Should We Visit Sacred Sites?

Avebury – 2007

OBOD Chosen Chief Philip Carr-Gomm has an essay in Resurgence magazine that asks “do we really need to visit sacred places?”

On one hand, world travel is environmentally unfriendly, tourism is harming some sacred sites, and perhaps most importantly, if the whole Earth is sacred, why is one spot more sacred than others? On the other hand, people have taken religious pilgrimages since the dawn of civilization (and probably before), and there is no substitute for being in the presence of someone or some thing holy.

My trip to England in 2007 was about half pilgrimage – it included visits to Rollright, Stonehenge, West Kennet Long Barrow, and the highlight of the visit, Avebury. This past year’s trip to Mesa Verde was a journey in search of a spiritual experience.

For me, the experience of being there was fascinating and inspiring, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t get from participating in a really good ritual or guided meditation. The real benefit of visiting was the commanding presence of the sites – realizing I was in the company of “something special” focused all my thoughts on the Goddess and God, the Earth, and my ancestors. These sites were like giant centering meditations, causing the mundane world to fade away and bringing alive – if only for a moment – this one special place.

I think eventually I won’t need to visit sacred sites any more… but the curious traveler in me will always want to go and see…

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About John Beckett

I’m a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’m an ordained priest in the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. I’m the Coordinating Officer of the Denton, Texas Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. This year I’m also serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of CUUPS National. I’m a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

I write as a spiritual practice. It helps me organize my thoughts and work through ideas and concepts. It helps me evaluate my beliefs and practices against my core values and against what I know (or at least, what I think I know) to be true. It helps me interpret my experiences (religious and otherwise) in ways that are both meaningful and honest.