Over the last five years or so, I have become more aware of sacred sites both locally and abroad. In an effort to understand my experiences at sacred sites, I have looked for information about the native cultures that lived at those sacred sites.
For example, when I went to Peru and visited Machu Picchu, I was enveloped in the most wonderful energy, but noticed that the energy improved as one climbed higher in altitude. However, even mountains as powerful as they are, have to be honored from the work of the shaman, and by giving offerings and performing ceremony, the mountain spirits, and their energy are transformed. “The wellbeing of huacas [quechua word for sacred] depends on the constant flow of offerings from the living to deceased ancestors, and the spiritual domain as a form of reciprocity.” (Staller, 2008, p.276)
Here in Florida, the mounds here as well as throughout the mound culture in the rest of the US, are places of great power and complex energy. The complexity is most likely a result of years of environmental degradation and disrespect for these special places. Because there is a highly elevated energy associated with power places or sacred sites, when the land they are on is disrespected or degraded, the energy becomes more turbulent and sometimes very unhappy. “Sacred sites are living places. They have their own feelings like humans. And just like humans, they can be happy or sad” (Sabella Kaguna, Custodian, Tharaka, Kenya)
Also in Florida, it is the Gulf of Mexico that is a very powerful nature force instead of mountains. It is the Gulf of Mexico, the palm trees, plants, minerals and animals among many other things to whom we can offer our thanks. In historical context, the Seminoles in Florida had core beliefs of giving thanks to the land and having a deep connection with the land as if it is one’s mother. “Traditional Seminoles consider their environment a sacred source of life, and they themselves believe they are its guardians.” (Caufield, Catherine, “Selling a Piece of Your Mother”, 1998)
As I continue to learn more about sacred sites, I hope to integrate the same beliefs of reciprocity to the land as the native cultures who lived here before us.