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