As some of you may know from my posts on Facebook and Instagram, in early 2020, I’ll be releasing the Plant Spirit Oracle as my second self-published divination deck (if you want to support the project, see link in the right sidebar with the Oak image). I described the Plant Spirit Oracle project a bit in an earlier post. For today’s post, I wanted to share a ritual space strategy that I developed as part of the PSO project–how to use a tarot or oracle deck to establish a sacred space.
The idea, in a nutshell, is that rather than calling in th elements or powers in a more static way, you can use an oracle deck to draw upon them in a more dynamic way. Thus, each time you create a sacred space, you will be asking the cards to help you select the right energies for the space. I’ve been using this in my own practices for about a year and it works beautifully. While the Plant Spirit Oracle is used and mentioned below, you can adapt this to be used with any oracle or tarot deck that you enjoy using–I have instructions at the end for how to do so. Most sacred space openings use one set of energy (e.g. calling air, fire, water, earth, and spirit) and the energy is always the same for any sacred space. This approach allows for the divine/spirit/nature (through the use of the divination deck) to call forth specific energies for a specific need–thus, spirit helps you create the specific sacred space you need. Thus, each sacred space you create using this method is different and unique to your specific circumstances.
The following segment on how to use the approach is adapted from the fourth chapter of the Plant Spirit Oracle book. While the first three chapters of the book focus on how to use the PSO as a divination tool, the last two chapters offer deeper work. The fourth chapter focuses on the ritual, magical, and spirit journeying approaches to working with plants in the PSO. The 5th chapter focuses on herbalism practices–thus, working deeply with the sacred plants both on the outer and inner planes. And without further delay, here is how to establish sacred space with an oracle deck!
Excerpt from the Plant Spirit Oracle Book: Establishing Sacred Space with the Plant Spirit Oracle
To do many of the deeper activities with the PSO as described in this chapter, you will want to establish a sacred space in which to work. You may even find it useful to establish a sacred space when using this oracle for meditation or divination purposes. Creating a sacred space can help you get into a more receptive mindset and clear away (and keep away) negative energies that may interfere in your work. It also helps you create a mental shift, shifting you from “everyday time” to “sacred time.”
Preliminaries: Setting up a physical space is an important part of establishing sacred space. If you are indoors, you might set up a small altar with candles, incense, herbs, and so on. This is also a place to put your PSO deck for use during the ceremony. If you are outdoors, find a quiet space you are drawn to, and, if you feel led, make a small natural altar from stones, sticks, flowers, and such. Lay out a cloth and your PSO deck in the center of the space.
Opening a Sacred Space
Step 1: Clear yourself and the space. Begin by using a technique to clear yourself and the area around you. For example, you can use a smoke cleansing (smudge) stick of dried herbs. Clear yourself and smudge the space. If you don’t have a smoke clearing stick, you can burn some kitchen herbs (Sage or Rosemary) on a piece of charcoal. Alternatively, make a strong tea of herbs (Sage, Rosemary) and then asperge yourself and the area by flicking drops of the tea around with a branch or your fingers. If you are outside, you can use a branch with leaves or pine needles to asperge the space. You can also use music, like ringing a bell, sounding a drum, or using a singing bowl.
Step 2: Declare your intent for the ceremony. Indicate to the spirits why you are establishing this sacred space. Are you working with the oracle for divination? Finding your plant spirit ally? Journeying? Let the spirits know. Here is an example: “Sacred plant spirits, I call to you to assist me in doing a plant spirit journey to learn deeper wisdom from the Reishi.”
Step 3: Shuffle your PSO deck. As you shuffle, keep your sacred intent for the ceremony in mind.
Step 4: Call forth four plant spirit allies. Now walk to the east with the oracle cards in hand. Hold the deck up to the east and say, “Spirits of the East! Powers of the Air! I call to you to reveal my eastern guardian.” Draw a card from the PSO and speak the plant’s name. Then say, “I thank you [plant] for your protection and wisdom this day.” Set the card down in the east as you move to the south.
In the south, repeat the above: “Spirits of the South! Powers of Fire! . . .”
Move to the west and repeat the above: “Spirits of the West! Powers of Water! . . .”
Move to the north and repeat the above: “Spirits of the North! Powers of the Earth! . . .”
Move to the center of your space put your deck on the ground. Say, “Spirits of the land beneath me, spirits of the interconnected web of all life, I call to you to reveal my guardian spirit below. . . .”
Stay in the center and raise your deck to the sky above you. Say, “Spirits of the skies above, the celestial turning wheel of the stars. I call to you to reveal my guardian spirit above. . . .”
Hold the deck to your chest and say, “Spirits of the spark of life, of the hope of regeneration. I call to you to reveal my guardian spirit within. . . .”
As you do all of this, you are physically creating a circle of cards around you (leave them for the duration of the ceremony if you feel so moved).
Step 5: Envision a circle of plant protection. Stand in the middle of your space and visualize the energies from the seven cards creating a powerful protective sphere of plant matter around your space. When you have this firmly visualized, say, “I thank the powers of nature and the plant spirits for their protection and healing.” Gather up your cards (or leave them in place, if you are not doing divination or do not need the full deck). The sacred space is now open.
Closing a Sacred Space
Once you have completed whatever work you want to do with the PSO, you should close out your sacred space. Closing out the space helps you return to normal space.
Step 1: Make an offering. Make an offering to the plant spirits who have helped you hold your space. If you do not have a physical offering, you can offer these words or your own:
“By bramble and by seed; by star and by thorn; by root and by bud, I honor you, great spirits of nature. Earth mother, plant spirits, thank you for your wisdom and guidance.”
Step 2: Thank the four directions and plant spirits. Now, move to the north and thank the plant spirit who protected the space, saying, “Spirits of the North, powers of Earth, and [plant spirit], thank you for your wisdom and protection this day.” Move to the west, south, and east, and repeat, phrasing appropriately.
Step 3. Return energy of the plant protection circle to the earth. Return to the center of your space and once again focus on the energy of the plant protection circle that you created. Envision any remaining energy moving out of the sphere and into the earth, for her healing and blessing.
Step 4: Close your space. Cross your arms and bow your head, saying, “I thank the plant spirits for their wisdom and blessings.”
Example Sacred Space Opening
Let’s say that you want to do a harvest ritual at the fall equinox to honor the many gifts you have been given, make offerings to spirit, and focus on the quiet of the winter that is to come. You decide to open up your space using the PSO (or another divination deck). Before beginning your ritual, you clear your mind and focus on the intent. Then, you do the opening ritual as above and you get the following cards at each of the seven directions:
There is a clear energy being brought into this space from drawing these particular cards. In the East, we have Spruce, which focuses on openness, journeys, and travel. In the south, we have Catnip, which focuses on opposites, contrasts, or separation. This energy may be helping us overcome those things (depending on the working), or bringing in that energy. In the west, we have Burdock, which is all about recovery, rest, and fallow periods. In the north is Comfrey, which is about resources, wealth, and personal action. The three center cards are Above/Oak: masculinity, strength, and wisdom; Below/Sweet flag: clarity, concentration, and insight; and bringing it all together is Within/Apple: abundance, comfort, and harvest. These energies, in their different positions, would lend you their strength–bringing in the openness, wisdom, and separation from the “always-on” mentality to allow you to rest; enjoying the resources that you were given; enjoying the abundance of the season. These cards would not only offer you a ritual space but some commentary on the nature of the ritual work you might want to do. They offer you a message on what to focus on as you proceed with your ritual.
Adapting this Practice for Other Oracle/Divination Decks
You can use this same sacred space opening and close with any other oracle deck. With that said, I suggest you choose carefully. An oracle deck with weird or dark energy will bring that same kind of energy into a working–which might be appropriate for your purposes or might not. Each oracle or divination deck has a mind of its own, and may or may not be open to this kind of work.
Regardless of what deck you use, this is a very accessible, and yet, deep way to craft a magical space for whatever purposes you might need. As I mentioned in the opening, the crowdfunding campaign was released this week to fund our print run. If you are interested in supporting the PSO, please visit the Indigogo page. We have original art, readings, and the chance to preorder book and deck sets! As always, thank you for reading and for your support. I hope you find this helpful–and blessings upon your journey this harvest season!