And just what is a sacred place?
What do you see when you hear those words? Standing stones raised by ancient peoples upon a windy plain? Dark caverns where the ancient Mother was first honored? Towering pyramids? Ruined temples to forgotten deities?
Certainly there are places upon this earth that seem to reach out to something at the core of our being and to connect us with the Divine energies around us. We actively seek them out, going on long pilgrimages of faith to spend a few moments or hours in these ancient precincts. We leave our offerings, take our pictures, gather our memories...and then we go back into the mundane, every day world.
But wait a moment..... Arent we forgetting something here? Arent we missing out on an important idea?
As Pagans, isnt one of our core beliefs that of the immanence of Divinity? Do we not believe that the Divine energy permeates all of the Universe, all of creation, all of the earth around us? Well the, if thats the case, then all places are sacred, not just the places we see on the cover of National Geographic or those to which the Guru of the moment is leading this years pilgrimage.
Certainly it is more difficult to see an urban city block covered in trash and human refuse as sacred. It may be more difficult to think of your own backyard as anything other than something which constantly needs to be mowed or weeded. And where is the sacred in the chemical tainted marshes surrounding many of our polluted waterways? And herein lies the problem.
When we begin to think about things and places as being either mundane or sacred we are taking a giant step away from our core belief in the immanence of Divinity. We begin to lose the sense of being a caretaker for the Earth and the creatures that share it with us, unless they are confined to certain specific places that we identify as sacred. And from this isolation from Divinity around us come all of those things which we Pagans visit on the Earth that continue to do it harm.
Our failure to connect to the Divine right beneath our feet often blinds us to those things we could be doing to save the world around us. And when we do manage to give a thought to what we might do, we are often overwhelmed by the massiveness of the task we face, and hence we are held motionless when action is needed. Yet each of us holds in our own hands the ability to turn around the damage humans have done to the natural world and to begin to restore the Sacred to all places.
The first step in making a world in which all places are again sacred is to turn our thinking around on what is sacred and what is mundane, to remember that Deity is immanent. Do we have to look upon ancient monuments to find the Divine? Is it not even a more powerful image of the power of life and creation to contemplate the common weed forcing its way through a crack in the city sidewalk?
So I ask you again....What is a sacred place?