“In my own situation, when I was between the ages of about eleven and fifteen, I was crazy about American Indians. My family bought me The Complete Works of Parkman, reports of the Bureau of Ethnology, and all sorts of other books on the subject. I had a very nice little library, with beautiful, bronze, Indian heads that were bookends, and Navajo rugs, and so on. Then the house burned down. It was a terrible crisis in our family. My grandmother was killed. All of my things were gone.
“I now realize that the sacred space I created for myself, the room in which I do my writing, is really a reconstruction—a reactivation, if you will—of my boy-hood space. When I go in there to write, I’m surround-ed by books that have helped me to find my way, and I recall moments of reading certain works that were particularly insightful. When I sit down to do the writing, I pay close attention to little ritual details—where the notepads and pencils are placed, that sort of thing—so that everything is exactly as I remember it having been before. It’s all a sort of ‘set-up’ that releases me. And since that space is associated with a certain kind of performance, it evokes that performance again. But the performance is play.
“Work begins when you don’t like what you’re doing. And if your life isn’t play, or if you are engaged in play and having no fun, well, quit! The spirit of the sacred space is Śiva dancing. All responsibilities are cast off. There are various ways of doing this casting off. and it doesn’t matter how it happens. The rest is play.”
Joseph Campbell in A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living.”
Sacred space has been an important part of my life since early childhood. I enjoyed Maori school friends, visited sacred Maori places, played Cowboys and Indians, I was always an Indian. My art at school was Indians on horse back. Now I have a Navajho prayer rug hand woven from ancient Navajho sheep. And memories of spending time on sacred lands of and with indigenous peoples. My large collection of Joseph Campbell languishes but will find a new explorer.
My first sacred space was reading under the blankets in bed. Westerns! Then my running. Then the nurturing of nature. In my first and second marriage it was yachts. New York’s TriBeCa had a separate room on the roof of my loft for writing. In Venice Beach I again had a yacht. A glorious place of retreat and with which to explore the Islands of Southern California. I then created a shearing shed like studio in which to edit, write and dream. Lastly in America my sacred space was an airstream trailer. For two years it followed my adventures in the American West. Searching for my self. Navajho guided my adventures into Betatakin. I filmed, photographed, hiked and slept in sacred places. I enjoyed dialogue with Paiute, Navajho, White River Apache, Pueblo, et al. On reflection, always reflecting, I wish I had gone deeper. Longer!
Before returning to Aotearoa, while hiking the Colorado Rockies, I bought, over the internet and sight/site unseen, a Roger Walker designed tree house with my very own Jungian Tower in which I spent countless hours writing and dreaming. Now in the South Wairarapa I have created a garden studio space for my self in which to create. To me the concept of a Tower, a place to go, to close off access to others, is creating sacred space. Today, I smile as my Power Wheel Chair appears to be my sacred space. Ironic. I spend all daylight hours in my sacred space. There are no mistakes in life! I love ‘doubting’ Thomas’s “god is within us and all around us”. The sacred never leaves me it is me that leaves me. Amen.