Geographies of Light
Why Honor Sacred Sites Day ?
©Peter Champoux 2002
When one speaks of sacred sites, what comes to mind ? Ayers Rock in Australia? Stonehenge in England? The Kaba in Mecca? The Temple Mount in Jerusalem? Anywhere in India? Mayan cities? St. Peters in Rome?
Conspicuously missing from this typical list of sites is the mention of any sites in North America. This is not to say that sacred sites are not found in North America. They just haven't, to date, been honored to any great degree by non native American culture.
One might identify anyplace where two or more gather in prayer is a sacred site. Yet the concept of outstanding 'sacred site' includes war zones like Gettysburg, Custer's Last Stand, Wounded Knee and now the site of what was once the World Trade Towers. While not natural 'sacred sites', these hallowed bloodied grounds would certainly benefit from peace and prayerful honoring.
Sacred Sites, 'a place apart', universally are places in nature that have 'manitou', a place that solicits a spiritual communication in the pilgrim visitor. Personally, I experience these sites as places where one can 'feel the silence', the silence that quiets the soul and opens the heart to the Great Mystery. Sacred sites can be many things to many people. Since time immemorial religious traditions have lavished their sacred sites with their epitome of power.
A time traveling spiritual elder for instance, might mistake the American shopping mall and corporate towers as such a sacred site. As well our time traveler may visit a place of prayer at the corner of W 22nd and State St., next to the Dunkin Donut and just two blocks from the Court House; and wonder.
One can create a sacred site through centuries of prayer or one miracle, even on the most lifeless land. A sacred site can be created by constructing and walking the pattern of a Labyrinth. This walking prayer, while artificial, works in a pinch and creates a presence that the earth and the labyrinth walker benefit from. Ask a Lakota if he knows of any sacred sites and he would, say 'Mato Paha' or Bear Butte, the Black Hills, and the earth in total.
Source: US Government Archive
Sacred sites have fed 'the people' with the manna of Spirit since before time. We are fortunate to have the 'Heart of Everything that IS' (Black Hills, SD) as a place of pilgrimage. Significant to point out is the pilgrimage of around a million motorcycle enthusiasts who come from around the world to Sturgis, SD (a mere 7 miles SW of Mato Paha) every July to revel in a community of 'the people' with beer, nakedness and noise. Not unlike pagan celebrations of olde England.
Places of power like the Black Hills play a significant role in sustaining harmony with 'the people' and the world at large. We can all agree, there is a life force that animates creation. Certain places have a greater capacity to renew and transmit this Life Force, Chi, or Holy Spirit. Spiritual seekers retreat to such places to renew their Chi. Holy men and women tend these sites as gardens of spirit. Through ceremony and prayer songs, they enchant the landscape. Prayers given within these sacred precincts renew the earth.
Building on the success of converting pagan Ireland, the Roman (Spanish) Catholic Church built their churches and civic buildings in South America on native sacred sites supplanting the religious frame work while keeping it's sense of place. The sacred sites that honored the Black Virgin became the church of the Black Madonna and such. In France, the Gothic builders or Knights Templar sited their churches on holy: groves, lakes, springs, and hill tops of the pagans that preceded them.
The combined affect of religious ceremony performed within these resonant structures, constructed with a sacred cannon, embedded Christic love and Church control into the land and 'the people'. Carrying on the Templar traditions here in America, the Masonic Lodges of merchant priests placed icons of economic and political power onto native sacred sites.
It is of utmost importance to pray at sacred sites. It is of great spiritual value to find a local sacred site to honor with prayer. Take a clue from the unifying message of Grail quest tales: 'The King and the Land are One!' Both those in power and the land are healed in this revelation. Sacred sites are gifts from Creator that benefit and sustain life.
More often than not, they have certain minerals that have strategic properties, sadly leading to their destruction. As is the case on the Hopi, Dineh and Shoshon reservations, the Black Hills, and other sites.
The confluence of rivers are significant sacred sites - a place of anomalous natural growth signals earth energy. Mountains that have native names are often sacred sites, as well. Water falls and springs are traditionally thought to be sacred sites. Look in your town records and histories for the occurrence of pre colonial rock piles - markers of sacred sites. Places with concentrations of metallic stone or quartz, earth activity such as where volcanic vents connected to the deep earth, the surface spot above the confluence of underground streams are often associated with traditional nature-born sacred sites.
Having sacred sites imbued with peace and prayer propagate peace and give power to prayer. Having many sacred sites populated by prayerful pilgrims projecting their spiritual light, their Chi, their life force, tends a garden of peace worldwide.
This is why it is so important to 'Honor Sacred Sites Day'.
Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth
Illustration of Shri Yantra
Peter Champoux is the author of Gaia Matrix
(Franklin Media ISBN 0-9672328-0-5)
a book about the sacred sites of North America.
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