Temple Construction

As Pagans, performing our workings outdoors is generally considered to be part and parcel of being a Pagan. However, for many of us, having an indoor space can be beneficial for many reasons. Be it nosy neighbors, no yard and no outdoor place to worship, 3 foot deep snow, or just somewhere to meditate undisturbed.

As a Practitioner who is involved with many magickal workings on a daily basis, and with nosy neighbors on one side, I work outside for Sabbats and Esbats, but I prefer to do some of my magickal workings indoors and decided a while ago to create a space specifically for doing so.

The creation of a 'Temple' or any Sacred Space can be a daunting idea for many people and for those who are not very creative ideas can seem difficult to come up with.

I am going to share the creation of my Temple with you all, as a way of inspiring you to make the most of your Sacred Spaces, both indoors and out. Hopefully the ideas I share here will give you the confidence to create a space which reflects your inner self, your Divine nature, and external expression of your connection to the Divine!

Creating The Temple

Firstly, before I was able to use any of my creative skills, came the task of emptying out our spare room. This was quite a task in itself, as many of you who have an unused room can probably attest to — they seem to attract all the useless stuff that is lying around, much like a black hole. I donated much of the stuff stored in the room to needier homes than our own, and what was left is now stored away in our garage

The next and probably most important step, was to properly prepare the walls — pre-washing with sugar soap to remove dust or oils from the paintwork, patching holes and sanding back to create a smooth working surface. Following this with another wash over with sugar soap, and then waiting until it was well and truly dry — I would give it at least 24 hours at this stage to ensure the walls are fully dry.

Deciding exactly what I wanted to do with the room came next — this is probably the hardest part — to try and collect all your ideas, into an actual workable project. My main aim was to create a place that would give me the feeling of being removed from the mundane from the moment I walked into the room. Luckily for me I am a creative person and with a background in art, I have many skills that enable me to create a hugely complex project. For those of you with a less creative streak, don't try to go too far beyond your capabilities, there is nothing more demoralizing than a project attempted and gone horribly wrong. Simple is definitely better in this case! I eventually decided upon a fantasy scene, of a ruin set into a skyscape. Before you begin mapping out the project you will need to draw pictures, collect images, and plan, plan, plan your design. It may take several attempts to find the right images to put together and quite some time to plan out your design.

I chose to go for a sci-fi type scene as anyone who knows me knows that is a reflection of my passion for imagination, writing and so forth. My final design is a 'post apocalyptic' primal scene of a destroyed home surrounded by the sky, of some of humanity returned to it's primal source, while the rest continue to progress with technology and merge into the stars. (These are reflections of my interests — the primal nature of my soul and religion, and my fascination with the future of humanity and the wonders of technology — I am a primordial cyber witch! Some may say — a contradiction, yet they merge within me as a whole)

Collect paints, brushes, drop sheets, rollers etc. Whatever you think you will need according to your design ideas, organization is a key factor in making what can be very difficult, as easy as possible. There is nothing worse than getting half way through a section of your project and realizing you are missing a vital factor in creating the design. I always over collect at this stage, if you think you will need three large brushes get four, if you think you will need a big roller and a small one, then grab a medium sized one as well, if you have figures on three liters of pain then buy four! You can be sure that should you not then you will run out of paint, need that middle roller or break a brush! The other reason collecting all your items up front is simply cost, there is no point in starting a project that you won't be able to complete because you run out of money.

Here comes the fun part, painting in the main sections of the design! At this stage I decided to break my own rules for making the job as easy as possible and Having all you equipment before you start. I decided to purchase some glow in the dark paint to enable sections of the design to be visible without lights. An idea I thought would be fantastic for meditational purposes. I also purchased some glow in the dark stars to add to the design after finishing the painting. I thought about having some of our stone textured paint sent, but decided rather than 'cheat' I'd go all out and actually make the stone look myself. So this is a case of do as I say not as I do.

Once I has the main parts of the design in place I used painters tape to mask out the various sections of the 'walls' to create the mortar effect after painting — Warning: Do not leave the tape in place too long, it should be placed, painted and then removed before the paint is fully dry! This was a mistake I made and unfortunately the original paint on the walls wasn't very good quality and even though the base coat was, it was all pulled off right down to the plaster, as can be seen in the photographs! This created a much bigger job for me, as I then had to go back and hand paint the mortar lines in, a very slow and time consuming process, and one that left me with an aching back for days!

In the meantime the glow paints and stars arrived by post and I was able to paint in the planets and add the stars. (there are definitely certain things that should be noted here. (a) Glow in the dark paints work best on a white background and with many layers — the more layers the brighter the glow effect. (b) some glow paints are a better quality than others and the glow effect definitely depends on the quality, so spend a bit more money and buy good glow paints (c) There is a definite 'art' to placing glow in the dark stars to ensure a realistic effect). If you intend on making any sort of glow in the dark night scene for your temple, then I would recommend purchasing a book on glow in the dark constellations (see bottom of page for temple construction resources) this will assist you, should you desire a realistic design for your walls — it is an invaluable resource!

It was before beginning the next stage that I decided I needed to take the blue paint for the sky up onto the cornices and to add stars to that section as well as the cornice was creating a gap in the star field which was very noticeable in the dark. I was also stumped as to what to add to the opposite wall to my planets. I wanted to keep in the skyscape theme but was a loss as to what would fit in, my initial design idea was to place a futuristic city in the background, but soon I realized I didn't like the way it would affect the overall design. Finally after much deliberation I decided on a futuristic space station, and had to spend quite a bit of time looking for just the right images to fit in with the design. Eventually I was forced to use some images I had found and design my own space station. I also realized that more glow paints would be required to finish off the space station, as I wanted to show all the lights on it at night — so back to ordering and waiting for more glow paints to arrive — take this as a worthy lesson for yourselves — make sure you are happy with the design, it can throw out your process of creation if you have to do as I did and redesign a section of your mural part way through and wait for more materials!

While I was waiting for the new paints to arrive I had to draw in and paint the rest of the space station, this was difficult as I had to be very careful not to damage any of the paint that was around it and as I had to start from a base color followed by each overlaying color, this would have been very easy to do. The details on the space station had to be done very slowly so as to protect the whole effect, definitely not a task I'd want to repeat in the order it was required to be done due to it being added at a later date and not part of the original design.

After this comes adding the fine details, shadows, cracks in the brickwork, plants growing in cracks, etc. Don't rush this stage, as it is what makes the whole image realistic! The more complex your details here the better the finished product. This is a very good time to access your resource materials, books, photos, etc that show in details what you are trying to create. Take your time, plan it all out well before you add a drop of paint. This is also a good time to decide how you will lay out your furniture in the room and what exactly you are going to do with it to make it fit the scene you are trying to create.

Now that the mural is complete, I have to seal some sections of it, such as the glow paint — to protect it from smoke from my candles and incense. It will also assist in keeping the glow paint at it's premium for best effect.

After sealing, you can add any of those 'special details' that will really make the rooms extra special and hold a deeper meaning for you personally. I chose to add some florist's ivy leaves to my vine to make it look a bit more real and to add a bit more of a 3D effect. I also decided to add some butterfly 'rub-transfers around my plants and in various other sections of the room. Another touch was my tree frog, who I bought from Bunnings Hardware in the craft section as a blank cut-out, I painted him and glued him climbing up my wall.

Well part one of the design is completed — the walls and ceiling are finished. It is time to now begin the floor. I have ripped up the old carpet so we are now down to bare concrete and I have noticed a few cracks in it, I considered patching them but have decided to leave it as with the design it will actually add to the authenticity!

I have thought about what to do with the floor for some time, I don't want carpet in here as it is a pain if you spill herbs or candle wax on a new carpet, and tiles or lino are a bit too cold and impersonal for a temple, so it looks like it's back to more paintwork. I am going to create a permanent circle design for the floor, marking out the quarters and placing symbols of protection around the borders. I am then considering buying a nice large floor rug to cover over it for when I am not performing a ritual — I haven't decided on having the rug or not yet, Ill see how it all looks when the design is completed. The difficult part of designing this is going to make it fit on with the ancient looking ruins. I am thinking of making the floor look like flagstones or cobblestones painted over with the design, then adding cracks and worn places to make it look old. I have to find the right images to adapt which may take some time.

In the meantime I am going to begin creating the altar. I have an old bookcase that I want to adapt as an altar but I’m not quite sure how it will work. It is too tall for a working altar and I have considered turning it on it's side and using stackable plastic boxes to keep my herbs etc in, but that will require a cover for the front to hide the boxes. I'm going to play with the idea for a while and see what comes of it. Well the Old bookcase won't work, it's way to big even on it's side, so it was back to the drawing board. I wanted to get hold of an old dressing table as I thought that might work, the dressing table idea is a good one if you can get hold of an old fashioned wooden one as they are sturdy and usually well made, you may even find one with the mirror still intact (very handy for scrying). Finding a dressing table though would have taken quite some time and I'm getting antsy wanting to finish the temple sooner rather than later, so I'll have an indoor working space again, my Dad then came to the rescue and has made me an altar that will fit perfectly in where I want it! It will still need to be painted and whatnot but at least I have a great working base now.

Before I begin to do anything to the Altar it needs to be sanded then sealed with primer, I find that sanding and sealing a piece before painting ensures the paint will stick regardless of what it is made of! Paint on the first coat of primer. Don't worry too much if the primer dries looking scrappy, that’s quite normal as it soaks further into the areas which are more 'thirsty'. This will be covered by layers of primer, and paint as the project continues.

For my Altar, the piece is going to be made to resemble stone, so I have added sand after the second coat of primer. I simply painted on a thicker coat of primer and then before it dries sprinkle over sand quite thickly — I actually used sand from our garden for this stage as it is of different textures, some very fine other bits quite coarse. (However when it comes to adding it to the paint in later stages I recommend beach sand, the very fine sand from near the dunes — not the coarser sand nearer the ocean)

I give the piece about 48 hours between coats, to ensure it is fully dry before continuing. After all my Altar will be used for years to come and is a Sacred item, so love, care and a lot of time goes into its creation, as it has with this whole room. After allowing it to dry completely it is then be sealed with a third, light, coat of primer leaving the piece with a rough look. After this layer had dried completely brush off the excess sand.

I then mixed my paints to achieve the color I want for my 'stone' I then mixed in a few handfuls of beach sand and painted on the first layer, thickly but not too thick as this will take some time to dry and it must be completely dry before proceeding with the second sand/paint layer! I’d you brush it on thicker in some areas and thinner in others, you will increase the stone effect. When that coat is dry apply the second coat in the same manner. (This may not go on quite as easily as the first coat, so just sort of slop it on and spread it around remember on this a little patchy is good)

Now that the piece is prepared with it's second sand/paint layer and I am waiting for it to dry. So I took a wander around some second hand shops today looking for pieces that would fit my overall design and scored big! I found a couple of black candelabras including a floor standing one, a couple of stone looking pieces and a few pottery pieces I can use on my altar, four matching glass candelabras for my quarter points and a besom (I already have a handmade one but I couldn't resist — what Witch doesn’t love her brooms!) and I got them all for under $20! Of course they will all need to be cleaned, cleansed and consecrated, but I intend to do this with all my items before they go into my new temple room anyway. It is a fantastic idea to hunt around secondhand shops, garage sales, markets, trash and treasure days, boot sales etc. some wonderful finds turn up, I managed to score an old rusted cauldron a few years ago which I am considering revamping for this room when it is finished.

I also bought a few tanned goat skins today to use as floor coverings, I have left an offering to the Goddess for providing this to me and asked that she bless the animals from which these skins came, as is the way of Primordial Witchcraft.

After the 48 hour wait you can add a final layer of sand/paint to the Altar, if you choose, depending upon the thickness and effect you want to create. Then again of course, comes another wait period (this stage can become boring and frustrating so keep in mind your final design and try to fit in some little projects such as I mentioned with revamping the cauldron) and a few days later I added the stoning effect by basically splattering various paints in stone colors randomly over the Altar.

Again I leave the stone spattering to dry for a minimum of 24 hours (this doesn’t need as long to dry as the paint is neither thick nor coated all over the Altar). You can choose to sprinkle some sand over the splatter as it is drying to created some slightly rougher areas, which I did, however don't do this as soon as you paint, you don’t want big clumps, wait until it is almost dry, then sprinkle it on.

The next stage in creating the Altar is making a raised stencil pentacle, to do this I painted on a circular background of gold paint and left it to dry again for 24 hours (a quicker drying paint this time). The next morning I spent several hours cutting the design I had chosen into a paper stencil. This is very simple — just print of your design, decide which areas you want stenciled in and cut out the pieces you want removed — being careful not to cut either yourself or the wrong section of the design! (Note: to check your design turn it over and make sure it looks how you expect and that you haven't accidentally cut out the wrong sections!)

When you design is prepared and you have checked it to make sure it is the design you want you can prepare your stencil to paint. For this you will need some 'spray bond removable adhesive'. This wonderful stuff allows you to glue your stencil in place and prevents it from moving and smudging your design, or from leaking paint underneath the stencil! You simply spray the back of your stencil, press it into place and leave for a few moments. When the glue has had a chance to bond, you can begin to paint your stencil. Buy a stencil brush, it can be done with a regular brush but it won't work as well, they are not expensive and well worth the few dollars they cost for the ease of use.

I decided to add some sand to my paint for the stencil area as I wanted it to be raised up from the 'stone', I was trying to create a carved effect. I also chose to use moss green which I will be using in the next step to give the effect that the moss had grown over the raised area. When stenciling with a sand/paint mix make sure you apply the paint quite thick to give you a solid raised area, you could try doing it in two layers but I found the stencil generally didn't last more than one application. Once you have applied the paint, carefully remove the stencil while the paint is still wet, if you leave it and try to remove it when the paint is dry, it generally pulls up part of the stenciled paint as well.

While the stencil was drying, I applied the moss effect. This is achieved by pulling some pieces out of a sponge to create a more irregular pattern (I chose a bath sponge as they are already quite holey). You then make a runny mix of paint and water (or white spirits if using an oil paint). By dipping the sponge into the paint, squeezing out the excess then dabbing onto the Altar you can create the effect of moss. I suggest having a look at how moss generally grows on objects, corners and raised areas tend to gather more of the moss and one side will always have more moss than the other. You may need to repeat this process several times with different thicknesses of paint in order to achieve the right effect.

And finally a coat of sealer (or maybe two depending on how it goes) then the Altar is finished and awaiting the room to be completed so it can go in!

Well I've found the images I want to use on the floor, it took some doing but I think I have a basic design in mind. You may wish to draw on a rough design at this stage before painting on the sealer, I did this and realized that my design needed to be a bit bolder in order to get the effect I desired, always good to do this before you begin painting!

I have had to empty out the room of all my painting gear, so I can seal the concrete. This is important as the floor will need to be hard wearing if I want the design to last. The other option is to use paving paints, which I will be using as well but as I stated earlier, I'm not cutting any corners on this project as I want it to last for as long as I am living here (and hopefully long after that too!). The first step is to ensure it is clean and I mean clean! I have swept the room, vacuumed and washed the floor, then given it 24 hours to dry before sealing. This will make sure the sealant sticks and won't lift at a later date.

Now that the floor has been sealed, I am putting on the first coat of paint. This layer will eventually be the 'grout' between the flagstones, so I have chosen to go with a medium gray color. I painted around the edges of the wall with a brush and then used a roller to apply paint to the remaining section of the floor (a note here: leave some paint for the end in case you make any mistakes and need to paint over!) Again I left it for 48 hours before the next step, drying time is important so make sure you check on the can to find the manufacturers recommended time, then to be sure give it several more hours. The reason I state this is, that it is only a guide, a recommended time, in fact the conditions where you live will affect this time, if it is very hot and dry the paint will definitely be dry, however if it is humid or wet this will increase drying time. I leave it for longer to allow the paint to begin to cure, ensuring the next coat will be going onto a fully cured surface — therefore extending the wear time of the final product.

After this extended curing time I draw on the next stage — a basic design with permanent marker, don’t make this too detailed it only has to be a guideline for your painting. If you try to make it too detailed you will just confuse yourself. Also don’t try to draw in the whole design you will be adding layer by layer to the paint so just draw on each stage as you go.

Now you have the design you need to check your colors! I had a beige color I was intending to use as the base coat for my stones, however it was too light and ended up looking yellow, so I mixed up several paints with various combinations of color and painted test patches to ensure I was happy with the final results. I tweaked a couple of the colors and again tested them as patches. (Note: ensure you paint the patches close to your mural and each other, the surrounding colors will affect how each of the colors appear what may look good on its own may not look right when it is applied next to a color in your mural)

Once you're happy with your color choices, you can progress onto painting your base colors. For the flagstones, I have chosen to use a combination of base colors, these colors will later be echoed in each of the stones as highlights. This will give the whole area a more natural look. (Note: It is very important when creating a 'real' mural to ensure you look at the real items you are attempting to recreate. Nuances of shade, shadow color and texture are what make a painting look like the object it is copying). I have chosen the first color and then randomly chosen stones to paint. I then choose the next color and do the same and so on. You may find at the end that you have a few flagstones that are not yet painted — here's a tip, don't paint them all the same color, randomly paint them, don't worry if you end up with a few the same color next to each other they wont all look the same at the end after you have added the further colors.

Once you have allowed the paint to dry you can then begin to sponge on the second coat, this should be a random effect with differing shades of color. Leave this coat to partially dry and apply the second coat and so on (for once you don't want to allow the paint to completely dry as adding the second and third — and however many more coats you think it will need — while the paint is still slightly damp with allow some of the colors to blend and create a more natural effect).

Once this stage is completed I threw some beach sand over the drying paint to a) prevent the area from becoming slippery should I spell oils or water on it during a ritual (nothing worse than slipping over in a dim candle lit room) and b) to add to the texture and look of the 'stones'. After 24 hours drying time, I swept up the sand, then left the paint for another 24 hours to cure.

Finally the painting and preparation of the room is complete and the very enjoyable task of fitting out and dressing the room begins! First of course I had to replace the completed Altar (with some lifting help from my son — thanks Dane!). After bringing in the Altar I set the quarter points using a compass to ensure they were facing the correct directions.

Once I had the room's bearings then came bringing in all my collected witchy paraphernalia, I decided on setting up the Altar first and then each quarter direction in turn.

My Altar is dedicated to The Morrigan, my Patroness. Although I do work with the masculine as well it is the Dark Lady who has called me to Her service and so I have chosen to have my Altar solely dedicated to Her. Upon my Altar sits a framed image of the Lady Morrigan which I created myself, draped with black lace and over which hangs my Morrigan Necklace (given to me by my parents) and my bone prayer beads. At the foot of the frame is a hand carved human skull (made for me by a dear Pagan friend who has passed over) and a real cat's skull (from a familiar who passed over to the summer land and was 'collected' when we moved home and the land owners were going to be digging up the land — she is now honored to sit by the Lady) both representing the Morrigan's role as a collector of souls. I also have my raven wing staff, my small copper cauldron, a glass of red wine, my wand/tapping stick, my sacred hand made blade, a hand-woven basket in which I store my cingulum, and a bowl of salt.

Then I created the Fire Quarter Shrine, This is basically several candles, a small sword, a miniature lantern and a candle douser. This quarter is very special to me as within our Coven we can gain through trial, study and experience Mastery in the various Elements, Fire was the first Element over which I gained Mastery and I am now the longest standing Mistress of Fire within Terra Sphere. I would like to add a figurine of a Fire Deity/Elemental to this shrine at a later date when I find one that calls to me, perhaps a dragon.

Next Came the Water Quarter Shrine, There is a candle, several sea shells, a handmade cowrie shell place mat a gift from a Pagan friend in Hawaii. A bottle of rain water, a large copper ladle filled with sea salt, a few fresh water pearls. I would like to add a figurine of a Water Deity/Elemental and a chalice to this shrine at a later date when I find ones that calls to me, maybe a water nymph or Yemaya but probably not a mermaid, unless I find the exact right one.

My Earth Quarter contains a candle as do all my quarter points, a figurine of an Earth Mother surrounded by her stones, I also have my staffs and besom, a hand-woven basket from Bali, several crystals and gemstones including a piece of white opal (in front of the candle, which is a highly treasured and personal piece, some silk flowers, a small bowl of mineral sand collected from our local beach and several small crystal balls.

Finally my Air Quarter, has it's candle, a heap of feathers I have collected, a dried moth found by my familiar, Hunter, (which he dropped at my feet as a gift) a Tibetan bell and hammer, an oil diffuser, an incense burner and an oil burner. Again I'd like to add a figurine of an Air Deity/Elemental, when I fins one. I would prefer a larger Sylph figurine as well as the small Fairy.

After all the setting up I Blessed and Consecrated the space, during a Ritual I specifically designed for this room. I have decided not to share this Ritual here as it was very personal and I believe that sometimes some things are better left not shared.

I hope you have gained some insight into how rewarding the experience of creating a Sacred Space can be, from a simple Shrine through to a complex Sacred Space and that you will share your experiences of developing your own Sacred Space in the Forum, with other members and myself. I would love to hear from you all on what you use, how you came about your own inspirations and how your Sacred Spaces develop.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License