Creating Sacred Space in a Busy Life
I am a busy woman. I have a ton of responsibilities on my plate – and that’s just the things that I am obligated to do. Factor in the things I want to devote my time to – friends, family, hobbies – and my time becomes even more precious. I am sure that your life is similarly filled with things – obligations, responsibilities, leisure activities…
So the question becomes, as a modern Pagan, how do we fit in the practice of our faith in a meaningful way on a daily basis? Sure, we can usually carve out time for Sabbat rituals and festivals – even gatherings – but it is the daily practice that defines and refines our various paths. So how, when we all have so many responsibilities and obligations crowding on on us, do we make practicing our religion a daily habit?
I thought I would share some of the ways I have found help make finding that sacred space a little easier.
One thing I have found that helps me keep my practice at the forefront of my life is by tending my altar. That may seem like a somewhat frivolous thing, but for me it is the center of my practice. Over the years I have had various altar spaces.When I lived in my parents’ house, I kept a ‘secret’ non-altar style altar on a bookshelf. I kept tokens and symbols there – nothing overt or obvious, but things meaningful to me. When I moved out on my own, I had a workroom set up with my altar and worktable all together. It was nice having a dedicated space, but that didn’t last very long. I got married and had children, and my altar got pared down to a couple of pillar candles, incense and a dish on a small bedside table, and pared down again and moved on my headboard for quite some time when my children were small.
Now that my children are older, I have a formal altar set up in my bedroom, and several other, smaller altars, set up throughout the house. My primary altar is the one in my bedroom. I change the decorations and items on it with the sabbats, and have different things ‘working’ throughout the month. I also keep things that I’ve made with my Teaching Circle group, tokens that I find during the month, and bits of whatever I am studying or working on at the moment.
I try to take a minute and consider the day at my altar in the morning. I offer devotions to my patrons and/or whomever I feel drawn to that day, and give thanks. I sometimes pull a rune from my rune bag, or pull a card from my tarot deck for the day and consider the meaning or thought behind it. Not always; just when I feel I need to or unless I am doing a study of cards or runes. I keep a bowl of moon-blessed water on my altar, and I frequently dip into it with a word of blessing, thanks or devotion when I pass my altar. I also keep incense and burn it when meditating or working, not only at my altar but in other places in the house as well. In addition to daily devotions, I set aside a longer period of time at least once each week to devote to reading or meditating or connecting – something purposeful and meaningful.
I think that having my main altar in my bedroom and out of the public areas of the house helps me to keep it sacred. It doesn’t blend in with the rest of the furnishings, or into the background when things get so busy. There is little else in my bedroom, so as one of the main pieces of furniture in there, it continually is visible and at the forefront of my attention. My smaller altars in the kitchen and at my desk seem to get lost in the daily grind and I don’t tend them as diligently as I do my main altar. But they do serve their purpose, especially for the children – when we go out, they may bring something in to set on the altar as a token. Having those sacred spaces throughout the house helps them feed their spiritual natures as well.
Since making more time for my personal practice over the past year or so, I have realized how important the moon rites are, and how much I have been missing them. Since sometime around fall last year, I’ve been making note of the full and new moon – not necessarily doing a full Esbat ritual, but at least taking a little while to stop and consider the Goddess and the ebb and flow of the month as it passes. (Just to clarify, for my personal practice, I consider New and Full Moon Rites to be Esbats. Your practice may vary.) I try to spend some time outside, basking in the full moon light, or considering the complete dark of the new moon. At one of my local group’s recent moon rites, we created a New Moon Journal to write in. The idea has been to write things in it that we seek to manifest over the coming month, from the big and important to the small and inconsequential. There is definitely some truth to the ‘if you want it, write it down’ maxim. Having those things written as a goal of sorts keeps the subconscious working to achieve them.
Making a priority of keeping the Esbats and Sabbats has also made my personal practice more meaningful. Not only sharing ritual space with my circle mates and learning about their paths and practices, but also helping to clarify my own path and deciding what works for me want what doesn’t. Being around people who take their spirituality seriously helps a great deal. Just being around like-minded people at Teaching Circle has also made my personal practice more meaningful. Even when I am stressed out or tired, attending Circle and sharing in the vibrant energy of my mates is enormously helpful. The kinship and mutual respect and passion for the chosen path has definitely helped me want to keep my personal practice at the forefront of my life.
As always, there is more to learn, and more ways to make personal practice even more meaningful. Some of the things I would like to incorporate this year are:
- make Esbat incense to honor the lunar deities (Hecate, Artemis, Diana, Mani, Thoth, Osiris, Khonsu)
- talk with the children about setting up their own personal altars
- host a Circle gathering at my house
- read and review at least 4 pagan books here
- continue blogging about my journey
How do you create sacred space in your busy life?