Hallowing: A (Short) Guide to Making Sacred

pbp1The idea of hallowing something, or making it sacred, is an interesting one to me. On the one hand, I believe that everything is already sacred — the sacred is in the profane, the mystic in the mundane. On the other hand, I definitely think it’s possible to make something sacred. And somehow these two ideas don’t contradict each other in my brain.

When you make something sacred, you are setting it aside. That is what sacrifice means; it means to put something aside, to designate it, to distinguish it. If I hallow a chalice to receive water as an offering to the ancestors, I am saying that this chalice will be used for watering the ancestors only. (Insert Plants vs. Zombies joke here.)

Dedicating is a similar idea. Last year on Walpurgisnacht I dedicated my rose-tipped flogger to the Morrigan. I hallowed it to Her service.

Once something has been made sacred, or dedicated to service, it’s not generally a good idea to use it for anything else unless you already have a replacement lined up. This can sometimes be a point of contention with roommates or family members, especially in the case of offering dishes that need to get washed and get left in the drying rack for a little too long. (Refrain from putting roommate’s heads on spikes and decorating the lawn with them. That’s frowned upon in modern society.)

How do you hallow something? It needn’t be complicated. If you’re dedicating a tool to a specific purpose, you can use it for that purpose and simply state your intention to make it sacred. That’s really all it takes.

You can also sprinkle holy water on it; you can chant while holding it and visualizing it being filled with holy energy. (“I cast Holy at the darkness!”) You could read your favourite poem to it. The possibilities are probably endless. Find what works for you. What’s holy to you? What’s sacred to you? Use that to hallow the things in your life. There is no ‘one size fits all’ with holy work. (Just fyi, there is no ‘one size fits all’ with anything, anywhere, most especially clothing.)

There’s also making sacred space, an idea you’re no doubt familiar with if you’ve picked up any 101 Neo-Wicca book. Again, I believe all space is sacred because I believe everything is sacred, but it’s true that energy can collect in places, go stale, absorb negativity…before doing holy work in a place that hasn’t been cleansed of said energy, creating sacred space is a good idea. Creating sacred space is, in my experience, less about hallowing a space to a certain kind of work and more about cleaning out the energy that wouldn’t be conducive to that work. Really, though, they amount to the same thing: you’re making the space ready for the work you’re about to do.

Doing this where spirits are already inhabiting the area can be…tricky. If you’re out in nature to do a ritual or any other holy work I don’t see the purpose of creating sacred space. It’s already sacred, and going through the process of “creating” sacred space in such a place could seriously piss off the resident spirits. You’re coming into their home and throwing around cleansing agents. It’s the equivalent of coming into someone’s house and starting to scrub their counters, or worse.

Just ask the spirits if they’re okay with sharing their space before doing your ritual. Seriously. (And if they say no, fuck off and find a new place.) After, leaving them an offering of water in gratitude will go a long way to them welcoming you back.

If the outdoors place you’re in has been littered in, which is incredibly common in my experience, you can restore the sacredness of the space and please the spirits by picking up the litter and throwing it away (or recycling it if possible) in an appropriate receptacle. Doing this will greatly increase the chances of the spirits allowing you to use their homes for your holy work. Also it will just make you a decent human being. Just saying.

Indoors is a different matter. Generally speaking indoor spaces will be relatively free of endemic spirits, and you can create sacred space as you please. This is especially true for rented halls — those places have been used for all sorts of events, so different kinds of energy will have accumulated there. Hallowing the space before holy work is recommended.

For myself, I am currently living in my grandparents’ old place. I have not created sacred space there. I do my holy work, because I’m not going to stop doing that, but I don’t feel comfortable doing an energetic cleansing and dedicating of the space at this time. I feel Oma wouldn’t be okay with it, and I don’t wish to anger her. When I live in my own space, I will cleanse and hallow the place.

How do you create sacred space? This is up to the individual and, again, it needn’t be complicated. My preferred method is the standard four elements method (salt, water, incense, and a candle flame, walked or sprinkled around the room while I state my intention of cleansing it). Sometimes I’ll also sweep with a broom, sweeping all the old energy out the door. If I’m feeling lazy, I’ll just do some sage burning.

You can sing, too, to hallow space, or play music that has the right feeling of sacredness. If you want to do the four elements cleansing but can’t do incense, you can use bells for air instead. (And if you can’t use a candle, use a flashlight!)

Overall, hallowing is important but it needn’t be solemn, or perfect. This is a place where intent does matter.

Do you have a favoured method of hallowing items or spaces? If you feel like sharing, please do in the comments below!