pale leaf Gaia's Garden leaves




Sacred Spaces
an article by Blackhawk

As the sun breaks over the horizon on a crisp midsummer morning, light exploding upon the land and casting into sharp relief the age-old standing stones which form the ancient monument of Stonehenge, we are reminded of the history and the power of that specific location. Time snakes back through war, industrialisation, empires and kings to a time beyond all that we know - a time of magic and legend, of druids and tribes and nature in a world much younger and much more alive than our own.

But what makes a place ‘sacred’? Is it the mere presence of a structure such as a cathedral, standing stones or a burial site? Is it the convergence of powerful Ley-lines? Are places made sacred by the attentions of Man? Are individual locations inherently sacred, or do events promote sites from being a natural formation to being worthy of special status? To a ‘primitive’ tribe which worships a god with the head of a crocodile, the sighting of an ancient rock formation with remarkable similarity to the head of a crocodile may be enough to promote the site to ‘sacred’ status, yet the same site would be classed as merely ‘interesting’ by a modern-day mobile-phone-owning, Volvo-driving city-dweller.

The truth is, that though any of these reasons would be sufficient for us to declare a location sacred - and for us to feel the power which emanated from such a place - none of these reasons would appeal to everybody as justifying special treatment :

‘The Holy Land’ is rich in such sites, from the Temple Mount and Wailing Wall to the Tomb of the Patriarch and the birthplace of Jesus. These places are rich in significance to Muslims, Jews and Christians, and are guarded jealously. Wars have been fought over these places for a thousand years. Yet, to a person who had never heard of Islam, Judaism or Christianity these places would be nothing but stone buildings in a desert. A mosque on a hill, the ruins of an old temple, a couple of battered tombs, and monuments to ancients long since dead.

The Americas have pyramids and ancient, long-lost cities, so too does Africa, and the Celtic lands of modern-day Europe have their burial mounds and magical stone circles. Temples and shrines abound in India and the Far-East, while in Aboriginal Australia the sacred places are made of trees and rocks, rivers and mountains. Men and women, from different races, across a timespan of millennia, have discovered or created spaces and places they have named “Sacred”, which to outsiders have been seen as relics of primitive times or savage races; as curiosities or photo-opportunities.

Sites that are held to be sacred, holy or sacrosanct are links between the world of Man and the realm of God/s; between the mortal and the immortal; between our limited knowledge and the infinite. They are, in effect, doorways to the spiritual world. In these places we can focus on a higher plane; meditate on the creation of Nature, and the nature of Creation; communicate with Deities; worship that which we find Holy. All of this we can do, yet none of this actually makes a place Holy or Sacred.

So, what really makes a place ‘sacred’?

The truth is that no place is uniquely endowed with sacred qualities. No one space is more concentrated with holiness than all others. The truth is that all places are sacred. Every spot on this planet - on land, under the sea, in the air, from the stratosphere to the molten core of Earth - and on every planet and star in this universe, and all the ‘empty space’ inbetween, is sacred.

Pick a spot, any spot. The white-sanded shoreline of a tropical island. The cloud-wrapped summit of a Tibetan mountain range. The rock pool at the end of your garden. The lone tree surviving by its wits in a sea of concrete and steel. Any place which allows you to reach out and touch Nature. Any place which allows you to make contact with the twin wonders of Eternity and Infinity. Every spot can be a doorway to the spiritual world, a place worthy of meditation, respect and worship.

But what about the houses of Man? How can we touch nature in a barren office block, a prison or casino? Surely these places are not sacred?

True, some places make it extremely difficult for us to see the Holy within their walls. Places filled with suffering and pain, mindless brutality or soul-destroying boredom and repetition; places without hope; temples to rampant commercialism and the worship of Money. These are the places which test us most when we look for the Sacred within everything.

The answer is to see beyond what these places contain or represent, and look to what they are : structures created from a design originating in a creative mind (based on knowledge built up over tens of thousands of years of Human learning, observation of ‘the natural world’, accidents, random dreams, daydreams and musings; taught to each consecutive generation by a new teacher, spanning generations, languages and civilizations) and formed from materials which have, at times been living matter, minerals, air and stardust.

So, though we may find it easier to feel the power of creation rushing through a thousand-year old cathedral, or at a convergence of Ley-lines beneath a carving made on the ground by unknown people before the pyramids were built, we should realise that same power is everywhere. The power of Nature and of Life is in the air, in the earth, in wind and rain. It is in fire, creating and destroying, in birth and death and change and time. The essence of Creation runs through our veins, fills our bodies and minds; occupies all individual beings and all the spaces inbetween.

Sacred Spaces - © Blackhawk 2003


pale leaves

Gaia's Garden Library
Non Fiction Section : Gaia's Garden Herblore | Susun S. Weed Articles | Articles and Musings
Fiction Section : Short Stories & Prose| As Told By Cat | Public Domain Texts| Poetry

Shop | Library | Gallery | Forum | Contact | Links