Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | July 26, 2011

Sacred Places and Their Shadows

We’re so used to thinking about sacred sites as ‘special’ and ‘magical’ that any ‘shadow’ they might cast gets scant attention. When I was asked to write a book about them, I discovered to my dismay that the most well-known create vast carbon footprints, with millions traveling across the world to visit them and  use up local resources… but shadows are enigmatic and there are threads of gold in the darkness: local economies thrive because of them, hearts and minds are opened by them.

The other day, Peter Owen-Jones talked for Transition Towns in Lewes, and he mentioned the damage caused by the concept of ‘consecrated space’ – of the way in which by consecrating a church, for example, it was supposed to  make it different, more holy, than your own garden. Here was a thought: that designating a place ‘sacred’ damages our sense of the whole Earth being sacred.

Quercus has just re-published the book I wrote on sacred sites in a smaller edition. They’ve done a lovely job, and the new edition is even more pleasing to the eye than the bigger one for some reason. Some of the shadows are discussed in the book, but most of it is a celebration and an exploration, and I guess it’s up to each of us to decide whether the idea of sacred places is uplifting or problematic.

Francis Cameron, in a review, wrote: “I am really enchanted with this book. As I turn the pages I feel I am actually present at each place. I’ve not had this experience with a book before.”  The book’s website is here: www.sacredplaces.info

And if wild horses won’t stop you buying it at once, the Amazon UK link is here, and the Amazon US link is here.

If you’d like a copy dedicated to you and signed you can get this from the Order’s bookshop here.


Responses

  1. A friend, who is a southwest archaeologist, told me the following story. He was out in the field with three of Zuni elders, looking for sacred sites. This was near the New Mexico and Arizona border and throughout the hot day two of the elders showed him several sites. At the end of the day they were driving back to the pueblo, and he asked the third elder why he had not spoken of any sites. The Zuni elder smiled and said “it is all sacred.” Hartley

  2. VERY nice. 🙂


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