Why Do People Visit Ancient Sacred Sites?
Updated: Mar 15
Why are so many people drawn to England's Stonehenge, which is known throughout the world? Why are the Pyramids the first port of call for international visitors to Egypt. What is going on?
In my experience as a guide to ancient sacred sites in Britain there are various reasons why people make these journeys. For some it is a quest, such as following the Arthurian legend in a personal search to find the meaning of the Holy Grail. For others the journey is really a modern pilgrimage, to walk the paths of our ancestors for spiritual purposes.
Others instinctively know that a healing awaits them at one of these places shrouded in mystery. Whatever prompts the decision to travel, journeys of this kind are almost always transformative.
Reading The Signs
Our ancestors knew the Earth intimately and understood her wisdom. They lived in much closer communion with the planet than we do today. Their sense of the natural forces of the Earth was a finely-tuned whole body awareness - not just a mental knowing.
Imagine yourself as a member of a neolithic society living five thousand years ago. You are walking along and suddenly you feel a tingling in your hands or feet or maybe a rush of energy throughout your body. You have just walked over an energy hot spot. This is where you would choose to build a structure in which you could work with the energies present for purposes of healing or spiritual insight.
Today this same sacred site might appear to be just a dead relic of a bygone age. However, myths passed down through the generations tell a different story. Invariably we find gems of truth in these stories if we interpret the symbolism. For example, it is said of several stone circles that the stones go down to the water to drink at midnight or on a full moon. This folktale speaks of the connection between the stone circle, Earth energies and water. In fact, dowsing shows that most sites are animated by the serpentine currents of energy which course through the ground following the subterranean streams of water and which vary according to the seasons, the phases of the moon and even day and night. All holy wells have stories of healings attached to them. When we realise that strong Earth energy currents have turned the waters into something akin to a homeopathic remedy, these tales make perfect sense.
Originally all energy spots were simply in nature - a hilltop, a wooded copse, a spring. The trees were the first to teach us the consequences of enclosing natural energy. The energy can be contained and built up to create a super-charged space. The Druids performed all their ceremonies in sacred groves for this reason. We can all feel these 'magic' places still, even if we don't feel energies; they create in us a sense of silence, of wonder, of gratitude. We are naturally brought into a place of mind, body and spirit balance within ourselves where we are ready and open to receive insight and healing. Morgan's Hill near Devizes and Knoll Down near Avebury are two little-known but wonderful examples in England. Often when I am guiding people to sacred sites I will include one of these natural places on our journey.
The stone circle builders developed this theme and utilised crystal-studded granite and sandstone (granular quartz) blocks in order to have greater control over the build-up of energies. We are all aware that our wrist watches and computers operate because of the energetic properties of quartz crystal; our ancestors were really using the same technology but for different purposes and on a different scale.
Medieval churches and cathedrals were often built on the sites of stone circles, ensuring that these energy hot spots would empower the Christian ceremonies and services which would take place there.
What makes the crucial difference between a tourist visit and a transformative experience is our intent. Intent activates the potential in each of us. When we focus our intent on a spiritual goal magic occurs. As W H Murray says in the book The Scottish Himalayan Expedition: "Once one commits (to a quest) all sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision - raising in one's favour all manner of unforseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way."
Combining this committed intent with the super-charged atmosphere of a sacred site on a spiritual journey opens the door for extraordinary things to happen.
On a tour of crop circles and sacred sites our group decided to invite the 'Circlemakers', whoever or whatever that might mean for the participants, to co-create a crop circle with us that would have something to teach us. There were nineteen people on the tour but for various reasons five of our group didn't take part in the meditation. The next morning in that very field there was an incomplete flower of life crop formation. A flower of life is normally made up of nineteen overlapping circles, this one had five missing.
On another occasion I visited Merlin's Mound which sits in the grounds of a private school in Marlborough. The Mound, once a revered sacred site, was neglected for many years. The Victorians had built a monstrous cast-iron water tower on the summit blocking out all the light. I had done some healing energy work there three months previously using the elements of air and fire to bring Light back to this abused site. On my return I needed to work with the elements of earth and water. I didn't know how I was going to gain access to the water. As I reached the top of the hill I was stunned to find the summit now flooded with light because the water tower had been demolished. Where the tower had been the water supply pipe, open and uncapped, was coming out of the earth. I later discovered that they erected a new but much smaller water tank two days after my visit.
On some level we still know what our ancestors knew - that the ancient sacred sites hold power and potential. Yet, our logical thinking often tells us this can't be true. If we are prepared to quiet the sceptical mind for a while and act as if magic is possible, then magic does indeed become possible. As Albert Einstein once remarked "He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed."
by Glenn Broughton