Sacred Sites: Places of Peace and Power

Accumulated Energy Over Time

The Presence of Accumulated Energy from Centuries of Ceremonial Activity at the Shrines

As the intention of its builders can charge a sacred structure with power, so also can the ongoing performance of ceremony at a shrine. Rituals and ceremonies are a way of gathering, concentrating and focusing the energy of spiritual intention. Consider the following description of ceremonies performed at Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock…

The ceremonials conceived by the Caliph matched the magnificence of the shrine: each day and night fifty-two attendants worked to produce the precious compound called khuluk, one of the essences that perfumed the Dome. They pounded and pulverized saffron and then leavened it with musk, ambergris, and attar of roses from the Persian town of Jur, whose blooms were highly valued for their scent....At dawn, attendants arrived to purify themselves in special baths. In the Dome of the Chain they changed into garments of rare cloth woven in distant Khurasan and Afghanistan, shawls from Yemen, and girdles of precious jewels. Bearing jars of the khuluk to the Kubbat as-Sakhra, they anointed the sacred rock with the aromatic mixture and lit censers of gold and silver that had been filled with richly scented aloes from Java, and incense compounded from musk and ambergris. Once the interior had been thoroughly bathed in fragrance, the attendants carried the smoking censers outside, where the wondrous odor of the incense could waft from the raised platform of the Haram to the bustling marketplace beyond. (23)

The longer that ceremonies have been conducted at a shrine, the greater will be the field of energy developed within and around the place. An ancient and continuing use of sacred places is particularly common in Asia. In many of the great pilgrimage temples of southern India, for example, elaborate ceremonies have been performed for a thousand years or more. Throughout the day and night, dozens of priests and thousands of pilgrims chant sacred songs while playing drums, flutes, gongs and other instruments. There is a presence of incredible excitement and positivity permeating these temples, by virtue of the millions of people who have participated in these ceremonies. Another remarkable example of the longevity of ceremonial activity may be found on the sacred mountain of Koya San in Japan. At the mausoleum temple of the sage Kobo Daishi, Buddhist priests have maintained an unbroken chant for twenty-four hours a day since the mid-ninth century.

Europe, too, has sacred sites where ceremonial activity has been performed for millennia.  Beginning with the megalithic people of late Neolithic times, and followed by Celtic, Roman and Christian cultures, the nature of ceremony has dramatically changed, yet the spiritual power deriving from those ceremonies has continued to accumulate at the sacred places. The spiritual power or force of intention is a universal human attribute. It may find its expression in various ways according to the religious traditions of different parts of the world, yet the power is preliminary to and unbounded by any religion. Religions are simply transient forms, while the spiritual power is the underlying essence that animates those forms. This spiritual power transcends space and time, ideology and philosophy, and in doing so is able to accumulate at sacred sites no matter if those sites come under the control of various different cultural groups.


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