Consecrating Sacred Spaces - The Reenchantment of the World - The Way of Druid Magic

The Druid Magic Handbook: Ritual Magic Rooted in the Living Earth - John Michael Greer 2008

Consecrating Sacred Spaces
The Reenchantment of the World
The Way of Druid Magic

One further dimension of the Earth magic introduced in this chapter deserves discussion here. While it is inappropriate for anyone but experts and traditional elders to attempt intensive magical work with ancient holy sites, nothing prevents even a novice at Druid magic from creating a new sacred place and working with its energies. Since the power of the place will depend on your own skills as an enchanter, you can be sure you will not get in over your depth, and as your skills increase, so will the powers of the place you have enchanted.

A deeper issue also makes this a worthwhile option. In our disenchanted world, sacred spaces are few and far between, while cultures that embrace the art of enchantment and the holiness of nature usually create holy places all over the landscape. It is precisely at sacred places, where spiritual forces flow freely through the veils of matter, that the enchantments that once held the world in balance can most easily be rewoven; it is at sacred places where people can communicate most easily with the spiritual powers in nature, and where the blessings of the gods and goddesses flow most easily into the world.

Even the humblest and simplest of sacred places can have such effects. All over Japan today, for example, shrines dedicated to the indigenous Japanese nature religion, Shinto, can be found. Some of them are major religious sites with fulltime priests and priestesses, but many others are tiny precincts tucked in among houses or fields, visited by a traveling priest once a year, or stones set up along roadsides and marked only by a bit of carving and a few offerings. All of them, the simple stones as well as the great centers, provide contact points between people and the kami, the spiritual powers revered by Shinto. The same thing can be found all over the world where the living traditions of nature-centered spirituality have not been obliterated by the irrational “rationality” of industrial culture.

Certain practical issues have to be considered in any attempt to build sacred sites of the same kind here and now. The most important is that once you enchant a sacred place, it stays enchanted. According to some magical traditions, the consecration of a holy place lasts for 2,160 years, or one of the twelve astrological months of the Great Year, so you need to plan ahead! For this reason among others, you should be more than usually careful to be sure your intention is appropriate before beginning the work. Meditation and divination both have their places in this process, but much can be learned by simply sitting quietly in the place you hope to enchant, day after day, trying to feel the character of the space. Ask the land if it wishes to become a sacred place, and listen for the answer.

Traditionally each sacred place is under the guardianship of a god or goddess, and making contact with the deity of the place also forms part of the preliminary work. Whatever spiritual practices you find most useful should be put to work here. You may choose a deity for the place and then seek the deity's permission to dedicate the place to his or her worship, or you may simply find a place that seeks enchantment and then open yourself to whatever god or goddess desires to manifest there. Both approaches are traditional and effective, and whichever one fits your needs and the religious traditions you follow may be used. Since this dimension of the work belongs to religion rather than magic, however, no more will be said about it here.

The rituals you use to enchant your sacred space will similarly depend on the religious traditions you follow and the deity you intend to invoke. The magical side of the work may be done using any of the rituals for enchantment presented in this book, or by way of an original ritual designed to fit the details of the space and the purposes of the working. It often works well to open a grove in the usual way, perform the magical side of the enchantment, then invoke the god or goddess using whatever religious methods you prefer, and close in the usual way after a time for meditation and reflection. Once you enchant your holy place, whatever rituals you plan on doing there should begin as soon as possible thereafter, but this again will depend on the work you have in mind and the preferences of the deity you invoke.

A sacred space may also be enchanted through a series of workings. This works particularly well if you plan on making that classic Druid sacred space, a stone circle. One very effective approach starts by selecting eight stones for the circle plus a ninth for the central altar. On one of the Druid holy days, erect the stone corresponding to that day, and enchant it using the standing stone ritual already given in this chapter. On the next holy day, erect and enchant the next stone, and so on around the wheel of the year. On the anniversary of your placing the first stone, put in the altar stone, and at that time invoke the deity who will be the guardian of your stone circle. The result will be a powerful ritual and spiritual space. On the other hand, you can erect all the stones at once and enchant them one at a time as circumstances permit, and then use rituals performed regularly in your stone circle to finish the process of enchanting and empowering the place.

Beyond these few guidelines, you will need to work out your own approach to the art of crafting sacred space. If you have worked your way through the rituals and exercises in this book, you will have more than enough skill and experience to build and enchant a sacred space suited to your needs and those of the spiritual powers you wish to invoke. As industrial society moves further into its inevitable collision with ecological reality, skills and experience of this kind offer some of the few positive ways to bring humanity back into harmony with the living earth and begin the process of healing the damage that our species has caused over the last few centuries. What part you choose to play in that great work of Druid magic is up to you, for the Druid path offers no simple answers, and each of us who walks that path does so in a different way. May your journey bring joy to you and blessing to the Earth!