Sacred Space & Sacred Practices

Sacred Practices

Sacred Space & Sacred Practices

Last Updated on December 18, 2017 by Coven of the Goddess


Meditation is a practice that is utilized by every faith tradition. The form of meditation that I will be teaching in this class is the practice that I have learned from the Tibetan Buddhist lineage. This is the first level of mastering the mind for magickal work.

At its most basic, meditation is the practice of clearing & quieting the mind. This is easier than it sounds. Our minds are constantly humming with activity. A meditation practice works to create more space in our minds by purposefully not thinking. The meditation practitioner works with her thoughts to recognize them as thoughts and then let them pass. This practice is also referred to as “mindful awareness.”

Meditation has the second purpose of working to help us to remain present. The mind often prefers to think about the past or the future, neither of which we can control. Meditation helps us to stay in the present, where we are the mistresses of our own domain, where we are responsible for our own choices, and where we do not invite the stress of trying to make up for things that have already happened or anticipate things that might occur in the future.

Meditation is not about trying to control our thoughts—our mind is programmed to think and it will do so naturally. Rather, it is about the discipline of presence. Working with the mind in meditation is often compared to trying to tame a wild horse or a monkey, even a puppy. The mind is like a child—it has a short attention span and is full of distraction—and meditation is the vehicle that is used to help to give the mind focus and clarity.

Quieting and disciplining the mind serve many purposes. For one, it helps us to relax when our minds are quiet. For another, it helps to literally create space in our mind and in our lives. For yet another, it slows us down, which in turn slows down our thoughts and even our bodies, which brings rest and rejuvenation.

The first step to meditation is posture. It is important to sit in a chair or on a cushion, stand, or lay down in a comfortable position. The major joints of the body—hips, shoulder, neck—should all be in alignment. The knees should not be higher than the hips. The feet or ankles should rest comfortably on the floor. The head should be in alignment with the neck, the chin slightly tucked. The spine is upright, like the head top is suspended from the ceiling. The hands rest gently on the knees or thighs.

When I meditate, I find it easiest to sit in a comfortable but supportive chair. I find this puts less stress on my ankles and knees and so I am able to meditate for longer periods. Many people who I know sit on a meditation cushion. Others roll up a blanket and sit on it. Still others stand in tasadana, or Mountain Pose. Some lay down; some sit on specially made meditation seats. Whatever works for you is what you should use.

The second step to meditation is relaxing, settling in, and coming into your body. Remember that meditation forces us to slow down. Part of the practice of meditation is to be mindful of one’s state of being. I like to use this time to take a deep, cleansing breath. I might also quickly clear my Chakras. I often meditate with an amethyst in my hand and so this is the time when I connect with that stone. I feel my seat under me, my feet on the floor. I might do a gentle stretch to help me to relax and become present in the moment. Then I am prepared to meditate.

The third step to meditation is the emptying of the mind. Many people and many different traditions have their own ways of doing this. Some traditions use a focus point or focus object, like a candle, to create a trance-like, contemplative state. Other traditions use a mantra, a tone or phrase repeated until it itself becomes nonsense. The mantra is sometimes connected to a specific universal state. Still other traditions rely on the breath as the anchor for the meditation.

I most often use my breath, combined with a simple mantra, to help to focus and discipline my mind to stay here, to stay in the now. This mantra is usually just “in” on my inhalation and “out” on my exhalation. The repetition of the mantra and the physical sensation of the breath moving help to keep me present.

Many people close their eyes when meditating, but there are also traditions that keep their eyes open. If you choose to keep your eyes open, keep your gaze soft and just in front of you to limit visual stimulation. If you choose to close your eyes, I find it helpful to turn my gaze inward to my third eye. Whether you meditate with your eyes open or closed is up to you. I have done both; by and large, I prefer to close my eyes. However, lying down & closing your eyes is a dangerous combination! Sleeping & meditating are not the same thing!

Even the best practitioners of meditation, holy men like the Dalai Lama himself, experience the “monkey mind” while meditating. The purpose of the meditation is to notice it and not to let the monkey run away with you! I have often had teachers use metaphors like clouds moving across a sky. When you are meditating, you are observing, but not following the clouds (thoughts). When you begin to follow a cloud/thought, you have strayed from the present. In that moment when you realize you are following a cloud/thought, you have a choice to return to the present. Each time you do so helps you to gain focus, clarity, and discipline. Often, teachers will recommend that you say to yourself “thinking” as this occurs and then let the thought (and all judgment about it) float on past.

When done properly, meditation is incredibly difficult but incredibly rewarding. When I first began meditating, I could remain still and present only for a few moments at a time. I found myself frustrated that I was so twitchy, that I felt uncomfortable, that I didn’t seem to be doing “it” right. Over time, I have increased my tolerance for meditation and have stopped judging myself about it. I can now meditate for almost an hour at a time without losing my present awareness. When I meditate regularly, I feel refreshed & restored. I feel a great sense of connection to the earth. And, best of all, I notice the space in my mind and in my life. It helps to put me, not my mind, in the driver’s seat, which increases my quality of life.



Witches use the power of visualization in nearly all of their magickal workings. Visualization is a simple method of channeling one’s thoughts and intentions. Through visualization, a Witch can imagine her will made manifest and through the imagining, create the reality she chooses. Many pagan practices rely on visualization, so a basic command of this skill is important. This is the second level of mastering the mind for magickal work.

Scientists are now learning that all matter is made up of energy at a quantum level. What they are also learning is that subtle shifts in that energy lead to changes. This is often referred to as The Butterfly Effect, the theory that a butterfly flapping its wings in Texas could cause a hurricane in China.

Our thoughts are also made up of energy. At the most basic level, we are able to think the things we do because of electricity. The neurons in our brains communicate through a kind of chemical chatter. As they pass chemicals to and from one another at astonishing speeds, our thoughts, behaviors, and actions are created.

When we visualize something, our neurons begin sending messages to create the image in our minds. The more we visualize, the faster the neurons are able to send their messages. And, in fact, psychologists have found that the brain itself cannot perceive any difference between something visualized and something seen—the same parts of our brain are stimulated by both activities.

So, when we visualize (or imagine), we are creating the neural pathways that enable our thoughts to be perceived as, and ultimately become, reality. The electricity of our thoughts therefore works with and influences the electricity of all of the other quantum material that surrounds us. This is the science of magick and it all begins with visualization.
Some people seem to have a particularly difficult time visualizing. My personal belief for why this might be is that people are working too hard to visualize. They believe they are supposed to see something and then they are thinking about the fact that they are not seeing it, rather than concentrating on the creation of the image (this is why meditation is such an important foundation for visualization).

One easy way to begin visualizing is to look hard at object, with your eyes open, and then shut your eyes. The image of that object will be residual on your eyelids, like a movie on a screen. By visualizing, you can retain that object in your mind’s eye. The object is no longer there, but your eyes and brain still think it is!

Another easy way is to think about something that is important to you: a place, a loved one, a special object. Almost all of us can conjure that image up in our minds when we think of it, even if we’ve never actually been there. For example, I’ve never been to the Caribbean, but I can imagine a blue-green sea, white beach, and palm trees from the photographs that I’ve seen.

Just like meditation, visualization requires practice in order to get better. You might start with bringing easy images & memories to mind. As this becomes easier for you, you might advance to conjuring an image that someone mentions to you (for instance, imagine a clown). As this becomes easier, you might graduate to animating the object. A good one to practice is the Chakras: can you visualize the balls of light at each chakra point spinning in space? Another good one is when we cast circle: can you visualize a ring of blue or white flame/energy surrounding us as the circle is cut?
Once you feel you have mastered these mental images, you can begin to direct your visualizations. Creating & raising a cone of power is doing just that: the participants all direct their collective visualization into the center of the circle and then actually raise the energy up and out, like a laser beam through the sky.

For the purposes of this class, we will focus on working with basic visualizations to begin. We will advance to a bit more complex visualization in the next several sections.


One of the most basic visualizations is the practice of grounding, centering, and shielding. Many Witches use these practices everyday, while others may use them only while in circle. As one’s magick progresses, it becomes even more important to become skilled in these three practices in order to keep one’s physical and psychic health in tact.
As we build our own practices and power, we not only become stronger within ourselves, but we also grow more sensitive and more susceptible to energies, both those of individuals and also of groups. By being grounded, centered, and shielded, we can more adequately respond to these energetics and also keep ourselves focused and aligned with Spirit.


The practice of grounding is intended to use the energy of the Earth—literally. The energy of Earth is grounded energy. It is solid, immoveable, strong, stable, rooted. By using that energy, a Witch can keep her feet (or her butt) under her, no matter what the situation. That stabilizing energy also creates a foundation that the Witch can rely upon. And ultimately, grounding is also the process by which we return excess energy to the earth; we “ground” it out like we would ground an electrical wire or an appliance.

One simple and powerful way to ground is to physically sit on the earth. While seated on the earth, take a few deep breaths, and as you exhale, allow all your energy to flow out of you and back into the earth. I like to do this exercise while sitting on grass, and I let my fingers touch the earth, feeling the excess energy drain from my fingertips and into the grass.

Another form of grounding is to connect with the energy of the earth in an active, rather than passive, way. You can do this next activity in either a seated or standing position. It relies strongly on visualization.

Imagine your seat or your feet as the roots of a great tree. The roots descend deep into the earth where they take a firm hold. Just like a tree, the roots pull up essential nutrients and energy from the earth and into the body of the tree. Imagine your roots pushing down into the earth, deep and black beneath you, and pulling up refreshing nutrients. Imagine the roots thick and solid, anchoring you to the earth. Allow the nutrients (earth energy) to travel up your legs; feel it winding around you like vines, anchoring you to the earth. Allow the energy to move through your torso and into your chest, out your arms and fingertips, and up your neck and into your head. Allow the energy to burst from your crown chakra and melt down over you like molten rock, returning any excess energy to the ground, anchoring you to the earth. (This grounding can also be done with all four elements: the roots not only push through earth on their journey, but also through water and eventually into the molten core of the earth, which is fire. As the energy moves up and out of your body, it encounters the air that breezes through the leaves of the trees).

Once you practice grounding, it will become easier for you. You will be able to find your earth connection in an instant and will feel yourself become rooted, or allow yourself to return the energy to the earth. Patting yourself lightly and eating are other physical ways to “ground.”

Grounding is important at the beginning and at the end of magickal work. At the beginning, we use the earth’s energy for inspiration and connection; we use Her as the source for our magick. At the end of our work, we return the energy that we have borrowed to Her; we “ground down.”


Grounding & centering go hand in hand. Without a center, the energy of the earth would bubble up and flow through us without a clear channel, a clear purpose. Centering helps us to focus that energy so that we can use it for whatever we need it for.

Centering is a practice very similar to meditation; it is a stillness within ourselves that results in a feeling of calm power. Like grounding, once you begin to master centering, it will come easily and quickly to you.

I have three favorite centering practices; they all lead to the same end. One is just a simple, deep belly breath. I close my eyes and breathe deep into my literal center. In three breaths, I have found the still point within. The second is similar: I focus on what is known as the dan-tien in Tai Chi. The dan-tien is an energy point located just behind the naval, right around the solar plexus. I will either close my eyes, or turn my gaze inward, and locate this point of power and stillness. By looking for the point, I come into the present and become centered, both in my body and in my mind.
The last centering practice that I like to use is to imagine a tendril, or a pendulum, or a plumb line suspending from the ceiling, coursing through my spine, and then plunging straight into the ground below me. As a result, my body is aligned and the “weight” of the plumb line pulls me into a state of centeredness. You can also imagine this as an anchor, or a beam of red light connecting your root chakra to the earth.

As you progress, you’ll be able to ground & center all at once. I think each Witch develops her own style of doing this. Each tradition also has its own style, too. What matters is that we are anchored before doing our work, solid & connected to the earth, and that we are channelling the energy of the Goddess, not relying solely on our own power.


We have all unconsciously experienced and used shielding. When we’re at a party and we don’t want someone to come and talk to us, we use our minds and our will to make ourselves invisible. When we’re walking alone at night, we mentally put up our defenses to prepare for danger. When someone yells at us, or is rude to us, we respond energetically by becoming defensive. To shield ourselves from danger is a natural response.
As a Witch, a shield is useful to us for all kinds of reasons. One is to deflect negative energies sent our way by someone else. This might be as mundane as that person we work with who drives us crazy to someone who is physically or psychically attempting to harm or drain us. Another is to keep our own self in-tact and energized when doing magickal work, especially when we are working with other people. Yet another is the shield we might use when performing healing magick, like Reiki, or channeling, or shamanic/trance work, that prevents us from picking up too much residual energy from the person we are helping.

A shield does not harm anyone else; rather, it truly shields us from them. It deflects and reflects the energy. It protects us from harm.

Like other forms of magick, and visualization, shielding relies on our intent. It is an important habit to practice as it can be easy to forget to do. And, our shield can change from moment to moment throughout the day, depending on what we are faced with.

Here is a simple shielding activity:

Imagine a blue light at your crown. Slowly, this light expands over you, coating you in bright blue light. It is thick and viscous and pours over you like molasses. It coats every part of you. Once you imagine yourself completed covered in this blue light, it will respond to you. Determine how close you need to wear your shield. Does it want to be right up against your skin? Or, do you need to push it out of ways to protect you? Imagine the light-suit filling with air until it expands to the distance you need it to be. It is now a bright blue egg of light around you, protecting you.
If it is easier for you, you can also imagine this light as bright white light. You can also imagine the egg already around you, and expand it to fit your needs. You can also imagine yourself wearing a coat or cloak of mirrors that reflects energy back toward the sender. Or, perhaps a cloak of invisibility! Shields, just like all our magick, are what we make them, and they respond to our needs but only if our intention is clear.
We can also shield our homes, our offices, our vehicles, in the same way.


Trance is the third level of mastering the mind for magickal work and involves an in-depth visualization that often takes the Witch on a spiritual journey for the purposes of transformation, understanding, or deep connection. Some of the most profound magick I have ever done or been a part of has been while I have been in a trance state. Trance can be achieved in a number of different ways; this class will introduce several.

Trance with Movement & Music

One way to achieve a trance state is through dancing, chanting, and drumming. These ancient practices connect us to the rhythm of the Mother and, in a sense, hypnotize us. The beat of the drum, like the beat of our heart, our mother’s heart, is something we can lose ourselves in.

This form of trance is more akin to the type of trance experienced by the Sufi whirling dervishes. These practitioners dance, twirl, and use their voices to alter reality.

What’s going on is real; movement and music both affect the chemicals of our brain that most closely resemble morphine. By producing chemicals that elevate our experience of ecstasy, we too can experience the abandon and ecstasy that comes with trance.

Hypnotic Trance

Not all of us are comfortable chanting, dancing, or drumming. Another type of trance can be achieved through hypnotic practices. For example, staring into a fire can “hypnotize” us. The dancing of the flames allows our mind to set free and lose itself. Watching others dance can have much of the same effect.

Other things can hypnotize us: water flowing, the wind, the movement of the clouds across the sky, an animal moving in the world, a flower, the gentle swaying of our body, floating in the water, even something as ubiquitous as the sound of traffic.

Trance Journeying

The most powerful form of trance (for me at least) is a trance journey. In some practices, this kind of journeying is referred to as shamanism, often involving shapeshifting or communion with animals or spirit guides. This form of trance is the basis for astral travel, an advanced form of magickal practice, as well as past life regression.
Like hypnotic trance, the trance journey often begins with a repetitive pattern that allows our mind to relax and open to the power of the trance. An easy technique to use is to imagine yourself walking down a descending staircase. As the staircase goes deeper into the earth, you go deeper into the trance state. From there, the journey may take many paths.
For most of us, a trance journey is more easily accomplished if someone else leads us. However, this is not always possible or practical. There are some good CD’s out there with “meditations” or “past life” visualizations on them that you can use alone. You can also record your own trance journey and then play it for yourself when you need to use it.
However, I have also had great success leading my own trance work. I get grounded & centered and then go a bit deeper. After that, I trust the Goddess to guide me where I need to go. Some of these trances have taken just a few moments, others have lasted over an hour. I often remember only fleeting images from my trance work, but I trust that the trance has affected me at a level that I may not be able to consciously access.

To do a trance, make sure that you are in safe, quiet place. If you are working with the trance yourself, alert a family member who can come looking for you if you get really deep, or use a chime to bring yourself back. Get comfortable. I prefer to sit up, in meditation position, as I often fall asleep when I lay down. Take a few deep, cleansing breaths. I always like to open my chakras before trance. When I’m ready, I close my eyes and begin.

For this class, we will use a pre-written trance, included in Starhawk’s new book, The Earth Path.
It is very, very important to be safe coming out of the trance. Sometimes you, or if you’re working with someone else, they, will be down so deep that you/they will need help coming back to the world. Use verbal cues to help the person return. Get back into your body. A chime or bell can be a signal to call people back; so can a drumbeat. Once you’ve returned, be gentle with yourself. Sit up slowly. Get something to eat and drink right away. Ground any excess energy back into the earth. Transition between your trance and your next activity deliberately; this is a great time to make an entry in your sacred journal.

Sacred Journal/Book of Mirrors/Book of Shadows

It is critical for a Witch to keep a log of her magickal workings. I keep four: a Book of Shadows where I record all of the basic information I need for my magick, a book of rituals where I record all of the rituals that I write/perform and that I am a part of, a Book of Mirrors/journal where I record all of my magickal workings and any results that I experience due to my work, and a sacred journal where I record all of my divination. I have known other Witches who keep even more, some who keep books for specific work like elements or particular pantheon of gods/goddesses. No matter which of these you decide to use, it becomes a personal reflection of your work as a Witch.

Your Book of Shadows

Before I started my BOS, I didn’t even know where to begin. Lots of authors have talked about what should go in the BOS, but nothing really spoke to me. I agonized over whether I would keep my BOS on-line or whether I would keep a bound book. And then I agonized over what my bound book should look like. And then I agonized over what to include. It was painful getting started!

What I settled on was a bound book where I could enter information by hand. Although I also keep lots of information on my computer and in my files, I like to, slowly, transfer it into my book. I also like to add art, poetry, anything that calls to me to belong there. The book that I bought is a large wire bound sketch book. They sell for about $15 at Barnes & Noble.

What goes in a BOS? Here are a few suggestions (and only suggestions!) to help get you started:

My goal for my BOS is for it to have everything that I need to reference as a Witch. I think of my book as a compendium, as a companion, where I notate the information that is important to me and my workings. Like my athame or cauldron, my BOS is a tool and so my purpose is to make it as useful as possible. It is also a work in progress, always expanding to accommodate my needs and new discoveries.

A Book of Mirrors

A Book of Mirrors differs from a Book of Shadows in that it is meant to be a place for your reflections. It might be a place where you record intimate thoughts, dreams, or visions. It might be the place where you capture the result of your magickal workings, your divinatory readings, or the private wishes you have made through your magick.
Some Witches put this information into their Book of Shadows. What I was originally taught about this, however, is that there is information in your BOS that you may share someday, with your own students, with your coven-mates, or even with your children or friends/family. The information in a Book of Mirrors is more intimate and is meant to be shared with the Goddess alone.

I don’t keep a Book of Mirrors, per se. Instead, I keep two sacred journals. In one, I write down spellworkings and their results, dreams I’ve had, memories or images, visualizations and powerful trance images that have come to me, and unusual or auspicious events. I always date the entries in my journal so I can track things as they occur.
I also keep a second journal specifically for the purposes of recording and tracking my divination work. I do divination using a number of different methods including Tarot, the Goddess oracle, pendulums, runes, and Medicine Cards. I record the results of those divinations in my divination journal. It is an important tool for helping me to track what has been occurring in my life over time and to look for patterns and/or deeper messages.

Bottom line: the way in which you record your magick is up to you. As you grow in your path, so too, will you grow in your comfort of recording and tracking your magickal progress.

Daily Practice

  • “Your life is your magick,” says Wiccan Elder Phyllis Curott. Through the way we are from day-to-day we build our power as Witches as well as deepen our connection to the Goddess. This section of the class will review simple and meaningful ways to bring daily rituals into our lives and provide suggestions and ideas for creating a meaningful daily practice.
  • One of my teachers once told me that a Witch had to be careful not to ask for too much at once from the Goddess, and to limit her spellworkings in order not to diffuse the magickal intention. I both agree & disagree with this and here’s why:
  • I believe that the Goddess is immanent within all beings. As it says in the Charge, if you seek that which you desire outside of yourself, you will never find it, because all of the answers exist within. However, I also believe that the Goddess surrounds us—She is the stuff that weaves the Universe together. Therefore, when we ask for assistance, we are both seeking the wisdom within ourselves to make things happen and asking for an energetic nudge from the cosmos.
  • I agree that too many spells at once can decrease and diffuse your magick, but not because the Goddess cannot respond—we cannot divert our attention in too many directions at once or it is we who become diffuse, hence diffusing our magick. However, I do not believe there is any limit to the kind of connection we can create with Her in our daily lives and, for me, that magick is far more powerful than any spell I have ever worked!!
  • When do I “do” magick? I do magick in circle, with all of you. I also do magick on my own when I have need—generally a simple candle spell and sometimes a more complicated ritual. And, I “do” magick everyday by connecting with the Goddess in the form of daily practice.
  • Here are some suggestions of how you can be mindful of and start to build your own connections:
  • When you wake in the morning, give thanks for another beautiful day, for your loved ones, your home, your life.
  • Buy and use shampoo, soap, etc. that is not tested on animals, is biodegradable, and comes in a recyclable or refillable container.
  • While in the shower, cleanse yourself physically with herbal soap and give thanks for the cleansing and healing properties of the herb.
  • Let the water of the shower “cleanse” you psychically. This is a perfect time to open and “rinse” your Chakras clean, as well as to ground, center, and shield.
  • Admire yourself in the mirror and say, “Thou art Goddess.”
  • Use color magick in your clothes. Needing passion or power? Wear red.
  • Wear sacred or special jewelry that uses symbols and/or stones to increase and heighten your connection.
  • Wear essential oils. When applying them to your skin, anoint yourself with a pentacle, a spiral, or other sacred shape.
  • Say blessings at mealtimes, out loud or quietly.
  • Shield your car, your home, your possessions, your pets, and other things you care about from harm on a daily basis.
  • Sage your car, your home, even your office to rid them of negative energy.
  • Talk to the Goddess. I like to do this best while I’m driving or walking alone.
  • During your day, practice seeing the Divine in every person, in the most irate customer, the most irritating co-worker, the most insolent child. Smile and think to yourself (or say aloud!) “Thou art Goddess.”
  • Take time each day to get outside. Sit or stand to ground, take a slow and mindful walk, practice yoga or tai chi on the grass, practice Reiki on the earth. Feel the wind on your face, the sun on your hair. Sense the changes in the humidity, the light, the animals, the earth itself.
  • Be kind and loving to your pets. Support and protect other animals and wild things.
  • Nurture your body (which is the body of the Goddess) by feeding it well, getting exercise, and drinking plenty of water.
  • Take note of what’s happening astrological: what is the phase of the moon? What is the Zodiac symbol? When is the moon void-of-course?
  • Correspond with your sisters via the e-group!
  • Greet the moon, the sun, the planets.
  • Talk to animals & plants. Get to know the species of plants and animals in your neighborhood and what they need.
  • Take note of coincidences and anything that is a manifestation of magick.
  • Ground, center, and shield periodically throughout the day.
  • Grow or tend plants.
  • Take time to write in your journal or Book of Shadows.
  • Set aside some time every day for your own personal work. This might be time to practice meditation or visualization, time for prayer, or time to do magickal work or study.
  • In bed, cleanse & close your Chakras to help you prepare for sleep.
  • Give thanks for your day.
  • Place herbs that help calm and promote sleep in your bedroom.
  • Make dream sachets with herbs and stones to place under your pillow to increase dreams and intuition.
    And this is just a short list! You will find your own powerful ways to connect with Her (and ultimately with yourself) on a daily basis and that will form the foundation of your spiritual connection, and a practice that can be maintained and sustained over time.

A Quick Note About Prayer

Do I pray? You bet I do. Like many of the practices that Witches use, prayer is found in all major wisdom traditions. Prayer, in my definition, is nothing more than talking to the Goddess. Sometimes, this may involve asking for something, for help, for an intercession, or for grace, but not always. I find that through prayer I become increasingly close to Her. My favorite way to pray is spontaneously, but you can also find or write your own beautiful prayers & blessings if you’re uncomfortable praying on the fly.

Comment (1)

  • Michele Reply

    Thank you, this is such a beautiful outline for a beginner such as myself. I can so easily relate to your writings and your descriptions are well written and easy to understand. Thank you, thank you!

    February 16, 2018 at 9:52 pm

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