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Setting Aside Sacred Space By Anika Tené Cazenave

Setting Aside Sacred Space

By Anika Tené Cazenave

With the current focus on spirituality especially for the elder children of Mother

Gaia, many people are considering how best to set aside space for their ancestors,

rituals, and meditations among other practices. While I believe that all space is sacred

because it is part of the earth, it is important to note that intentionally creating a

physical environment for your spiritual practice helps to facilitate the transition between

that practice and our other daily activities. The Western paradigm of

compartmentalization has touched nearly all areas of the globe and many of us are

forced to separate our spiritual practice from our secular lives. While this is not ideal

particularly for the elder children of Mother Gaia, it is an unfortunate reality we must

often navigate. For this reason, altar, ritual, and meditation space can make the

difference between surviving and thriving. Here is a brief guide to creating that space

for yourself.

First, set the intention for your sacred space. What purpose is it meant to serve?

Is this an ancestral altar, a meditation room, a working altar for conjuration? Or will this

space serve a variety of functions including the ones I mentioned. The function of your

sacred space depends upon your needs and the size of the space available. If you are

limited in physical space, then perhaps shelving may help you maximize the types of

altars you want to create. If you have an expansive abode, then you can dedicate an

entire room for spiritual practice and divide the location into areas suitable for each

purpose. The key thing to remember is everyone can create an altar even if it is a

temporary one that goes back into a box when you are done with your practice.

Second, determine the location of your sacred space. It should be somewhere you

can easily access it but that is not necessarily accessible to other’s prying eyes and

curious hands. Certain traditional practices recommend not placing altars for ancestors

and other entities in your bedroom, however that protocol may not be practical for you.

If you do have to have an ancestral or similar altar in your bedroom it is recommended

to cover it with a white cloth when you are not actively engaging with those spirits.

Third, decorate and adorn your sacred space. This altar is a collaboration

between yourself and your spiritual guides. Place beautiful stones, fountains, statues,

etc. on your altar. Listen to your internal guidance about what is needed, what needs to

stay, and what should go. Please be aware that Orisha traditions do not create altars to

an Orisha without the person having received that Orisha in legitimate ceremonies from

priests with acknowledge lineages. If you feel called to work with certain energies, it is

respectful to determine what the protocols are for working with those energies and

follow those protocols.

Fourth, consecrate your space. During the construction phase you should have

cleansed the area and items going on your altar including any tables and shelving you

may use. After constructing your altar, you should invite positive energy into the space.

Make it sacred and personal to you. Remember to keep cleansing and consecrating

regularly to keep the energy at your altar positive and flowing. Below I have given

general guidelines on how to create an ancestral altar.

General Guidelines for Creating and Ancestral Altar

Items needed:

Table or shelf

White cloth


White flowers

White candle

Clear glass

Pictures of ancestors not including living people

Objects belonging to ancestors

Objects requested by ancestors or that they might have liked


1) Cleanse the table or shelving

2) Cleanse all items to go on the altar with a mixture of salt water and Florida


3) Place the with cloth on the table or shelving

4) Place the white candle in the center with the clear glass filled with water and

the vase of flowers arranged around it

5) Place the pictures and objects around the table or shelving in a manner

pleasing to you and your ancestors. Trust your intuition in this.

6) Consecrate your altar through prayer and ask your ancestors to be with you in

the space.

7) Place any offerings including food and drink on the altar.

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