|Taos Pueblo, 5 by 7 watercolor, card|
They begin as special places and sometimes grow over the years in significance. They're based on memories, on events, on traditions, on cultures, perhaps even on genetics and barely understood instincts. Other living things apparently have them...witness the migrations of insects as small as Monarch butterflies to larger wildlife--birds, animals, fish and reptiles for breeding.
For humans, special places grow over years and centuries, especially with oral traditions, and dramatic geography or resulting architecture or more. Sacred implies spiritual as these places take on more than just a physical existence or presence. They become places where the the division between physical and eternal is thin.
Most sacred places in the world are old--Stonehenge, Easter Island, the Pyramids, Machu Picchu, Asian Temples, Temple Mount at Jerusalem, Mecca, The Vatican--places that were built because the land itself was sacred and demanded attention and remembrance.
There are other places in all cultures I believe, when you visit them, that have become sacred on their own--have you been to Gettysburg? To the USS Arizona memorial? To the Normandy American Cemetery? To the Vietnam Wall? To Wounded Knee?
In nature, the mountains, the high places, the remote places became sacred also.
I see all that my New Mexico, where the Anasazi and their kin found sacredness in the landscapes and spirituality of all creation.
It is especially so for me both at Chaco Canyon and at Taos Pueblo--the oldest continuously occupied place in North America, the centuries old adobe and people still so in contact with the elemental sacredness, and their imposing sacred mountain.
In this season that is supposed to be sacred for one religion, let us respect all religions, beliefs and peoples who have sacred places and times. They are a part of our very existence.