Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Landscapes as Living Spirit

From Jake Page's article "Sacred Ground" in "Native Peoples" magazine:

We had been profoundly privileged to join the Hopis on a pilgrimage they have made every four years or so since before memory to eight outlying shrines that denote the land that the Hopis feel spiritually responsible for, a vast area in northeastern Arizona. The elders had asked us to go on this pilgrimage to “document” it for National Geographic so the world would know of the Hopis’ responsibilities.
The priests prayed for the land and for the well-being of all living things that dwell there. Later they told us the pilgrimage had clearly been successful. Almost everywhere we had gone, it had rained the next day. So much rain fell around Grand Canyon Village after we passed through there that authorities had to close all the roads for 24 hours.


Tens of thousands of such holy places are gone, but thousands no doubt remain—modest little shrines here and there like those on the former Woodruff Butte—hidden in canyons, sitting atop high mountains and fronting our oceans. They include whole mountains, like the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff, Arizona; entire mountain ranges, like the Crazy Mountains in Montana; as well as lakes, tiny springs still running in cities, and ancient burial sites.

I have purposefully removed the negative paragraphs. You can read yourself how one sacred place was used to make a road, or a landowner taking a bulldozer to another place. We humans are short-lived creatures - for good or bad, we seem to long to leave our mark on the landscape. Maybe we think that people will remember us for it? For good or bad.