Do you long to connect more deeply with the places you visit? Have you experienced a nagging feeling that there’s more to some places than meets the eye? How can you experience—as opposed to merely visit—a powerful place or sacred site?
The brief answer is: by centering, grounding, and being present to a site in whatever way works for you. Feeling the subtle energies that are present in a place requires practice, sensitivity, and openness. It is a bit like tuning a radio dial to a particular frequency. Although some people are naturally gifted in sensing these energies, others need to be taught.
We (Gary and I) didn’t feel much at powerful places and sacred sites until we started studying with geomancers (earth-energies experts) and dowsers. Much of the time, we humans operate on “automatic,” barely registering where we are or what we feel. In order to fully experience a powerful place or sacred site, it is important to be aware of your surroundings and of changes in yourself in response to your environment. Visiting powerful places is an opportunity to be intentional and alert.
Below is a video of Elyn and one of our mentors, Ferran Blasco, visiting a powerful sacred site. (You can learn more about Ferran and his teachings in Where Heaven and Earth Unite, a series of interviews and videos published by Pilgrims Process.)
Here are some suggestions.
- Breathe slowly and regularly, paying attention to your breath moving in and out. If you have a breathing practice, now is the time to do it.
- Look and Listen within: What are you sensing internally? How do you feel?
- Establish yourself in your location, orientating to the seven directions (east, south, west, north, above, below and the center within; or, before you, behind you, to your right, to your left, above, below, and the center within).
- Sense your surroundings, opening your five (or six) senses to what is around you. Feel the air against your face; smell the environment; listen for sounds…
- State your INtention to respect this place, to experience whatever is present for you at this moment.
- Give Gratitude for this opportunity.
- The Celtic-spirituality writer Mara Freeman suggests remembering the acronym ECOLOGY before entering a stone circle or other megalithic site:
The acronym BLESSING is a way to remember how to experience a powerful place, whether it is a cathedral, a megalithic dolmen, or a cave. BLESSING stands for:
“E” stands for Entry: before entering, circle the stones in a clockwise direction;
“C” stands for Centering yourself. This can be done by touching a stone or entryway
“O” stands for Offering, perhaps a bit of oatcake, or tobacco, a strand of hair or drop of saliva—something appropriate to the land and its associated spirituality—something biodegradable that won’t linger in the environment or build up over time. For example, don’t leave burning candles or melted wax. This shows you have come in good faith.
“L” is for Listening to the environment. What do you hear?
“O” is for Opening to your inner and outer senses.
“G” is for Gratitude to the place, Nature, Life itself.
“Y” is for You: leave the place as you found it. Take nothing away except the experience and leave nothing except your good intention.
Other suggestions include:
Before entering a temple or church, and as you approach a circle of standing stones or an ancient tree, ask permission from the spirits, the ancestors, the guardians of the place, the “spirit” of the tree. Imagine that you are entering someone’s home or place of worship: you wouldn’t simply barge in without asking. You would introduce yourself. And you would be polite.
If you sense a positive response, place your hand lightly on the column or stone to the right of the entry or doorway. Pause a moment to attune yourself (come into energetic harmony) with the place. Then step over—not on—the threshold.
If you sense a neutral response, wait. You may need to walk around the location (a dolmen or stone circle) in a sunwise (clockwise) direction before asking again. Or you may need to walk slowly into the outermost aura of a grand old tree before approaching closer. Pay attention to what you feel. Notice any changes in the atmosphere around you.
Sometimes you will receive a “Do Not Enter” message. If so, give thanks and walk away. Maybe the message will be more positive on another day.
Although I had visited the eight-sided church at Eunate, Spain, several times, the last time I went there I got a clear “No Entrance” message as I started to cross the threshold. I walked around the church and tried again. Still “No.” Once, at Fourknocks Cairn in Ireland, I went inside with a group to meditate and perform a ceremony. As soon as I was inside the megalithic mound, I started getting a headache and feeling queasy. I was determined to stay, however, and did so much longer than I should have. When I came out, I felt quite ill. Several members of the group had left immediately, feeling uncomfortable with the energies; others stayed for the entire ceremony and enjoyed the experience.
We encourage you to listen carefully to your own inner guidance as you open yourself to what may be available to you at a powerful place on a particular day, at a particular time of day, with the particular predisposition you bring to that moment. Use your own judgment to determine what is good or not good for you. Trust your feelings—and enjoy the mystery!
Crop-circle expert and sacred-sites researcher Freddy Silva lists seven principles of sacred space: water, electro-magnetics, sacred measure, stone, sacred geometry, orientation, and the “human key.” This latter principle refers to the interaction between the human energy field and its surroundings: for example, the awareness and intention we bring with us to a site. Intent is “the key that allows access into the invisible temple—its subtle energy field” (Common Wealth, 2011, p. 231).
For more information about the places described here visit our Powerful Places book catalog..