|Rustic pulpit, March 16th, 1879, from the Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views @ Wikicommons.|
Quite possibly the only churchy-indoor-space that might compel me to darken its doorstep.
We have been moving, again. I do believe we have reached a frequency of moving that qualifies as absurd. Or completely mad. Or something. This time, the distance is short & very hopefully permanent -- as far as Alaska goes. Please knock on a tree, table, pressboard, masonite now, please.
There was much damage control to be done in the new unit & much demolition & rebuilding & remodeling has happened. We retire every evening exhausted & tense, but with increasing hope that this has a conclusion which is nearing ever closer with each strenuous day. Now that the grunt work has significantly abated, our efforts have turned to squeezing as much swank into each square foot as humanly possible. This is the part of the process that has gotten me thinking -- thinking about space...
When I talk to other pagan folk about "sacred" spaces & places, it always seems that they fall into one or the other side of the indoor/outdoor dichotomy. This is one of those subjects where people seem to have strong feelings. The Druids ("Oh, those Druids...") pretty universally go outside. Alaskan Druids don't seem to care if its so cold outside that it hurts to breathe. Out they go. In corresponding with other animists, it sure seems like we also have that tendency, often struggling with issues over being house-bound. On the other hand, my Thelemite cohorts prefer to be indoors, or so it seems for the most of them. Then again, Thelema has all those specifications & rules for worship which seem to require a dedicated indoor space. Wiccans, ("Oh, those Wiccans...") seem to be the most plastic about space, but perhaps this is because their "sacred space" is created by circle-casting. As individuals however, they do seem to have strong personal tendencies, for example, the High Priest; he prefers indoors, period. But, we all know the hedgewitch-types who prefer the outdoors.
This brings me to my quandary: How does space feed the spirit? More specifically, as I look ahead to the coming months of intensive indoor dwelling, I wonder how can we design/create indoor space that inspires & nourishes the soul (in particular, of the outdoors-oriented worshipper), a place where I won't spend quite so much time gazing longingly out the window at the Darkness?
I have been trying to remember the time before the altar-altering mushroom incident when I worked to create "sacred spaces" indoors, trying to remember the thoughts in an old book I have stored away in the desert house entitled, A Home for the Soul, trying to remember what it was about certain small Mexican churches my mother & I visited in Albuquerque, trying to grasp what gives the niches & meditation spaces on temple grounds of the Rosicruscian Order, AMORC their set apart, otherworldly, "sacred" feeling. What is it that transforms a people-space & imbues it with a sense of spiritual significance?
I am thinking it is, to a large extent, art.
But not entirely because the range of human "sacred spaces" stretches from the the most baroque, rococo cathedrals, to the "rustic pulpit" pictured above, to the streamlined simplicity of a reflecting pool. Art is part of this, but not the all of it. So, what is it? What are the cues that tell us a people-place is hallowed, "spiritual" or "sacred"? What is it that whispers to our subconscious, "This place is special, pause a moment & feed your soul..."? This, I would like to understand.