Sacred Sites: Places of Peace and Power

Non-corporeal Beings

The mysterious influences of spirits, devas and angelic beings associated with sacred sites

Sages and seers from antiquity have repeatedly remarked that the dimension we see with our physical eyes is not the only dimension of existence. Many other realms exist and within them a variety of beings, spirits, energies and entities. Traditional peoples the world over have spoken of the existence of these presences, calling them such names as elves, gnomes, leprechauns, devas, fairies, genies and ghosts. Since time immemorial humans have sought contact with these unseen forces. Shamanic practitioners communicate with the spirits of animals, ancestors and the plant world. Psychics, clairvoyants and mediums conduct séances to speak with entities from nonvisible realms. Religious mystics affirm the presence of angels, deities and other heavenly beings. Whatever we choose to call these entities, and however we attempt to explain them, it is certain that something mysterious is happening in dimensions other than those perceptible by our normal senses of sight, hearing, touch and smell.

These mysterious presences seem to be especially concentrated at the power places and sacred sites. In some holy places, particularly those of remote forest and desert tribes, these unseen presences are the sole focus of ritual activities. No Christian church or Buddhist temple will be found there, only a small shrine indicating the abode of some nature spirit. In the world's more celebrated pilgrimage shrines, these presences receive less acknowledgment than the primary religious deities. While the presence of the unseen forces usually long precedes the arrival of the historical religion that now maintains the pilgrimage shrine, those forces are frequently denied, dismissed, demonized or given only marginal importance. In the temples of Burma where we find great monuments to the Buddhist faith surrounded by small shrines dedicated to a host of pre-Buddhist spirits called Nats. In the Christian churches of Europe, Britain and Ireland flow springs long ago dedicated to pagan earth goddesses. And in the courtyards of enormous south Indian temples stand numerous small shrines housing various spirits called yakshas, nagas and asuras.

These unseen forces may affect pilgrims without their having any knowledge of the forces, or they may purposely be summoned to appear by the performance of ritual actions and invocations. Traditional rituals practiced at many shrines are potent, time-honored methods for invoking various spirit forces. Such methods are not the only way to summon the mysterious powers. Focused mental intention is an effective method of invocation, and prayer and meditation are the tools of spirit communication.

It is beneficial to first learn something about the nature or character of the spirit entities that inhabit a sacred site. Reading guidebooks concerning the mythology and archaeology of the site or questioning shrine administrators and priests are good approaches. The unseen forces will be described in terms such as spirits, devas or angels. These terms are simply metaphors for the actual character or personality of the forces. These terms also serve as metaphorical representations indicating how the forces will psychologically and physiologically affect human beings. Next, carefully consider the character of the unseen forces dwelling at a sacred site - this important point should not be lightly dismissed. Those forces may have either beneficial or disturbing effects on different people. Invocation of unseen forces at sacred sites is a powerful practice. It is important to exercise caution lest unwanted forces be admitted into an individual's personal energy field.

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