I am on pilgrimage for a couple of weeks. I have also called it “field research.” And sometimes “visiting friends.” I am in Britain to teach a workshop at the Glastonbury Goddess Conference and am using some time ahead of that adventure to see some old standing stones, some old churches, and some old riverbeds. It has me thinking about this element of earth and how we begin to approach it in ways that we deem holy.
Certainly there is the phrase “holy ground” and there is also “the Holy Land.” But neither speaks to the sense of deep and abiding sanctity that accrues to some places, regardless of who the current occupant may be.
We know of many instances when the victor and colonizer of an area destroys the holy places of the indigenous people and rebuilds their own holy place on the same spot. This is both an act of oppression and an odd acknowledgement of the power of that place, a power so old that cutting down a sacred grove and building a temple on the summit of the same hill does not dim the deep thrum of its power.
Are places powerful naturally or do they accrue power from use? I wonder that about place like Stonehenge where there are ley lines and fountains of surging earth energy that are nearly visible.
Today I passed an old church here in Carlisle, near the winding bed of the old river, and I wondered how many people had deemed that spot holy and for how long. And it brought me to a place of wondering about commonalities of stone, in an interfaith sense. Certainly the heavy old church carries a kind of sanctity with it, as does the river and its stony banks. Those standing stones in the ladies golf course and the other bunch in a part in a housing estate–do they retain their sense of the holy, even there? Even with no one to put a flowered wreath on their tops come Midsummer morning?
As we work in our interfaith and multi-faith circles, may we find the wisdom to bring our sense of sacred into a great weaving of the holy. Not layer upon layer of conquered and conquering but a great tapestry of divine and stony power, flowing up from the earth and through us all and back into the bosom of the planet again.