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Sacred Sites & the Guardian of the Land

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

The Zone


For me, Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky’s classic film ‘Stalker’ was a perfect example of the power of earth energy – the landscape seemed to speak throughout the film and it had an incredible atmosphere – both mystical and haunting. It was as if the story came straight from that place – a restricted site known as the ‘Zone.’ This magical place spoke more for me than the simple story-line in which a guide (Stalker) took two men, Writer and Professor into a forbidden area, in the centre of which was the Room, where it was believed that a person’s deepest wish would come true. The men contemplated happiness and the room perhaps symbolised the divine within us – the dialogue was deeply philosophical, and the men slowly opened up regarding their concerns and limiting ideas. What intrigued me most about the film was that this place was forbidden and there was a sense of desperation surrounding the people – we were shown a glimpse of the existential unhappiness of the Stalker’s family and the doom of his daughter who had powers of telekinesis, yet was seemingly without any spiritual framework or hope and living in a society steeped in control systems that were keeping the people enslaved, prevented from accessing the holy site.



Scenes from the 'Stalker.'


Sacred Buildings and Earth Energy


The film painfully mirrors many of the elements I am witnessing in the world today. There is sacred earth energy on our planet, yet I am aware that not all of these sites are now open to the public and rarely are people taught about this subject. In their classic book The Sun and the Serpent by Paul Broadhurst and Hamish Miller, they discussed the increasing awareness in recent times about the relationship between sacred sites (such as churches, cathedrals, stone circles and cairns) and the earth energy beneath these places with a particular focus on the St Michael alignment which stretches across the UK. They examined recent research such as John Michell’s work in the The View over Atlantis as well as the classic book about ley lines by Alfred Watkins:


“The rediscovery of this alignment of sacred sites that stretches from coast to coast was made by the mystical scholar John Michell in the 1960s…John Michell had also felt that there was some profound knowledge behind the existence of leys. Wherever one travelled in the district surrounding the Somerset levels, the enigmatic shape of Glastonbury Tor hung on the horizon. There was a mood of mystery about the old sacred hill that seemed to cast a spell over anyone who approached it, and there was talk of consciousness shifts and psychic experiences, of all manner of visions and revelations. The features of the legendary landscape around the Isle of Avalon seemed to possess a powerful energy that affected the mind, giving glimpses of hidden realities.”

St Michael's Tower on Glastonbury Tor


Restrictions


So why have some of our most sacred places become restricted zones? It is our right to have access to holy sites of sacred earth energy when in alignment with lore – why have some of these sites become restricted?


Currently it is not possible to come close to the stones at Stonehenge since they are fenced off and there have been many protests over the years from Druid communities regarding English Heritage regulations. In 1985, the Battle of the Beanfield took place – a group of travellers heading to the landmark, with the intent of making the Stonehenge Free Festival, were stopped by police at a road-block, great violence commenced on both sides and a police sergeant was later convicted of Actual Bodily Harm – 537 people were arrested making it the largest mass arrest of civilians since the Second World War. Stonehenge Free Festival took place for ten years from 1974 in the month of June, culminating in the Summer Solstice and many musicians such as Hawkwind and Jimmy Page performed there for free alongside the Druid celebrations, pagan weddings and other kinds of rituals. Yet the drug use and dealing on site led to increased restrictions and the last festival took place in 1984.


Finding Balance


It is a contentious issue – the reality is we live in a world where many beings are not awakened to their soul and many are lost in egoic behaviour – finding a balance where we can ensure that people have the right to access sacred monuments and ley lines, yet also ensuring that the sites are respected and protected is key. Our collective consciousness needs to be evolved and ready. It is possible, however, to access the stones at the Solstice celebrations or to purchase a special access ticket, which some may argue is a fair middle ground. None of these thoughts are criticisms and I think that the museums and organisations of this land are doing an ok job considering the paradigm we live in - I think there are so many ways that we can bring forth inspiration and direction in terms of evolving. It is very exciting to contemplate. English Heritage recently published a book of eight myths associated with eight historical sites in their care including the story Goibert of the Moon by a contributing environmentalist writer, Paul Kingsnorth, which was connected to the site of Stonehenge – I feel that this is a good way of moving forward in terms of enabling people to fall in love with the magic and mystery of this land.


Conversely some places are kept sacred by not entering them and maintaining their sacredness through this lore. We are starting to see in conservation the need to keep some places untouched by human hands – it is human arrogance that makes us think that we have the right to go anywhere we please without regard for necessary boundaries. Complex processes can occur in some places rich in elemental energy or earth line activity and seeking permission from the land to enter sacred sites is paramount. This was recently seen in Australia regarding the rush to climb Uluru rock before the practice was stopped on the 26th of October 2019. This earth energy is known as a songline or ‘dreaming track’ and it is believed that the songline flows downwards which is why it was considered sacrilegious to climb up. This sacred landmark was returned to the guardianship of the Pitjantjatjara Anangu traditional owners in 1985. A rush of tourists flocked to the rock in order to scale its heights before it would be closed forever, despite the lore of the indigenous people who urged visitors not to climb this sacred site.


A beautiful Australian film called ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ based on the novel by Joan Lindsay portrayed the disappearance of a teacher and several school girls at a picnic outing – the rocks influenced the behaviour of the girls who seemed to enter a trance and terrible consequences ensued for the party. For me, this is a perfect example of earth energy which is understood to be either ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ in very simplistic terms concerning its effects on human beings and it can have different energies, directions and varying attributes all across the globe. “All kinds of different energy currents emerge from the earth in different regions. There are various forces – magnetic, electrical and so on, but also diverse living energies – which rise up out of the earth and affect human beings in many ways at different places on its surface, depending on geological strata and geographical conditions.” (Spiritual Ecology: Reading the Book of Nature and Reconnecting with the World, by Austrian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner.)


Scenes from 'Picnic at Hanging Rock' directed by Peter Weir.


Interaction and Communication


Problems arise when sacred site becomes overly controlled and no-one can enter them, thus preventing people from being allowed to walk along these powerful energy lines and physically connect with sacred monuments. Sacred objects can also be taken out of context and removed from their original location. The key, perhaps, is finding a way to ensure that these sacred sites are treated with respect. They become overly controlled in order to avoid erosion or vandalism, yet these stones are alive – they are meant to be part of an interplay of discussion and public dynamism. We are meant to be connected with them. It is a relationship. If they erode over time, that is part of the relationship of interaction. To deny something the ability to communicate and be involved in society just so that it stays pristine and ‘static’ seems like folly – our ancestors didn’t put these rocks together so that we could stare at them and try and work out what our ancestors were doing. They wanted us to have an engagement with them just as they did – to utilise their forces and experience the magic of these monuments and in the process to allow them to age gracefully and naturally and be replaced according to the wisdom of our consciousness. The Indigenous Australian people believe that songs must be continuously sung in order to keep the land ‘alive’ and I fully agree - what do you feel - how do you wish to bring nourishment to the land and sacred sites? I have found it to be a good practice to ask for permission from the guardian of the site to enter. It is possible to communicate with the guardian and learn more about the subtleties and energetics of the site.


In museums, many sacred stones or objects have been taken out of location and context – they lose their power, their connection to the land, people and their story. They get put in a glass box with some dates and information about their chemical structure, yet without their correct position in the world they also have lost much ability to ‘transmit’ their story, myth and presence. The meaning gets watered down. To re-wild ourselves we may need to remember the importance of locality, place, context and story - how do we connect to the land and sacred sites? A local stone may begin to enchant us far more than an out-of-place Ancient Egyptian monument on a concrete floor surrounded by tourists. We might receive more from that single stone in its correct place than any gold, or elaborated carved object, taken from its original land and culture. Manchester Museum announced that it would return 43 ceremonial objects back to Indigenous Australians in November 2019 – these objects included wood or stone items which were said to embody the spirits of ancestors or relatives as well as clapsticks - a musical instrument used in ceremonies.


Initiation and Rite


We fence off our sacred sites and allocate them to the realms of ‘history’ to be preserved for antiquity and in so doing we fence off a part of ourselves. When we do visit them, we might engage in a dreary rite, listening to some mundane historical talk about a list of facts and dates which we’re never going to remember. In doing so we can lose access to an incredibly dynamic part of the psyche – the realm of rite, initiation, theatre and magic – the home of the ritual landscape. It is also important to remember that these sites were not built to be static but were intimately woven with the great cosmic cycles and do require updating – for example recumbent stone circles are believed to have been made for ritualistic astronomical purposes and therefore these alignments can fall out of place if they are not updated. Instead of seeing these things as static objects to preserve in a box of glass called ‘history’ I really do feel that it would help us tremendously if we adopted a more organic approach and opened up a debate concerning this field – to be open to see them as living beings within our landscape with their own needs – to consider whether they need to be updated, guarded and taken care of with ritual, just as we do.

Summer solstice ceremony at Avebury stone circle


"I conjecture further that the treasure in the sea, the companion, and the garden with the fountain are all one and the same thing: the self. For the garden is another temenos, and the fountain is the source of “living water” mentioned in John 7:38, which the Moses of the Koran also sought and found…We see much the same thing in our Western cloisters with the fountain in the garden. This is also the “rose garden of the philosophers,” which we know from the treatises on alchemy and from many beautiful engravings…The centre and the circle, here represented by fountain and garden, are analogues of the lapis, which is among other things a living being…The crash to earth thus leads into the depths of the sea, into the unconscious, and the dreamer reaches the shelter of the temenos as a protection against the splintering of personality caused by his regression to childhood.” (From Psychology and Alchemy by Carl Jung.)

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