe the Goddess or God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Mother Nature or your ancestors will join you.
Close your eyes and picture the personification of the energy you’ve selected. Use that image to inform your following choices.
Select your Space
Go through your surroundings and select the space which most fully connects with your goal in the ritual. It could be a closet, or standing in front of your indoor garden, or at your workplace, or outside in a nearby park. You can perform rituals anywhere and anytime.
Connect to the Feeling
Within each goal, we have a feeling we want to tap into. It could be joy or sadness, relief, pleasure, pain, anger, forgiveness. What feelings do you want to experience as you perform your ritual, and what feelings you would like to experience at the end of your ritual?
Even as you read these words, there are probably feelings that immediately come to mind. Jot those down. No feeling is excluded from these spaces and rituals.
Also, consider the atmosphere that you want for your ritual. Should it be Witchy? Jazzy? Solemn? Whimsical? Embrace that energy and allow it to guide you as you create your ritual. Make it sacred. Make it profane. Make it mundane. Make it exciting. Infuse the ritual with your energy and invoke the energy you wish to experience.
Select Your Objects
We use objects as symbols within our rituals. They can serve as protection for the space, a way to unlock desired thoughts and feelings, a way to throw open the doors to creativity.
If you are unsure as to what objects to select, using a theme will help. You can tap into the four elements – Earth, Fire, Air, Water. Perhaps the four directions speak more to you – North, South, East, West. Maybe you’ll wish to engage all of your senses – Sight, Smell, Taste, Touch, Hearing.
Here are some options:
Light – How do you want to engage with light? Use the gentle light of candles or twinkle lights. Sunlight brings joyful and fierce energy while moonlight seems more peaceful and content. A fire burns and releases. Prisms change the light into a powerful and joyous rainbow.
Talismans & Crystals – Crystals unlock qualities and foster their energy in your space. I keep a chunk of amethyst on my desk to promote clarity, foster communication, and tap into my birth energy. If you have a gemstone or crystal with special significance, consider using it in your ritual.
Talismans have a particular symbolic or historic resonance that can assist you in tapping into certain energies quickly. For instance, a little duo of ninja erasers on my desk guards against my monsters as I work creatively. Using a piece of jewelry or clothing from an ancestor can call the feeling of that person into your space.
Plants – In all of their forms, plants can be used in our rituals to engage all your senses. Herbs and spices have energies and meanings which have carried through the ages in the hearts and books of our foremothers. The language of flowers unlocks the beauty and wisdom of our hearts. Essential oils may be used at multiple points during rituals to evoke feelings or invoke a power within
Spiritual Tools – Tapping into your spiritual side can be done using a myriad of available tools. Finding the one which resonates is key. Tarot cards, i ching coins, dice, runes, angel cards, automatic writing, a holy book—all may be incorporated into your ritual.
Movement – Expressing through dance and other movements engages your entire being. As you genuinely tap into what you are looking to invoke, these movements will naturally occur. Be open to the call of your body.
Stillness – In the same way as movement, stillness allows your inner voice to break through the constant barrage of daily life. Using meditation or breathing in special ways begins to unlock the power of stillness.
Drawings – Drawings and symbols invoke different qualities, hold the essence of people or things, or express your emotions around the ritual. You might burn them as a symbolic release or draw them during the ritual to call the energy you want into your space.
Write Your Ritual
As you feel the ritual coming together, words will naturally arise. You may find that poetry, a piece of prose, and/or a quote embody the quality or power you are invoking through your ritual. You may want to say a prayer or just use single words. You may want to sing a song. Remember that this is your ritual. Use the words and the form of the words that are the most right for you.
Write down all the words and actions you’ll perform during your ritual. This will help it become clearer in your mind. As you write it, try speaking words aloud and doing the movements as a practice. These tiny practices will show you what feels awkward or not quite right, and will support you in making changes before the actual performance.
Performing Your Ritual
Once you have made all your decisions, gathered your objects, and written your words, it’s time to go to your chosen space and perform your ritual.
And when you are done, make your notes. If it needs to be changed next time, make the changes.
And come back to do it again.