Why sacred places matter
Written by: Nadia Alamo
Life must have its sacred moments and its holy places. We need the infinite, the limitless, the uttermost – all that can give the heart a deep and strengthening peace. – A. Powell Davies
Your sacred space is where you can find yourself over and over again. – Joseph Campbell
As people, we have always had a tendency to perceive the sacred as present in anything. From stones and caves to trees, mountains, and water. It is not necessarily the stone or the mountain itself, but the stone or mountain as a gateway to something deeper. We sense the capacity for the space or place to make us whole.
Visiting a sacred place lifts us out of the everyday, expands our perceptions, and gives us a sense of belonging to something much larger than ourselves. Ancient cultures understood this. They were able to seek out these places that heal, that empower us, and give us clarity. Sometimes they left the space as it was, sometimes they built a monument or building of some kind.
And nothing has changed from those times. We all still need to recharge, to grow, to connect, and to be still. Indigenous people who still live culturally and spiritually connected to these places have values that we, in modern culture, seem to be intensely in search of: reverence, reciprocity, respect, simplicity.
Sacred places continue to be the most visited and most loved destinations on planet earth. Over 800,000 people visit Stonehenge each year, one quarter of a million people walk the El Camino, four to six million people visit Lourdes, France, 15 million travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and over 30 million visit the Meiji Shrine and the Sensoji Temple in Tokyo, Japan.
These places represent our essential spirit and connection to all of humanity. Often once used as a site for ceremony, worship, miracle, or some other significant event, we know when we have arrived at some place special. In fact, sometimes that’s all we know. Sacred places are shrouded in mystery, their origins, and true meaning having been lost to time.
Sacred space is not the sole purview of a destination. Yes, religious teachings and even modern scientists have pointed to specific places on Earth that seem to have higher energy vibrations or other features difficult to understand with just the five senses. But sacred space is largely about intention. Wherever you bring the intention to be still and open, that is a sacred place.
It is entirely possible to bring the sacred to the here and now. Some will bring their intention to the village temple, others will bring it to a hike in the mountains, and still others will bring it to their homemade altars and meditation space. The ultimate answer to what makes a space sacred seems to be the combination of our own openness to connection and finding those historical and energetic gateways to deepen that connection.
If the sacred can be accessed from the privacy of our own homes or from the calming lake near our neighborhood, why do so many travel to monuments, historical sites, and natural settings that are known to resonate with the divine? Sacred exists within relationship; within community. We travel to these destinations to tangibly experience relationship with each other.
Whether we understand it fully or not, community deepens and enhances our experience. Each visitor leaves a bit of their intention behind and we sense this collective energy when we arrive. We bring reverence to these places that remains long after we are gone.
The spiritual magnetism of sacred places call us to self-exploration. For whatever reason, we sense that there is knowledge there essential to humanity and our planet. If you’re daily life calls you to something deeper, if your true nature calls you to explore new places, or if you are simply curious to experience the extraordinary, let this inner voice lead you on your next adventure.