MAIN POINTS ABOUT SACRED PLACES

 

1. Sacred places are sites which have some kind of extraordinary qualities that evoke spiritual or mystical feelings and experiences which may help explain why some attract thousands to millions of pilgrims and visitors annually.

2. Sacred places are ubiquitous temporally, spatially, and culturally, in contrast to secular government protected areas which cover only about 5% of the land surface of planet Earth.

3. Sacred places are not anachronistic, but many have endured for centuries or even millennia, even through a succession of cultures and/or religions, while others are recent, being revitalized, or even newly created, and yet others are temporary or may be sanctified and later desanctified.

4. Some cultures or religions consider the entire earth to be sacred even though they recognize certain places as far more sacred than others, and some consider an entire landscape as sacred or it may include a network of multiple sacred sites which may be connected by a pilgrimage route rather than isolates.

5. People from a diversity of backgrounds (cultural, religious, linguistic, historical, geographical, and/or ecological) may consider the same place to be sacred, even though they may interpret it differently (multivocality).

6. The above generalization points to the possibility that sacredness may be an intrinsic or inherent quality of some sites, rather than only created or imposed by cultural constructions or interpretations.

7. Nevertheless, sacred places are often contested sites, and as such can involve basic human rights issues such as cultural and religious freedom.

8. Anyone should approach a any sacred place with caution, respect, and reverence following the appropriate cultural and/or religious protocol.
"Spirit of place is the power that is manifested in sacred space. People who enter the space, and are aware of the spirit, experience it in various ways: often healing, meaning, transformation, strength, or connectedness with nature; though sometimes as threat, risk, or ordeal" (Donald Hughes 1991:15 in Swan).

"To know the spirit of place then would seemingly be essential to the art of planning, designing and building sustainable societies" (James Swan 1991:2 in The Power of Place and Human Environments).