Finding a sacred space for worship and spellwork can be a problem for many Pagans. Although Paganism is a nature-based spiritual path many of today’s practitioners have limited access to an outdoor area that is both convenient and secluded enough that they feel safe doing rituals there. Also there is the danger from the local environment; even in Britain with its’ lack of venomous insects and reptiles there are still unexpected dangers ranging from loose pigs protecting their food source or young, to the simple getting lost.
Even if you do find such a spot it’s energies can attract unwanted attention. Many years ago I found the ideal spot on a rocky outcrop overlooking the ocean near where I lived in Portsmouth (UK). It was far enough away from any attractions like pubs and clubs, that it was deserted after dark and I could take all my tools – candles, firepot, herbs etc. – and sit in a clear area amongst the boulders and look out to sea. At certain times of the year the full moon would appear to hover above the ocean in just the right place to send a pathway of light that, if sitting correctly, appeared to lead right to the large stone I used as an altar.
The whole area had a very special feeling. During the day although tourists and day trippers came through the area they tended to stick to the paths so, apart from always having to check for dog mess before settling in to do my rituals, it remained relatively undisturbed, absorbing the energies of the turning seasons that I could channel during my celebrations and spellwork. It was probably this special feeling that prompted the city council to build a gigantic pyramid two stones throw away from my sacred site.
Called imaginatively “The Pyramids” it was a combination swimming centre and nightclub and, once it was open, people flocked to it. The peace and quiet of the night was shattered by the loud noise from the nightclub and drunken patrons roamed all over the site I used to use leaving litter and worse in their wake. I had to try to find a new area to in which to practice in but none was available. Portsmouth is a very crowded city and that must have been the last quiet area along the entire four-mile stretch of coast.
I had heard of building temples and other sacred spaces on the Astral and this seemed to be the time to do it. In earlier times this was a popular way of having a fully functioning temple without the dangers of it being discovered, or revealing yourself as a Pagan or Ritual Mage. Another term for these constructions was “Memory Palaces” and they were used extensively by the intelligenceia of the Renaissance to store information in a useful manner so that it could easily be recalled.
The simplest way to begin is to take a building or other area you know really well, and walk through it in reality if possible or purely in your imagination. Really notice it using the techniques outlined in the article on “Developing and Enhancing Your Visualization Skills”. If you are working purely from memory then these techniques should make the experience even more vivid as you have to fill in the details of feel, smell and sound. Keep practicing until the place in your mind feels as real as the one on the physical plane
When your visualization becomes ‘real’ in your mind you can start to expand it to include your ideal sacred space using the area you built up in your imagination as either an entrance way to your sacred space, or alter it to become your sacred space. This technique of changing the place in the mind was used by memory palace practitioners as a way of storing information symbolically in a way that made it easy to recall. This is also useful for customising the mental site for ritual, magick, and similar purposes.
So far we have looked at the construction of our sacred space from a purely psychological point of view, how do we transfer it to the Astral?
The answer is: we already have!
The Astral Plane overlays and interpenetrates the physical and mental planes similar to a sort of malleable and condensable ‘fluid’ sometimes referred to as the “Astral Light”. It can hold a shape, but is very unstable and tends to disintegrate as soon as the person stops imagining/visualizing. The way to overcome this is to apply pressure to it through the concentrated imagery techniques outlined above. This pressure makes the impression firmer and more durable the more it is applied.
Duration and intensity are the main foundations of all constructions on the Astral. A building that has been on the same spot physically but has undergone constant alterations will have a weaker presence on the Astral Plane than one that has been in existence for a shorter time but has stayed in one shape. The intensity of the impact that the building makes on people also affects the speed that stability is achieved.
This impression is not always an exact replica of the building. When I became a visiting Pagan Chaplain for my local high security prison I visited it during a lucid dream (one of the most effective ways of Astral Projection). On the physical plane it was a pretty standard HMP (Her Majesty’s Prison) with high walls, razor wire, and reasonable security. On the Astral it looked like the Disney castle on steroids - complete with turrets and a moat(!).
With time and practice your sacred sanctuary will attain a stability and reality comparable with any on the physical plane. This is not to say you shouldn’t favour a physical plane sacred place or temple too, but an Astral one is useful for those times when you cannot get to it, or aren’t allowed one. Ideally as a Pagan you should favour a sacred spot in the natural world and enhance its’ existence on the Astral plane thus getting the best of both Planes.
As you may imagine this is what I did, re-creating my spot on the coast pre Pyramids while also working at another site I had found off the island on which Portsmouth is built. This means that if I am travelling, or the physical site is otherwise inaccessible I can still use the coastal one on the Astral and I can also access it for meditation and self healing rituals. As you will find as you explore this technique it is a very useful one with a multitude of applications with limits only set by yourself.