One of the first things people usually do when they decide to be pagan is to create some sort of altar space. Even if you've been practicing for a while, it's sometimes a challenge to create a space that's both inviting and practical.
Here are five tips for making the space in your life to worship, practice, and just be in tune with your spirit:
1. Sacred space exists, really, in contrast to the busyness and distractions of normal life. It is created, or discovered, with the intent of quieting the monkey-mind of your social persona and creating the opportunity to rest, meditate, and somehow nourish your spiritual self. When you think about this, it doesn't even have to be a "space" per se -- it could be a time, or a method. If you don't have a lot of space, or have roommates, your "sacred space" could be in your car after work, it could be in your head listening to music that elevates and transports you, or it could be at your kitchen table early in the morning before even the sun is there to see you. Be creative.
2. Size isn't everything. Your space doesn't need to be huge, or even well-decorated. Of course it's nice to be able to have a room, or a special altar, but don't feel bad if your environment doesn't support this or if you live with roommates or family that present problems. You can create an altar in a cigar box or an altoids tin, or use a lap desk. You can prop up an oracle card and light a tea-light. As long as you think it's special, it's perfect.
3. Keep it Simple. It's tempting to get "all the things" and end up with a cluttered space. This can be a problem if you want to do different things at your altar, like general meditation, work with a specific deity, or daily devotions. If you only have one altar area, it's a good idea to keep the accoutrements to a minimum so that it can be multipurpose. You can always store stuff in baskets or containers and bring them out as needed. You can also have just one item, like a special candle, that signifies "sacred space" to you no matter where you bring it.
4. Keep your space living. It's easy to end up having your spiritual devotions become thoughtless habits like any others, things that you just do that may or may not have meaning anymore. It's also easy to get bored and lazy and let the dust and the incense ash build up and keep around tools you don't even use anymore. Clean your space and swap things out so that your space reflects you and your needs at the moment, and don't hesitate to bring in items from nature that keep your space connected to the turning of the wheel.
5. Have different spaces for different purposes. We have a seasonal altar for celebrating the sabbats and the aspects of the changing seasons, our own personal altars for doing daily work, and a less cluttered, minimal altar in a tiny room for meditation and journeying. You can usually get away with keeping a seasonal altar even if you have roommates or family that don't approve of your paganism; it just looks like decoration.
We'd love to hear back about what your altars look like, and how you bring sacred space into your busy lives. Write us here or find us on Facebook and let us know!