What Is A Sacred Space?

I’ve been to exquisite gardens that didn’t transport or transform me and I’ve experienced time stand still in an orchard corner where some forgotten Cornus kousa flowered away amongst long grass.

The Cosmic Gardener

That’s my idea of a sacred space. Somewhere that makes me feel whole and alive. A place where I feel connected to the earth; it’s atoms. forms and interconnections.

The sacredness of a place is a two way thing. A garden or piece of land can be transportative just because it is as it is and a piece of land or a garden can become sacred because of things done to and in it.

All matter is made up of countless vibrating particles and all the forms we are and see are interacting on levels that we can’t see all the time. Sacred space occurs when there is no dissonance between all the forms, particles and unknowns in that space.

Pilgrimage, reverence and ceremony are all ways that help the human mind to shed some of its busyness and petty concerns. When that happens it becomes easy to sense and harmonize with what actually is as opposed to the small world in our heads that is often our prison.

Fire circle

Image: The Message by Thomas Cooper Gotch [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

When I say sacred garden, what do I mean?

Thinking about the meaning and use of the word ‘sacred’ when we talk about sacred gardens.

The Cosmic Gardener

Dictionary definitions describe ‘sacred’ as something that is entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things.

The word ‘sacred’ has its roots in Latin:

There is sacrum, which refers to the gods and their sphere of influence and sacerdos, the word for priest and sanctum, which means somewhere set apart in the vicinity of a temple. When analysed this way, the word sacred turns out to have quite a specific meaning.

On checking out definitions, I find that the true meaning of the word ‘holy’ is much closer to my meaning when describing certain gardens and places.

The word holy has its roots in ‘hal’, an 11th century English word meaning whole. From hal came ‘halig’, meaning complete, sound, healthy, uninjured and entire. The Scots word ‘hale’ also comes from this root and means wholeness and health.

However the word holy as used today is inextricably linked to specific religious beliefs and practices, whereas ‘sacred’ has become a universally adaptive term.

Image: The Message by Thomas Cooper Gotch [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons