The sacred space of your person-
One of the common starting points to learn in magical practice is to have a place that reflects your magical work, such as an altar, a shrine, a shelf with special things on it, or whatever can work in your space. For years, mine was my bedside table, because I like to have an altar nearby, partially because I also like to lie down after to meditate and I don’t want to leave the space with candles burning. When my children got bigger, they loved to get into my things, more and more until I claimed a corner of a walk in closet in my 98 year old house. I have moved twice since then, and each time, found a place to be. None of them are perfect, but they work for me. The purpose of sacred space is have something that is set apart to be used for your ritual time, meditation time or study time. It triggers your mind to the idea that you’re about to do something special. You’re not headed out to put fuel in the car and you’re not mowing the lawn. While we can easily argue that everything we do can be sacred, it’s nice to have a spiritual home we can go to. We will talk more about creating such spaces in part II.
In the meantime, I would be remiss if I did not cover something very important, which is the sacred space that is YOU. Too many people leave this entirely behind and only catch up to it later, with some consequences attached to that. You are the central axis between three realms of existence: earth, sea, and sky. We’ll be talking about that a lot more in coming lessons. However, it’s easy to picture a sea realm below us, an earth realm to walk upon, and the sky above. What connects all of those things is us, or you can imagine a tree, whose roots reach deep to penetrate and find water, whose trunk stands firm in our apparent world, and whose branches reach into the heavens.
Likewise, the human being is reflective of all three realms. Our body resembles the earth realm, walking here in our daily world, made of minerals and metals and carbon, one with the dark soil that seeds grow in. Our emotions and subconscious are like the deep and mysterious sea, or the deep caves of the underworld. Our spirit, and our breath, are like the sky, airy and light, but powerful. Therefore, before we can learn to walk in those realms, we have to protect and nurture our selves. We have to look after our bodies, our emotional selves and our spirit. Our total self is our first and most important sacred space. With a broken person, we have a difficult time accessing magic.
This takes some work to consider. I, for example, have terrible habits in a lot of areas. I like caffeine way too much. It’s not good for my body and it’s probably not even good for my emotions. My sleep is terrible, but I’m working on that, and I don’t exercise enough. I ignore some of my more uncomfortable emotions and I sometimes overuse my words. What do you think you could work on? We all have our own stuff we’re working on, but since so many teachings leave out this time of whole person magic, I’m including it. It is also important for the sake of your energetic self protection as you begin this journey. A lot of people don’t get to spiritual self protection until they’re well down the magical path and that’s a bit like buying a flashlight when you get home from the hiking.
Here are the elements of good mind/body/spirit care. You will also probably come up with some of your own along the way.
-Lots of hydration
-Exercise and fresh air
-Activities you enjoy
-Quiet time when you need it
-New experiences to stretch your brain
-Trusting, loving relationships
-Time in nature
-Meditation, prayer, or other devotional activity.
You are unlikely to be perfect at all of those things and certainly not perfect at all of them simultaneously. Pick one to work on this week. Try another next week. Over time, you will be thinking about these whole-being improvements more often. Take a few notes in your journal/workbook that you are using for your nature reflections and plan to discuss them during teaching time.
Energetic self protection
A lot of people don’t learn some of these things until they are well along in their training but I believe it is critical to learn it up front. The truth is that in our day to day lives, we encounter tons of energy created by the environment, the emotions of ourselves and others, pollution, suffering, greed, anger, and a bunch of other things. Now and then, people direct their negative feelings right at you. Perhaps they are angry with you or you’re just in the crossfire. These are not magical people, perhaps, but ill will can hurt you just the same. On very rare occasion, perhaps a person has some magical talent and is also trying to hurt you. Again, this is rare. However, as you learn more, more magical people will begin to stumble upon you and you will meet folks you never expected. It seems to be the way of things. Some of the people you meet are very broken, and that’s true of all humans. You will also be encountering energetic forces of nature and spiritual beings. Therefore, it’s appropriate to learn quickly how to manage the “residue” these encounters leave. Some encounters are positive and helpful to you, and some just aren’t.
There are many ways to protect yourself and to shake off the residue of negative things or people you encounter. Below are just a few. If we are working together in real time, we will practice some of these together. However, some of these are things you should be doing regularly on your own. Below is a list of some examples from various sources and traditions. None of them are wrong; just find what you like.
–Visualization: This just requires your imagination and a few moments of concentration. Get your mind calm, and get a few minutes to yourself. Now, with eyes closed or open (mine are usually closed) envision a soft white light all around you. If your light is a different color, that’s okay. Imagine it slowly growing around you to wrap you in a beautiful misty, comfortable shelter. Allow the color to attach itself to any negative energy residue that attached to you, and neutralize it. When you are ready, on an exhale, let go of the vision of your light. If desired, follow up by lighting a candle, or taking a shower or bath.
–Smudging: You use a smoke of your choice for this. You can burn loose herbs on a charcoal in a fire safe dish, use a sage bundle, a stick of palo santo holy wood, or incense. You may have other ideas. If you use this method, begin by lighting your material, letting the smoke begin to trail and then waft it around yourself. Let it strip away the energetic build up from your day. The elements of fire and air are working for you in this case.
-Cleansing baths: This is one of my favorites. You can do it simply, or get elaborate with it. There are a ton of recipes for this, or you can go pure and simple. For a very simple and highly effective cleansing wash, use simple salt in clean water. It can be table salt. A lot of people like kosher salt or sea salt. If I’m doing a healing sort of cleanse or a cleanse right before an otherworld journey, I go for sea salt due to its otherworld influences. If I am cleansing some heavy stuff, I go for kosher salt if I have it. However, not all of us have this on hand. You can get it inexpensively at the grocery store, but if you don’t have it, don’t worry. Table salt will do the job. Dissolve the salt in some water. Put it in a basin. Put you and your basin in a shower or tub and use it with a wash cloth to wash your body in downward strokes, letting it strip off the energy. This works, seriously. I always feel it when I get out. It’s a noticeable change. When you have washed off with that salt water, pour the left over water down the drain and then continue your bath or shower as you usually would. If you can’t do this, you can always put some of the salt in the bottom of your tub or shower so your feet are in it while you bathe. That will do in a pinch.
If you want to get advanced with your cleansing baths, you can take certain protective and cleansing herbs, brew them into a tea, cool it, put your salt in it, and use that for your cleansing bath. This is great and highly effective, so you may want to try it in time. If you don’t already work with herbs and want a few recipe suggestions, just let me know. I have some favorites! Cleansing baths allow for the use of the elements of water and earth, both.
–Rest with a clear crystal: Yes, I know this is very “new age” but some of our mineral friends from our beautiful earth have some awesome power. You can hold one, or lie down and let it lay on your chest, put it under your pillow, etc. Clear quartz is outstanding for this and not hard to find. Selenite is good too but not as easy to find. When you choose a stone, just let it do its work. We are going to be working a lot with natural energies from our wild world so this is a good one to get used to. This technique is pure earth energy.
There are other options. Tones like bells, chimes, singing bowls and a whole ream of other options are out there but the above are the simplest and hopefully you will find one that you like. When you are preparing for magical work, it will be good to learn to do at least one of these techniques before you get going, so you are starting your magical engine (which is you) with a clean slate. You definitely want to do this before you begin serious ritual with a group. We’ll talk more about it if we are working together, but choose one of two of these to try, and keep a couple of notes about it for when we meet.