When I think of sacred ground, I do not necessarily mean churches, shrines, disaster areas, or the holy places of Native Americans. While any of these sites may be sacred for one person or another, they aren’t all there is.For me, sacred ground is a special place, public or private, where I am comfortable, in harmony with the plants and animals and landforms, and am able to tune into the place at a spiritual level and “hear” it speak to me.
Such a place might be the garden in one’s back yard, a public park or recreational area, a family farm, a hiking trail in a national forest, or a state or national park. For some people it can even be a city, whether hardscape or park, where they find a multitude of values from culture to creature comforts to their psychic health.
My approach to wild places leads me to “hear” not only the place itself, but the people who have been there over time. Places tend to store up the emotions of the people who frequent them, so the comfort or discomfort I may feel in them is not simply because I either like or feel intimidated by the view or the vegetation or the animals there. The place includes the joys and sorrows of its visitors.
Of course, when we like a place, we tend to go back there again and again, and that builds up not only a personal history but an increased sensitivity to what the place has to say to us. Once there, one can tune into the place simply by sitting on a mountain summit and watching the clouds or by walking along the shore and simply being there with the waves wrapping around our feet. One can tune in by quietly observing wildlife or (if nobody’s around to make us feel self conscious), we can talk to the trees or the water or the animals.
Other people prefer to “open themselves up” to a place by sleeping beneath a tree or sipping water in a sunny meadow or through various meditation techniques. It’s been my experience that if one goes into a place while thinking of the office and the economic crunch and the impending car repairs, they might leave the place feeling better than they did when they walked into it.
Yet, if one walks into their backyard garden or a few miles down their favorite trail attending to the place itself rather than to projects and worries that don’t belong there, they will be better able to hear the place and leave at the end of the day with greater understanding, serenity and appreciation for their sacred ground.
The Junior Earth Mage Club, based on the work of author Smoky Trudeau (“Observations of an Earth Mage”), presents inspiration and activities that teach young people respect for nature and how to best experience the out of doors.
Malcolm R; Campbell is the author of two novels set in Glacier National Park, his sacred ground. Purchases of “The Sun Singer” and the e-book edition of “Garden of Heaven” benefit the park through donations from Vanilla Heart Publishing.