Not all Druids feel the need to delineate/create sacred space (otherwise known as preparing the nemeton) as described previously. Especially when working out of doors, some do not “cast a circle” as is popular in other traditions, feeling that there is no need as they are out there to connect and commune with the world around them, and that all is sacred, therefore we cannot “create” sacred space in any sense. This is why it is sometimes referred to as delineating sacred space, which in effect means to delineate the area that we are working in, to narrow the focus down to a specific point. However, this again can be too confining for some Druids, and so they forego the practice altogether. In Wicca, a circle is cast mostly to contain the energies raised within ritual, and some Druids today use a similar reason for their creation/delineation of ritual space. However, others see this as irrelevant to Druid practice, and so do not incorporate it at all.
In my practice, I delineate sacred space or prepare the nemeton when working with others, so that we are “all on the same page”. What this means is that we are working with the energies of a delineated space, to narrow the focus, so for example we would raise a boundary of energy around the entirety of the back garden, so that we can focus on what is happening in that area, as sometimes widening the focus can be too distracting, what with everything going on all around us at any given time. This way, we can really concentrate on using a smaller area, the microcosm of the macrocosm. However, when working alone I don’t feel the need, usually, to delineate the space as my personal nemeton is sufficient. Much of it depends on my mood, where I am and what feels most appropriate. When casting the circle or delineating sacred space, we can push out energy from our own bodies or expand our own nemeton, and say something similar to the following:
I now cast/create this sacred space, a nemeton of inspiration wherein to do my work.
If we wish, we can use a tool such as a staff, wand or a blade to direct the energy that we are pushing out of ourselves to delineate the sacred space. I use my sickle in this action.
We can then ask the spirits of place, and/or the realms of Land, Sea and Sky to overlay the nemeton:
Spirits of place, lend your energy to my nemeton, that it may be strong. Guide, guard and bless my work.
May the Realm of the Land provide this nemeton with stability, may the Realm of the Sea provide it with love and may the Realm of the Sky provide it with inspiration.
When overlaying it in this manner, you can create a space that has been encircled three times, defining a temple space and strengthening it with this triplicity, something which I’m sure our ancient Celtic ancestors would have appreciated.
We can then consecrate the space, should we feel the need. I carry incense and water, normally, to represent earth, air, fire and water. Sometimes I simply smudge the area with mugwort. If I have nothing to hand, for instance when I’m doing impromptu ritual out in the wilds, I might simply ask for a blessing on the space in lieu of consecration. You may say something like:
I now consecrate this area through the powers of earth, fire and air and water.
I now consecrate this area through the powers of Land, Sea and Sky
I ask a blessing on this sacred space, from the spirits of place, the gods and the ancestors.
When closing down the ritual, you then will take down the nemeton, if you have created one, in a similar fashion to that which you created it, but perhaps in reverse order. If you created it in a triple manner as in the example above, you might walk the circumference three times to take it down, drawing the energy back into yourself, or the tool with which you may have cast the circle, perhaps walking in the opposite direction to which you created the sacred space:
I now release this sacred space, the nemeton of inspiration wherein my work/ritual/celebration was done.
I use my sickle to “cut” the circle and draw the energy back into the blade. Then, if it’s a triple cast circle, I also honour the spirits of place and the three realms for their part in the designation/delineation of sacred space.
Spirits of place, thank you for bringing your energies to my nemeton; I ask that it be released into the world for positive change and transformation.
May the Realms of the Land, Sea and Sky release the energy of this circle, to flow throughout the worlds in respect and in harmony.
This is basically all there is to creating/designating/delineating sacred space. It is a simple and yet beautiful way to create a temple in which to work, one that leaves no trace behind except our songs and stories on the wind.
Joanna van der Hoeven is a Druid, Witch and a best-selling author. She has been working in Pagan traditions for over 20 years. She is the Director of Druid College UK, helping to re-weave the connection to the land and teaching a modern interpretation of the ancient Celtic religion. She has published many renowned books on Druidry including The Awen Alone: Walking the Path of the Solitary Druid and Zen Druidry: Living a Natural Life, With Full Awareness.